Mitchell Trubisky

Bears Expected To Add Trubisky Competition

The 2019 Titans advanced to the AFC championship game largely because of a quarterback addition they made in the offseason. The Bears appear to have a similar blueprint in mind.

After three seasons of uneven play from Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears are expected to bring in competition. This year’s Combine has produced a “strong sense” Chicago will add a veteran quarterback to push the former No. 2 overall pick, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Bears GM Ryan Pace has said Trubisky will be the starter entering this season, but like Marcus Mariota last year, he could face a veteran to keep the job. The Bears remain uncertain on Trubisky’s fifth-year option as well.

The team has been linked to Andy Dalton, who remains close to new Bears OC Bill Lazor. The latter was Dalton’s coordinator from 2017-18 and his position coach in 2016, and the longtime Cincinnati starter “loved” playing for him. Expected to draft Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall, the Bengals are willing to work with Dalton on a trade.

This year’s free agency class includes some of the biggest names to ever hit the open market. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are unattached. The Bears have not been connected to either, but Chicago has fielded one of the NFL’s better defenses for years now. That would appeal to a championship-seeking quarterback. Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston also are free agents-to-be, though they are franchise tag possibilities in Tennessee and Tampa.

Other potential UFA options include Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Although Matt Rhule said he wanted to retain Cam Newton, a new regime inheriting an injury-prone quarterback in a contract year points to the 2015 MVP being available for the right offer as well. The Bears’ lack of a first-round pick limits their trade options, with their second- and third-rounders then becoming more critical improvement avenues. However, with Khalil Mack set for his age-29 season and Akiem Hicks turning 31 in 2020, this Bears defensive nucleus is running short on time.

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Bears Still Mulling Mitchell Trubisky’s Option

The Bears have until May to decide on whether to trigger Mitchell Trubisky‘s option for the 2021 season. They’ll wait until then to make the call, according to GM Ryan Pace (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune).

The fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only. In 2019, it seemed like Trubisky was dealing with nothing but injuries. Throughout the year, he was plagued with hip, shoulder, and other trouble and he recently went under the knife to fix the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

The typical recovery time for the labrum surgery is around two months. Trubisky’s surgery took place sometime in January, so the Bears should have some read on his status before the fifth-year option date.

In 2018, Trubisky posted a 95.4 quarterback rating and threw for 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions en route to a Pro Bowl nod. Last year, however, was a pretty big step back – he had just 17 TDs against ten INTs and the Bears’ talented D couldn’t make up for the offense’s shortcomings. The Bears went 8-7 in Trubisky’s 15 starts and finished .500 on the season, leaving them short of the postseason.

Trubisky has shown promise since being selected No. 2 overall in 2017 and good quarterbacks are hard to find; the expectation remains that they’ll pick up his option. Still, it’s not a sure thing. In the past, the Bears have made these fifth-year option calls well in advance of the deadline, so their delay is telling. The Bears, at minimum, will explore their options during the early stages of free agency and possibly dig into some of this year’s top passers in the April draft.

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Surgery For Bears’ Mitch Trubisky

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky underwent surgery to repair the partially torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder shortly after the end of the season, ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson tweets. The typical recovery time for the procedure is around two months, which means that Trubisky should be ready to go well before training camp gets underway. 

[RELATED: Bears To Sign CFL CB Tre Roberson]

Although it’s not as serious as, say, surgery for his right shoulder, it’s a situation worth monitoring. Trubisky is coming off of a rocky year and even though the Bears intend on moving forward with him as their top QB, the issue could prompt the Bears to spend on a veteran backup.

There’s also the matter of Trubisky’s fifth-year option. The 2017 first-round pick can be cuffed through the 2021 season at a rate of $25MM, guaranteed for injury only. The Bears, at this point, are expected to trigger that option by the May 5th deadline, but a hitch in Trubisky’s recovery could give them pause.

The shoulder wasn’t Trubisky’s only injury in 2019, there was also a hip injury and other maladies along the way. All in all, Trubisky threw for 3,138 yards with 17 touchdowns against ten interceptions – a pretty big step back from his strong 2018 Pro Bowl showing. The Bears went 8-7 in Trubisky’s 15 starts and went 8-8 on the year, falling short of the playoffs.

