Nick Foles

Nagy: Andy Dalton Is Starter When Healthy

Andy Dalton returned to practice Wednesday, going through the Bears’ workout in a limited capacity. And Matt Nagy has not changed his depth chart at quarterback.

The player the Bears promised would begin the season as their starter will remain so going forward, once he returns to full strength. Dalton suffered a knee contusion in Chicago’s Week 2 win over Cincinnati.

In regards to the depth chart with them, Andy is the 1, Justin’s the 2, Nick is the 3,” Nagy said of his Dalton-Justin FieldsNick Foles depth chart (via ESPN.com’s Field Yates, on Twitter).

Although Dalton’s injury moved Fields into the lineup, he trudged through an abysmal day in Cleveland. The No. 11 overall pick took nine sacks and completed 6 of 20 passes. First-round rookies rarely give jobs back after ascending to staring roles; Mitchell Trubisky moved into Chicago’s starting lineup in Week 5 of his rookie year and made every subsequent start in 2017. Fields’ performance may have opened the door for Dalton to stay in the picture. Fields was also uneven in his debut against the Bengals, following Dalton’s injury.

After suffering a right thumb injury, Fields practiced fully Wednesday. Foles is not on Chicago’s injury report but does not appear to have re-entered the equation for a possible starting role. The trade candidate remains in a third-string position to begin his age-32 season.

Nagy also indicated the Bears have had conversations about their play-calling role, though no decision has been made. Chicago ranks last in total yards and 31st in points through three games. Nagy gave OC Bill Lazor play-calling responsibilities amid a swoon last season, and the Bears — albeit against favorable opposition — made a late-season run to reach the playoffs. Nagy took back the play-calling reins this offseason. Lazor was Dalton’s OC in Cincinnati from 2017-18 and his position coach in 2016.

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Bears To Start Justin Fields

The Bears will start Justin Fields on Sunday, head coach Matt Nagy announced (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The rookie will start in place of the injured Andy Dalton with Nick Foles serving as the No. 2 quarterback. 

This will be a temporary arrangement, according to Nagy. “When Andy is healthy,” the head coach said. “He’s our starter.”

Dalton was knocked out of Sunday’s win over the Bengals and an MRI confirmed a bone bruise in his knee. That shouldn’t shelve the veteran for too long, though he hasn’t been stellar so far this year. His performance in the Week 1 loss to the Rams was rough and, even though he looked a bit better on Sunday, Fields’ upside cannot be ignored.

Before exiting, Dalton completed nine of his 11 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Fields completed both of his pass attempts and rushed for a touchdown in Week 1. In fairness, the first-round pick wasn’t as strong this past weekend — he completed only six of his 13 pass attempts for 60 yards with one TD and one fumble.

Despite Nagy’s assertion, a strong showing from Fields could change quickly. If he takes the helm, he’ll be just the fifth Round 1 QB to be the primary starter of his club since 2011, following Patrick Mahomes, Jake Locker, Johnny Manziel, and Paxton Lynch.

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Colts Won’t Pursue QB Trade

The Colts may be without Carson Wentz for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean the team will pursue a trade. Chris Mortensen reports (via Twitter) that Indy won’t be making a trade for the likes of Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, or Marcus Mariota.

[RELATED: Carson Wentz To Have Surgery, Out 5-12 Weeks]

The reporter notes that Wentz could begin rehabbing his foot after two weeks and “hasn’t been ruled out” for Week 1 (although he admits this is an optimistic timeline). Mortensen opines that if the “relatively safe surgery and rehab” happens to go awry, then the team could reconsider a trade for a quarterback. The organization did provide a rather wide timeline for Wentz’s return, with head coach Frank Reich suggesting that the recent acquisition could be back within five to 12 weeks. The early side of that timeline could see Wentz on the field against the Seahawks to begin the year.

Following news of Wentz’s impending foot surgery, we learned that the Colts wouldn’t be pursuing a trade for Foles, who’s currently buried on the Bears depth chart. It makes sense that the sentiment would apply to other signal callers; Minshew and Mariota wouldn’t be available for cheap, and the Colts front office probably isn’t willing to give up assets for what could end up being a backup.

With Wentz temporarily sidelined, the Colts will instead move ahead with their collection of backups. 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason should see a larger role, although it’s worth noting that the quarterback has barely seen the field in three of the past four years (including his time in college). The Colts also recently added Brett Hundley, but the veteran hasn’t started a game since he went 3-6 in nine games with the Packers in 2017.

