Bears give Trubisky competition after disappointing season
It’s been a busy few days for a team looking to bounce back from a disappointing season that began with Super Bowl hopes. And while the NFL’s new year kicked off Wednesday without the usual parade of official announcements because of concerns about the new coronavirus, the Bears all but confirmed the stories that leaked out.
They sent out three tweets citing NFL Network reports of the trade with Jacksonville for Foles and agreements with Quinn and Graham. In each one, the Bears added: “NFL policy currently prohibits teams from making any official announcements.”
It was an unusual move. But these are hardly normal times.
The league has barred free agents from traveling to team facilities as well as travel by team personnel to meet them. Contracts can be sent digitally, signed by players, returned to teams and then submitted to the league to make them official. But the players also need physicals. They could get them locally, but few teams would be comfortable with that arrangement.
As for what the moves mean for the Bears, well, changes were expected. After all, they went from winning the NFC North at 12-4 in 2018 to finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.
Trubisky, for one, might be a little less comfortable.
Though general manager Ryan Pace had said he remained committed to the former No. 2 overall draft pick as the starter, he also left the door open to bringing in a veteran to push him. The Bears agreed Wednesday to a send a compensatory fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for Foles, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Now, Trubisky has competition. That’s hardly a surprise, after his production dropped in his third season.
Trubisky’s yards (3,138), completion rate (63.2%), touchdowns (17) and rating (83) were all down from the previous year. And the Bears’ offense ranked among the worst in the NFL.
The Jaguars are parting with the 31-year-old Foles just over a year after signing him to a four-year, $88 million contract that included $50.125 million guaranteed. He broke his left collarbone early in the season opener, missed the next eight games and got benched in his third game back.
Rookie Gardner Minshew played well enough in his absence to make Foles expendable.
The Bears’ problems on offense didn’t end with Trubisky. They lacked playmakers other than receiver Allen Robinson. Their line took a beating. Their run game got ignored at times. And their tight ends were nonfactors.
That’s where Graham could provide a boost.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, he has 7,883 yards receiving and 74 touchdown catches in 10 seasons with New Orleans, Seattle and Green Bay. He spent his first five years with the Saints, when Pace worked in their front office.
Graham was an All-Pro for New Orleans in 2013 when he had 1,215 yards and led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions. He had 447 yards and three touchdowns for Green Bay last season and was released last week by the Packers after two years.
The Bears are banking on Quinn to give them another havoc-wreaking pass rusher opposite Khalil Mack and take some of the pressure off their star outside linebacker.
Quinn bounced back with 11 1/2 sacks last year following a trade to Dallas from Miami despite a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He finished with single-digit sacks the previous four seasons for the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams, and the Dolphins. Quinn, who turns 30 in May, had 19 sacks for St. Louis in an All-Pro season in 2013 and had 10 1/2 the following year on the way to his second straight Pro Bowl selection. He has 80 1/2 in nine seasons.
The agreement with Quinn signaled the end for 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd in Chicago. A person familiar with the situation confirmed he agreed Wednesday to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams after being released on Tuesday.
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