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Extra Points: Okung, Trubisky, Bucs

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung intends to run for NFLPA president, sources tell Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. This development is notable because, while CBA negotiations between the owners and the union have been progressing smoothly thus far, Okung is said to be vehemently opposed to a 17-game schedule and is open to a work stoppage in order to get the best possible deal for the league’s players.

The 17-game schedule may be the last major sticking point holding up a new CBA, but if a new agreement is not in place by the time current union president Eric Winston’s term expires in March, and if Okung were to be elected, negotiations could stall. Winston cannot be re-elected because he hasn’t played for the past two seasons.

A recent NFLPA investigation revealed that Okung gathered and disseminated confidential information in violation of the union’s constitutions and by-laws, but Okung denies those allegations.

Now for more news and notes from around the league:

  • On Monday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance issued what Florio calls the strongest statement it has made since the Rooney Rule was promulgated. The statement reads in part, “[w]e were painfully reminded through this past hiring cycle that attaining diverse leadership in the NFL can only happen through the willful actions of the team owners and decision makers. The abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking levels of NFL management is a reminder of the dark periods of civil rights history. The League has only one African-American General Manager. There are no African-American club presidents.” The Redskins hired a minority when they tabbed Ron Rivera as their new head coach, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance believes worthy minority candidates like Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy continue to get overlooked.
  • Mike Sando of The Athletic takes a look into the upcoming fifth-year option decisions that teams will have to make on their 2017 first-rounders. The entire piece is worth a read, and it’s notable that most of Sando’s sources believe the Bears will exercise the $25MM option on QB Mitchell Trubisky.
  • The Buccaneers worked out cornerback Tre Roberson, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Roberson, who played quarterback in college and who was last with an NFL team in September 2017, recorded seven interceptions for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders this year. Recent reports suggested that Roberson would be back in the NFL in 2020 and that over 10 teams were interested in the converted signal-caller.

Extra Points: Sanu, Brown, Bears, Lock

The Patriots‘ revolving receiver cast may be set for more adjustments. Mohamed Sanu may well be battling a high ankle sprain, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. While that is not confirmed, the recent trade acquisition did not practice Wednesday and is listed on New England’s injury report. A high ankle sprain would stand to sideline Sanu for multiple games. The Pats have cycled through numerous receiver combinations this season, with Julian Edelman being the only constant. Phillip Dorsett is in the Pats’ concussion protocol, meaning Edelman’s supporting cast against the Cowboys may be fronted by rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.

Here is the latest from around the NFL, moving first to a player not currently in the league.

  • Antonio Brown launched a countersuit against Britney Taylor, the first of two women to make sexual misconduct claims against the free agent wide receiver. Taylor filed a civil suit against Brown earlier this year, alleging sexual assault, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports Brown’s case will center around defamation and interference with NFL contract and endorsement opportunities. Brown remains hopeful the NFL will clear him soon; he met with the league last week. But a recent report gave Brown a long-odds chance of playing again this season.
  • Mitchell Trubisky was a full participant at Bears practice Wednesday, despite being removed from Sunday night’s game with a hip injury. Matt Nagy said he does not intend to bench his starter and plans to play him this week against the Giants. “We want him to be out there this week as the starter,” Nagy said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m hoping that’s the case. … These types of injuries, you get to a point where they are literally day to day and it becomes about where you’re at with the pain and how we manage that.”
  • Brandon Allen has helped spark the Broncos‘ offense, but the team would stand to benefit from Drew Lock debuting soon. Vic Fangio added an interesting stance Wednesday, indicating he does not think it’s “vitally important” the rookie passer plays this season, via Mike Klis of 9News. However, the Broncos do plan to activate Lock from IR either next week or in Week 14, per Klis. Denver selected Lock in Round 2 but saw its Joe Flacco investment fail, leading to more uncertainty at a long-troublesome position for the franchise. The Broncos could again be linked to top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, just as they were in 2018 and ’19.
  • One of the Falcons‘ IR-return slots will go toward a punter. Longtime punter Matt Bosher returned to practice, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Atlanta’s ninth-year punter cannot return to action until Week 13.
  • After placing fullback Nick Bawden on IR, the Lions worked out several fullbacks. Tommy Bohanon, Derrick Coleman, Tre Madden, Aaron Ripkowski auditioned for the Lions, per Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter).

