Now that the end of Jay Cutler’s season has been officially announced, all arrows appear to point at the Chicago Bears using their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on a future franchise quarterback. Entering Week 13 of the 2016 season, the Bears (2-9) are in position to get the fourth overall pick of next year’s draft, and seeing how they are playing, it doesn’t look like they will be drafting nowhere out of the top five.
Chicago has had a merry-go-round under center all season long. Matt Barkley is now the third QB to be named the Bears’ starter, while David Fales is waiting in the wings to potentially be the fourth. Cutler, who is slated to have shoulder surgery on Saturday, has been labeled as Chicago’s franchise quarterback since being acquired in a trade in 2009, but has not lived up to that billing whatsoever. Sure, the numerous offensive coordinators that Cutler has played under while in the Windy City might have played a great influence in his inability to live up to the hype. However, his leadership skills (or lack thereof) and recent rumors of him not getting respect in the locker room have been reasons why many think that the Cutler-era has come to an end.
Going into 2017, Cutler will no longer receive guaranteed money under his current contract with the Bears. What does that mean? Well, it means that if general manager Ryan Pace decides to trade or release Cutler, then Chicago will take a $2 million hit on their salary cap. However, it would add $13 million worth of cap space for 2017, something that can be used for a big-time free agent. With the good chance of Cutler no longer wearing the navy and orange, and having a really high draft pick in their possession, it makes perfect sense for the Bears to select a quarterback in April.
Who does Chicago have to select from? Well, it looks like they will have the chance at getting one of the top three quarterback prospects of 2017: Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubiski, and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. On most draft boards, all three quarterbacks are projected to go in the first round.
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Some mock drafts have the Bears selecting Trubiski, while others have them going after Kizer. There are even some that have Chicago going in another direction and drafting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Of course, it may be too soon to make such a prediction, but seeing that the Bears’ all-time leading passer may be headed for the door, and knowing that the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster will either be restricted or unrestricted free agents in 2017, all signs seem to clearly say that it’s time for the Bears to draft a quarterback.
Over the past two years, Chicago has opted not to select a QB in the draft, and therefore, has missed the opportunity to groom a franchise passer. Now, they are given their best chance to find that true winner that all Bears fans have been anxiously waiting for since Sid Luckman. If Pace and the Bears do decide to pick Kizer, Trubiski, or Watson, hopefully neither one will fall under the same category as Cade McNown or Rex Grossman. And with so much pressure to win right now, let’s pray that Pace will do everything possible to make it work for this potential future QB. Because if he doesn’t, the end for Pace could come sooner than later.