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Nick Foles On Potential Trade

The Bears brought in both Andy Dalton and Justin Fields this offseason, leaving Nick Foles in an awkward spot. He’s currently getting paid a lot of money for a third-string quarterback, so it’s been thought all offseason that a trade could be logical if the right situation arose.

That may have just happened with the Carson Wentz foot injury in Indianapolis. It’s looking like Wentz may miss a significant chunk of regular season time, and Indy doesn’t have any great options to fill-in right now. Foles happened to speak to the media Monday, and appeared to be angling for a trade to the Colts without outright saying it.

Foles raved about Colts head coach Frank Reich, saying “listen, Frank Reich is one of my favorite, if not favorite, coaches of all time,” (Twitter link via Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network). He revealed that there were already a couple of trade opportunities that came the Bears’ way but said “I don’t want to go to someone I don’t know,” (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune).

For what it’s worth, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson was told the Colts have had no “substantive ‘pt-to-pt’ talks” with the Bears about trading for Foles yet (Twitter link). It seems to be a real possibility and Indy could make it happen but “everybody, including Carson Wentz, would have to be onboard,” Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says (Twitter video link).

Of course, Foles filled in for an injured Wentz during the Eagles’ legendary Super Bowl run while Reich was Philly’s OC, so there’s a lot of history here that could complicate things.

Meanwhile, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets the financial breakdown of what Foles would be owed if acquired in a trade. He’s got a $4MM guaranteed salary for 2021. In 2022 he’s got a guaranteed $4MM roster bonus with a $4MM base salary ($1MM of which is guaranteed). Essentially the Colts would have to pay him $4MM this year and at least $5MM next year if they traded for him. Nothing seems imminent, but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear more.

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Trade Candidate: Bears QB Nick Foles

A year ago, there was hope that Nick Foles could guide the Bears to the postseason. Now, the veteran quarterback finds himself on the outside looking in with the franchise.

Chicago has completely revamped their quarterbacks room this offseason. The team first signed veteran Andy Dalton to take over the starting gig, and they surprised many pundits when they traded up to select Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick in this year’s draft. As a result of the quarterback refresh, Foles will find himself as the third quarterback heading into 2021. Matt Nagy indicated as much the other day, referring to Fields as “the guy” if Dalton ends up getting sidelined with an injury, and the coach seemed pretty steadfast on the team’s current pecking order.

“There will be a process and a plan,” Nagy said (via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Tribune). “We will stick to that. That plan is not going to change tomorrow. The plan is not going to change in training camp. The plan is a plan — and it’s been thought out.

“All three of those guys know that you need to produce, you need to play well, you need to compete, you need to be the best quarterback you can be. And then it’s going to be really pretty easy for us to see who that is and how that goes.”

Normally, a team would probably let the veteran third-stringer go so he could find his next gig before training camp. However, it’d end up costing the Bears more to cut Foles than keep him. The 32-year-old is still owed $4MM in guaranteed money, and they’d be left with a hefty $6.6MM dead cap charge if they release him. In other words, cutting Foles would just exasperate the Bears salary cup crunch, meaning the only way Foles isn’t on the roster to start 2021 is if he’s traded.

Of course, it takes two to tango, and the Bears front office would need to find a taker for Foles. The former Super Bowl MVP didn’t impress during his first season in Chicago; he guided the Bears to a 2-5 record in his seven starts, completing 64.7-percent of his passes for 1,852 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Teams probably aren’t lining up for Foles services at the moment, but that could easily change. QBs will surely suffer injuries during training camp and the preseason, and those teams could easily turn to the Bears if they need an experienced arm.

Further, teams will also get clarity on their quarterback depth throughout August. For instance, several pundits have recently suggested that the Jets would be a logical suitor for Foles as a backup to Zach Wilson. The team will surely want to get a thorough look at their current backup options (including 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan and former UDFA Mike White) before they start exploring the trade market, but they could be at least one suitor who’s uninspired by their current choices.

While Foles disappointed in 2020, he’s not far removed from that iconic 2017 (and, to a lesser extent, 2018) run, and teams would surely take him on as their number-two QB. However, if one of these teams does want to acquire the veteran, they’ll likely have to do so via trade.