Latest On Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky

The Bears announced that starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky left Sunday night’s loss to the Rams due to a right hip injury. While Trubisky was not pulled until there was 3:24 remaining in the game, the team said the third-year signal-caller actually sustained the injury late in the second quarter.

However, there is plenty of skepticism as to whether an injury really led to Trubisky’s removal. He was in the midst of another disappointing performance in a year full of them, and it could be that head coach Matt Nagy wanted to bench him but did not want to embarrass him, so he either invented or exaggerated the severity of the injury. As Adam Jahns of The Athletic writes, Trubisky spoke after the game like a quarterback who was benched, not hurt. Although Jahns believes the injury was legitimate — Trubisky was walking with a noticeable limp — it also sounds as though it was something he could have played through if he was playing better.

But it’s not as if the Bears have a better option. Trubisky’s backup, Chase Daniel, is a 33-year-old journeyman who has started all of five games in his career. Plus, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune opines, Chicago needs to see what it has in Trubisky throughout the remainder of the year so that it can fully evaluate its quarterback situation moving forward. As we discussed last week, the 2020 QB market could be more robust than usual should the Bears decide to go shopping, so before they move on from the 2017 No. 2 overall pick, they should make sure he is not the long-term answer.

After all, Trubisky played fairly well in 2018, posting 24 TDs against 12 interceptions to go along with a 95.4 quarterback rating. 2019 has been a disaster, as the offense has frequently stagnated under his watch, but it’s not unreasonable to think he can turn it around if Nagy gives him the opportunity to do so. It seems much will depend on Trubisky’s right hip and Nagy’s faith in Daniel.

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North Notes: Joseph, Callaway, Dozier, Bears QB

The Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph underwent surgery on his meniscus, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Joseph, who did not play in Minnesota’s 28-24 victory against the Cowboys, has been on the team’s injury report since Week 7 with a knee injury, but had yet to miss any practice until last Thursday.

On a positive note, Joseph has not been placed on injured reserve and Goessling and Krammer cite sources within the organization that are optimistic he will return soon. With their bye coming in Week 12, Goessling and Krammer note the Vikings Week 13 matchup with the Broncos as a possible target date for Joseph’s return.

Here’s more updates from the teams in the AFC and NFC North:

  • Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was benched shortly before the team’s game against the Bills for tardiness on Sunday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cleveland still managed to pull out the 19-16 victory without Callaway, but the offense surely could have benefited from another dynamic receiver on the field. In Cabot’s report, a source told her that Callaway parked in a different lot than usual and arrived a few minutes late.
  • The Vikings plan to move forward with Dakota Dozier at right guard if starter Josh Kline has to miss more games with a concussion, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Dozier replaced Kline after he left Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys with concussion like symptoms. Kline was diagnosed with a concussion and is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Dozier has already started three games this season along Minnesota’s offensive front.
  • If the Bears decide to move on from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this offseason there will be a plethora of strong veteran options, according to Dan Pompei of The Athletic. Pompei details ten signalcallers with varying degrees of past success. While free-agency seems poised to offer more viable options than usual, the play of young quarterbacks around the league has potentially pushed some other established veterans onto the trade market as well. Sitting at 4-5 and in third place in the NFC North, Chicago’s playoff hopes are dwindling by the week. Trubisky, in his third NFL season, has garnered the brunt of the criticism for the team’s underwhelming performance.

North Notes: Ravens, Elliott, Bears

The Ravens lost another safety Sunday, with DeShon Elliott going down in the team’s win over the Bengals. Like Tony Jefferson last week, Elliott looks to be facing a season-ending malady – head coach John Harbaugh expects the second-year defender to miss the rest of the season.

