Nick Foles

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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Bears Bench Mitchell Trubisky For Nick Foles

The move many predicted would inevitably happen came in Week 3, as the Bears benched Mitchell Trubisky in favor of Nick Foles. Even though the thought coming into the season was that Trubisky would be on a short leash, it was still a bit of a surprise considering Chicago had started 2-0.

Foles promptly led the team on a huge comeback, as the Bears beat the Falcons 30-26 after trailing 26-10 late in the fourth quarter. He finished his 2020 debut 16/29 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Trubisky was 13/21 for 128 yards and a touchdown and no turnovers, so it’s not like there was any one specific moment that led to his benching.

After Trubisky led his own furious rally in Week 1 against the Lions there was a lot of talk that he had made a fourth-year leap, but obviously head coach Matt Nagy didn’t feel that way internally. Nagy insisted after the game that he just wanted to enjoy the win and didn’t know who his quarterback would be in Week 4, but it would be pretty shocking to see them go back to Trubisky now after making the switch.

It’s not too often you see a 3-0 team with quarterback drama, and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens moving forward. Chicago of course traded for Foles from Jacksonville this offseason, but Trubs won the training camp battle. The Bears declined his fifth-year option back in May, so Trubisky will be a free agent at the end of the year.

If Foles takes the job and runs with it, it’s possible we’ve seen the former second overall pick throw his last pass with Chicago. That being said, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Foles is banged up or ineffective and Trubisky is back out there within a couple of weeks. Buckle up.

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Bears Expected To Start Mitchell Trubisky

Despite Nick Foles‘ superior NFL resume, the Bears are likely to start the season without a change at quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky is expected to start Chicago’s Week 1 game in Detroit after beating out Foles in a training camp competition, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This comes after a recent report indicated Foles was the more accurate passer during Bears camp, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (video link). But Trubisky was also reported to be improving. The Bears will give the former No. 2 overall pick another shot, despite not picking up his fifth-year option and trading for Foles this offseason.

Trubisky has been one of the NFL’s more maligned players over the course of his Chicago tenure. While he rated as QBR’s No. 3 passer in 2018 — when the Bears made a surprise run to the NFC North title — Trubisky regressed considerably in 2019. The former one-year North Carolina starter ranked 28th in QBR last season and averaged just 5.9 adjusted yards per attempt, prompting the Bears to acquire Foles from the Jaguars.

Foles, 31, did not fare particularly well last season either. After a broken collarbone sidelined him for much of his Jaguars debut/one-and-done season, Gardner Minshew supplanted him shortly after he returned to action. However, Foles orchestrated one of the best playoff stretches by a quarterback in NFL history in 2017, winning Super Bowl LII MVP honors. He then helped the Eagles back to the playoffs the following season, after replacing an injured Carson Wentz late in 2018. Foles’ Eagles beat Trubisky’s Bears in a wild-card game, though that contest is better known for Cody Parkey‘s game-ending missed field goal.

The Bears reworked Foles’ contract this offseason, but the veteran passer would still be a costly cut in 2021. A Foles release would not create any cap space for the Bears, and it would cost more than $10MM. But Trubisky is not under contract in 2021. He will, however, have a chance to bounce back in a contract year — at least at the season’s outset.

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Bears Will Not Name Starting QB Prior To Week 1

One of the league’s premier position battles will not be settled, at least publicly, until the Bears suit up for their regular-season opener.

Matt Nagy said Saturday he will not declare whether Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles has won the job prior to the Bears’ Week 1 game. The Bears will travel to Detroit for their 2020 opener.

Ordinarily, a team featuring a quarterback competition would name a starter by the time its third preseason game comes. With the COVID-19 pandemic prompting the NFL to scrap the preseason slate, the Bears will attempt to keep their decision in-house. Though, the clubhouse leader here will stand to see more reps than the likely QB2 in the coming days.

The Bears acquired Foles from the Jaguars to push Trubisky, who has not worked out to the team’s liking. The Bears passed on Trubisky’s fifth-year option in May.

Foles, 31, is also coming off a down year, suffering a broken collarbone in Week 1 and being replaced by sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew shortly after he recovered from the injury. Foles, however, has a significant experience edge on Trubisky, who dropped from third in QBR in 2018 to 28th last season. While Foles has not shown much outside of Philadelphia, his two late-season runs with the Eagles — involving a Super Bowl LII MVP award and a wild-card win over the Bears a year later — certainly dwarf Trubisky’s accomplishments.

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Bears To Play Both QBs In Preseason

The Bears will give significant reps to both Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky in the preseason, head coach Matt Nagy says (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). It’ll be a full-blown quarterback competition in Chicago, one that will have major implications for Trubisky’s future with the team.

The Bears turned down Trubisky’s fifth-year option earlier this month, putting the former No. 2 overall pick on course for free agency after the 2020 season. The option would have been guaranteed for injury only, but it was a risk the Bears weren’t willing to take. Trubisky finished 2019 with one of the lowest QBRs in the entire league, a step back from his Pro Bowl (alternate) campaign in 2018.

The Bears aren’t ready to give up on him just yet, but they did safeguard the position by trading for Foles, one of the league’s most coveted free agents of 2019. Foles’ first and only season in Jacksonville was derailed by injury and he’s got extra incentive to deliver in Chicago. If the veteran meets certain performance thresholds, he can void his deal early and cash in all over again.

Foles went 0-4 in his 2019 starts, completing 65.8% of his throws for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Before that, he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl ring in the 2017 season and turned in more memorable moments for the Birds in 2018. With the Bears, Foles will have the opportunity to reclaim his status as one of the league’s greatest clutch performers. But, first, he’ll have to duke it out with Trubisky.