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AFC East Notes: Jets, Newton, Bills

Although several veterans made a point to skip OTAs this year, Jamison Crowder is away from his team because of a contract issue. The Jets want their leading receiver of the past two seasons to accept a pay cut. Robert Saleh said the veteran slot receiver “definitely” has a role on the 2021 Jets, but SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes the pay reduction the Jets have in mind is “significant.” It would be interesting to see what the Jets do if Crowder balks, given their salary cap space (third-most in the NFL) and his potential value in helping Zach Wilson as a rookie. The 27-year-old wideout is due a $10MM base salary this season, which is the final year of his contract. GM Joe Douglas was not around when Crowder signed with the Jets, and the team used a second-round pick on presumptive Crowder slot successor Elijah Moore. The Ole Miss product stands to cut into Crowder’s workload this season, Vacchiano adds, so the Jets would appear to be comfortable moving on.

Crowder may end up hitting free agency at an inopportune time, should he not approve the team’s pay-cut request. If the Jets release Crowder, they would not incur any dead money. Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The hand injury Cam Newton suffered will end up impacting his offseason status. The Patriots quarterback is expected to miss time, Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. Given Newton’s extensive injury history, this would be notable even without Mac Jones‘ presence. But the prospect of Jones going through the rest of OTAs and minicamp with Newton sidelined figures to impact the Pats’ quarterback competition. New England’s minicamp is scheduled to run from June 14-16.
  • Staying on the quarterback subject, the Jets may need to consider an addition. Wilson’s two backups — 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan and former UDFA Mike White — are not ready for a QB2 role, Connor Hughes of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Jets, in Hughes’ view, need to acquire Nick Foles from the Bears. Douglas was with the Eagles during Foles’ memorable second Philadelphia stint, and Foles has become a nonfactor in Chicago. The Jets, however, are not planning any additional costly moves this year; Foles comes with an $8MM price tag. Foles-Jets buzz began brewing shortly after the Bears’ Justin Fields pick, however, and may continue if Morgan and White prove unqualified at Gang Green’s minicamp.
  • The Bills will rely on a group effort to replace Dan Morgan, who left his VP of player personnel gig in Buffalo to become Carolina’s assistant GM. Terrance Gray, Malik Boyd and ex-Texans GM Brian Gaine will split Morgan’s duties, according to Brandon Beane (via Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com). The Bills interviewed both Gray and Boyd and promoted each. Gray will rise from college scouting director to assistant director of player personnel; Boyd will shift from pro personnel director to senior director of pro scouting. Gaine remains in his senior personnel advisor role. Boyd interviewed for the Texans’ GM job earlier this year.
  • Buffalo also hired Princeton quality control coach Sophia Lewin as an offensive assistant, according to NFL senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion Sam Rapoport (Twitter link). Lewin and Andrea Gosper, who will rise from Bills scouting intern to player personnel coordinator for the team, caught on with the Bills through the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum.

Latest On Bears QB Nick Foles

Nick Foles has become an afterthought in Chicago. This offseason, the Bears signed veteran QB Andy Dalton and promptly anointed him as the starter. Then, they made a bold move up the draft board last night to select Ohio State signal-caller Justin Fields, who will be groomed to be the long-term solution under center the team has been seeking for decades.

That leaves Foles on the outside looking in, unless for some reason the Bears think Fields might not be ready to be Dalton’s backup. However, moving on from Foles could be easier said than done.

As Darryl Slater of NJ.com observes (via Twitter), Foles still has prorated signing bonus charges totaling $5.3MM over the next two seasons, to go along with $5MM in guaranteed salary. Cutting him, at least prior to June 1, would result in a greater dead cap charge than the $6.66MM hit that he is scheduled to carry in 2021. So a trade makes more sense, since the acquiring team would have to take on the salary obligations.

Both Brian Costello of the New York Post and Connor Hughes of The Athletic (Twitter link) believe Foles would be a great fit for the Jets. New York, of course, drafted BYU passer Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and while the club obviously has high hopes for him, there is presently no QB on the roster that has thrown a pass in a regular season game. The team has looked into signing Brian Hoyer, but if the price is right, GM Joe Douglas — who is familiar with Foles from his days in Philadelphia — might prefer to add the former Super Bowl MVP.

In related news, the Bears did speak with the Panthers about moving up to Carolina’s No. 8 overall pick to grab Fields, according to Joe Person of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Panthers stayed put and selected Jaycee Horn, but Chicago got its guy three picks later by acquiring the Giants’ No. 11 overall selection.