With Baltimore down to third-year player Chuck Clark and veteran backup Anthony Levine, Harbaugh said the Ravens looking for outside help at safety is now “very possible,” per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter). A 2018 sixth-round pick, Elliott missed all of his rookie season due to injury as well.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Good news for the Bears: quarterback Mitch Trubisky was back throwing in practice on Monday for the first time since dislocating his shoulder. Trubisky went down hard on his left shoulder in Week 4, leaving Chase Daniel as the team’s starter for the time being. Daniel and the Bears fell to the Raiders last time out, leaving them 3-2 on the year. Off of their bye, they’ll face the Saints on Oct. 20.
  • Bad news for the Bears: Head coach Matt Nagy says Kyle Long will not return this season. This was the expected news after the right guard landed on IR for the fourth straight season.
  • The Vikings want to bring back wide receiver Davion Davis, either on the active roster or the practice squad, if he clears waivers on Monday, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Davis was cut this week to make room for the promotion of linebacker Cameron Smith, who was chosen in the fifth round of this year’s draft.

Injury Updates: Trubisky, Smith, Hockenson, Allen, Ingram, Mack, Stills

Perhaps the most significant injury of Week 4 afternoon games was Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky going down. Trubisky went down hard on his left shoulder, and was quickly ruled out before returning to the sideline with his arm in a sling. Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t offer many details after the game, but he said he didn’t expect the injury to be season-ending, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). While it certainly could be worse, that does seem to suggest that the Bears expect Trubisky to miss at least a little time. Chase Daniel will fill in under center.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was surprisingly inactive for the team’s win over the Vikings, and Nagy said after the game Smith’s absence was for personal reasons, Pelissero tweets. Nagy wouldn’t elaborate and wouldn’t say whether Smith’s personal issue would extend beyond this week. This will be something to monitor, as Smith is a key part of Chicago’s defense.
  • Lions rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson took a hard hit in Detroit’s loss to the Chiefs, and was ruled out with a concussion. The Lions drafted Hockenson eighth overall back in April, and he’s shown a lot of promise in the first few games. He had three catches and a touchdown before going down against Kansas City, and is a big part of Detroit’s passing game. Hopefully he’ll be able to get cleared in time for Week 5.
  • Speaking of concussions, Bills quarterback Josh Allen suffered one on a brutal hit in Buffalo’s loss to the Patriots. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game and if he can’t get cleared by next week, Matt Barkley will be under center. Allen was struggling before getting hurt and had thrown three interceptions, but Barkley wasn’t much better in relief.
  • The Chargers’ injuries continued to pile up, as star pass-rusher Melvin Ingram left their game against the Dolphins and was quickly ruled out with a hamstring injury. Los Angeles was already one of the most banged up teams in the league, so this was the last thing they needed. Head coach Anthony Lynn said after the game that Ingram pulled a hamstring and they didn’t know how long he’d be out, according to a tweet from Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.
  • Colts running back Marlon Mack tweaked his ankle, but it doesn’t seem serious. Mack only had two carries in the second half, but he said after the game it was just “coach’s decision” to hold him out and that he expects to be fine for Indy’s Week 5 game against the Chiefs, according to Charlie Clifford of WISH 8 (Twitter link).
  • Texans receiver Kenny Stills left his team’s loss to the Panthers with a hamstring injury, but it’s unclear how severe it is. After the game, head coach Bill O’Brien said the team would have to wait until Monday to determine the severity, per a tweet from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Stills would be a big loss, but Houston would still have a very solid receiving corp in Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keke Coutee without him.

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky To Start Vs. Rams

The Bears expect to have quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center when they face the Rams on Sunday, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Chicago has struggled with Chase Daniel at QB for the last two games and Trubisky’s return is expected to give them a boost. 

Daniel was sharp in a Thanksgiving win over the Lions, but the Bears were upset by the Giants last weekend in a close contest. Daniel is regarded as one of the better backup QBs in the NFL – despite his lack of actual playing time in recent years – but things just didn’t click for Chicago with Daniel at the helm.

I think it’s a transition for our own players on offense,” head coach Matt Nagy said on Thursday. “All of a sudden you have a new teacher, right? A substitute teacher comes in, and it’s a different voice and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Do I like this teacher or not?’ ”

Trubisky, 24, threw for 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions before a shoulder injury took him out of action. Of course, his six TD/zero INT performance against the Bucs boosted that ratio, but he’s been playing solid football on the whole this year.

The Bears already have a 94% likelihood of making the playoffs, according to Five Thirty Eight, but a win against the star-studded Rams would clinch a postseason berth and move them even closer to the divisional crown. A combination of a Bears win and a Vikings loss would pretty much seal up the NFC North for Chicago, allowing them to rest key players down the stretch.

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