The Chicago Bears need to acquire any of these three backup quarterbacks in case the Andy Dalton experiment fails.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy have been given one more chance to turn things around. This past season, the Bears defense was stout while the offense was stagnant and anemic. That is mostly due to the quarterback position.
Bears fans were excited to see how the team would address the position and improve it once and for all. The Bears responded by signing former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year, $10 million contract. While Dalton has shown to be a good signal caller, what are the Bears to do if things go sour?
Here are three backup quarterbacks not named Nick Foles who can step up for the Bears in case Dalton fails.
Perhaps the best choice available in free agency is Alex Smith. The former 2005 first overall pick made his return to the Washington Football Team this past year after suffering a devastating right leg injury in the 2018 season. Much like the Bears, the Washington Football Team had a tremendous defense with a lackluster offense. All Smith had to do was play good enough for the team to win games, and they did just that by clinching the NFC East title.
In eight games this past season, Smith threw for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions. While those statistics were far from great, he did lead Washington to a 5-1 record when starting.
Smith would obviously like to start in the NFL, but he is going to be viewed as a backup by teams. But if he wants the best chance to start, that would be with the Bears.
If the Bears want to look for an under-the-radar quarterback move, look no further than Nick Mullens.
The San Francisco 49ers signed Mullens as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi in 2017, and he received plenty of starting opportunities in his four years in the Bay Area. That is because starter Jimmy Garoppolo dealt with a torn ACL and a high ankle sprain in the 2018 and 2020 seasons, respectively. Mullens has 16 starts to his credit, five of which were wins. In fact, his latest victory came in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams (23-20).
Through his young career, Mullens has completed 64.5-percent of his passes for 2,437 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Mullens would be a great signing for the Bears. He has starting experience and won’t command a huge contract. Pace and Nagy should be offering him a deal right now.
Besides Smith and Mullens, there are not great options on the open market. Names like Matt Barkley and Blake Bortles are not quarterbacks that teams should be signing with the expectation of them pulling out wins in starts. The Bears could perhaps get their best backup option on the trading block, and that option is Gardner Minshew.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Minshew in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft and brought excitement to the lowly team. Things would fall apart this past season, as the Jaguars finished with a bad enough record to clinch the first-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That meant they were in position to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. With Lawrence universally expected to be drafted by the Jaguars, that pushes Minshew out the door in Jacksonville. That could open things up for the Bears to potentially acquire the third-year quarterback.
Through two seasons, Minshew threw 5,530 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on a 62.9 completion percentage.
With new Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer saying last month that he is not fielding trade calls on Minshew, things can change once the NFL Draft arrives. If the asking price is cheap in terms of draft capital, the Bears should make a call and strike a deal.