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Nick Foles Back At Practice; Mitchell Trubisky Remains Bears’ Starter

Mitchell Trubisky appears to officially have regained his job, for now. Nick Foles returned to Bears practice Wednesday, but Matt Nagy said Trubisky will start Sunday against the Lions.

The Bears started Trubisky in Week 12, but Foles was inactive due to the hip injury that knocked him out of Chicago’s previous game. Foles practicing but being set to play behind Trubisky is a course change for the Bears, who have seen their season take a wrong turn.

Nagy yanked Trubisky in Week 3, and Foles provided a spark in a comeback win in Atlanta. Chicago then improved to 5-1 after two more Foles-directed victories. But the Bears have since become the first post-merger team to follow a 5-1 start with five straight losses. While the 5-6 team remains in the playoff race, it enters Week 13 ranked 31st in total offense. Foles is 29th in QBR.

Trubisky did not play well against the Packers but did guide a comeback win over the Lions in Week 1. Against Detroit in his career, Trubisky has a 14-4 TD-INT ratio. He has not lost to the Lions since 2017. This certainly might not be the final quarterback change of Chicago’s season, but for now, the Bears are giving the former No. 2 overall pick and 2021 free agent-to-be another shot.

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Injury Notes: Stafford, Bridgewater, Bears

Matthew Stafford is dealing with a hand injury, but there’s hope the ailment won’t sideline the veteran. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the Lions quarterback suffered a “partial tear in a ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand.”

The team will evaluate Stafford’s ability to throw the ball throughout the week, but it’s expected that Stafford will ultimately be in uniform on Sunday against the Panthers.

2019 aside, Stafford has been remarkably durable throughout his NFL career. Prior to his season-ending injury last season, Stafford had appeared in 136 consecutive regular season contests, the sixth-longest mark in NFL history. The 32-year-old has had a solid comeback season for the 4-5-0 Lions, completing 63.7-percent of his passes for 2,403 yards, 17 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

If Stafford were to miss any time, the Lions would likely turn to backups Chase Daniel or David Blough.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the league…

  • Speaking of Lions/Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater‘s MCL sprain “is consider minor,” according to Pelissero (via Twitter). The Panthers quarterback is expected to practice on a limited basis at tomorrow’s practice, and as the reporter notes, head coach Matt Rhule had previously expressed optimism that Bridgewater will play against the Lions. Bridgewater suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of his team’s loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday.
  • Despite being carted off the field yesterday, Bears quarterback Nick Foles could be available following his team’s bye. While the veteran is dealing with both hip and glute injuries, coach Matt Nagy said Foles should be alright. “It wasn’t as bad as we once thought,” Nagy said (via Gene Chamberlain of the Associated Press). “He’ll be working through that here as we go, keeping an eye on that, kind of day to day.”
  • While Foles could play against the Packers in two weeks, Nagy wasn’t so confident that backup Mitch Trubisky will be in uniform. “I think there’s a possibility, but I don’t know that for sure,” Nagy said. “I think it’s going to be day by day. I don’t know if he knows that. So we’ll just keep an eye on that.” The former second-overall pick has seen only one snap since Week 3.

Nick Foles Named Bears Starter

Not that it’s too surprising, but now it’s official. Nick Foles will be the Bears’ starting quarterback for their Week 4 matchup with the Colts, head coach Matt Nagy announced Monday. Nagy went on to say this wasn’t just a temporary move, and that Foles would be the starter “moving forward.”

Foles came on in relief of Mitchell Trubisky Sunday, and led an improbable comeback over the Falcons to improve Chicago to 3-0. Foles was traded from Jacksonville this offseason, and lost the abridged training camp battle to Trubisky. Everyone figured Trubisky would be on a short leash, but after the Bears started 2-0 he had appeared to have bought himself some time.

Despite Trubisky’s heroics in a Week 1 comeback of his own, internally he clearly never had too much support. Buzz about a fourth-year leap was premature, and the UNC product will now hit the bench. In his first start with his new team Foles will be going up against Frank Reich, who helped guide him to a Super Bowl victory as his offensive coordinator with the Eagles.

Given that Foles has a somewhat lengthy injury history and is always capable of being ineffective himself, it’s quite possible we see Trubisky back under center before too long. It’s also quite possible that Trubisky, who had his fifth-year option declined back in May and will be a free agent at the end of the year, has thrown his last pass in a Bears uniform.

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