Nick Foles

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.

NFC Notes: Foles, Trubisky, Bears, Ifedi, Lewis, Giants

We heard earlier today that the Bears were planning an open quarterback competition between Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky, but that might not be entirely accurate. Both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy insisted during a teleconference with the media that it would be a fair battle and even that Trubisky would take the first snaps whenever they hit the field for their first practices, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is skeptical.

Trubisky is the incumbent and is being treated as such for now, but Biggs thinks the team is just paying lip-service to the former number two overall pick. “Short of the 31-year-old falling on his face or being injured,” it’s Foles’ job to lose, Biggs writes. It makes sense why Pace doesn’t want to admit defeat with Trubisky, considering he traded up to draft him so early in 2017. Biggs writes that it’s the inverse of the situation the Bears had in 2017, when Mike Glennon was technically the starter but everyone knew Trubisky would be taking over sooner rather than later. As of right now, Foles looks like a heavy favorite to be under center Week 1.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Speaking of the Bears, one big move they made this offseason was signing offensive lineman Germain Ifedi away from the Seahawks. The 2016 first-round pick played both tackle and guard extensively during his time in Seattle, and Chicago is planning to play him in side at guard Pace said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Ifedi was a full-time starter the past few years with the Seahawks, but never lived up to his draft status.
  • Running back Dion Lewis agreed to sign with the Giants back on March 23rd, and now we’ve got the details. New York got a pretty good deal, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets that Lewis received a one-year deal worth $1.55MM with nothing guaranteed. New Giants coach Joe Judge was with Lewis during their time with the Patriots. Lewis turns 30 in September but doesn’t have too much tread on his tires since he’s never been a workhorse back. Lewis signed a four-year, $20MM deal with the Titans in 2018, but lasted only two years in Tennessee after Derrick Henry emerged as the undisputed featured back. He should backup Saquon Barkley in 2020.
  • In case you missed it the Lions are likely looking to trade down from the third overall pick, and they could have their eye on Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah.

Bears To Have Open QB Competition

It may not come as much of a surprise given the team’s trade for Nick Foles and his sizable contract, but Bears GM Ryan Pace has declared that there will be an “open competition” between Foles and incumbent Mitchell Trubisky for the starting quarterback job (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune).

Those were probably not easy words for Pace to say, as he famously gave up a good deal of draft capital in the 2017 draft to move up one spot — from No. 3 overall to No. 2 overall — for the right to select Trubisky. After a disappointing rookie campaign, Trubisky seemed to be coming into his own with a quality sophomore effort in which he posted a 95.4 quarterback rating and threw for 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions en route to a Pro Bowl nod.

But Pace’s vindication would be short-lived, as Trubisky had just 17 TDs against ten INTs in 2019, 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. To be fair, Trubisky did battle through a number of injuries, but Chicago still thought it was necessary to bring in legitimate veteran competition for its fourth-year signal-caller.

Foles, meanwhile, signed a four-year, $88MM deal with the Jaguars last March after leading the Eagles on a legendary ride to a Super Bowl title at the end of the 2017 season and more playoff heroics following the 2018 campaign. Unfortunately, he broke his clavicle in the first game of the 2019 season and did not play well enough after returning from injury to keep his job over sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew. The 31-year-old is not as good as he looked during his Super Bowl run but is better than his disappointing effort in Jacksonville, and even competent QB play may be enough to get Chicago back to the postseason.

The Bears still have a decision to make on Trubisky’s fifth-year option, the deadline for which is next month, but Pace said he is not yet ready to make that call (Twitter link via Biggs). Per head coach Matt Nagy, Trubisky will be the first QB in the huddle whenever the team reconvenes, but the competition will be transparent and honest and the players will split reps equally (Twitter links via Biggs).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Okudah, Foles

The Lions will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. Although they are unlikely to select a rookie signal-caller themselves with the No. 3 overall pick, they have long been rumored as a team that could trade down with another club that has a bigger QB need. And if standout Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young is off the board by the time Detroit is on the clock, Albert Breer of SI.com says the Lions will indeed be open for business, as they could move down to the No. 5 or No. 6 pick and still pick up an elite defender like Jeff OkudahIsaiah Simmons, or Derrick Brown.

However, both Breer and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News believe the Lions’ preference among the non-Young defenders is Okudah, who may be gone if Detroit trades back, and Rogers does not see an immediate fit for Simmons in the club’s defense. So unless the Lions are blown away by an offer, they could stand pat and select one of Young or Okudah.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • New Bears quarterback Nick Foles restructured his contract after being traded to Chicago from Jacksonville, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passes along a few more details on the restructure (Twitter link). Foles will earn $8MM in base salary over each of the three remaining years on his contract for a total of $24MM in salary, $21MM of which is guaranteed. Each of those three seasons also comes with an additional $6MM in available incentives, and for every dollar of incentives that Foles earns, his base salary for the following year increases (so if he earns $3MM of incentives in 2020, his salary in 2021 will increase from $8MM to $11MM).
  • As we heard previously, Foles will have the opportunity to void the 2021 or 2022 seasons if he meets certain performance thresholds, so as Rapoport notes in a separate tweet, the former Super Bowl MVP has landed jelly-side up despite a disappointing 2019 season with the Jags. He was paid $30MM for his one year in Jacksonville, keeps the guaranteed money from his Jaguars contract, and has the opportunity to hit free agency as soon as next year if he performs well with the Bears.
  • The Vikings have managed to carve out some salary cap space for themselves this offseason, and after setting aside the funds necessary to sign their 2020 draft class, they have about $8.4MM of space still available, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Tomasson says that the team is continuing to look at veteran cornerbacks, which makes sense given the mass CB exodus that Minnesota witnessed last month. Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan are among the top corners still available.
  • Tomasson adds that the Vikings are still looking into a Dalvin Cook extension, which echoes his report from several weeks ago.

AFC South Notes: Colts, Ngakoue, Titans

The Colts clearly made a quarterback upgrade a top priority this offseason. In addition to the research done on Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, and a Nick Foles trade inquiry with a division rival, the Colts looked into Andy Dalton. The Colts discussed Dalton with the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). It is not clear how far the discussions progressed, but Rapoport suggests Dalton would have needed to agree to reduce his 2020 salary. The veteran quarterback is set to make $17.5MM in base salary. The Colts viewed Rivers as a better option than Foles, Rapoport adds, and may well have felt the same about the prospect of giving up assets for Dalton as opposed to paying Rivers $25MM.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Yannick Ngakoue still wants out of Jacksonville. The franchise-tagged defensive end insists he wants a trade from the Jaguars because of issues with the franchise that do not involve money, the disgruntled defensive end tweets. The Jaguars fired executive VP Tom Coughlin late last season. Grievances came the Jags’ way due largely to Coughlin’s actions, and Jalen Ramsey expressed issues with the since-dismissed exec. Ngakoue still harboring ill will toward the franchise suggests he took issue with Jaguars staffers beyond Coughlin. Ngakoue left Jags OTAs last year, skipped minicamp and broke off extension talks with the organization. The Jags were believed to have taken the unusual step of offering Ngakoue a short-term deal. It appears he will be traded this offseason.
  • Logan Ryan remains a free agent, but it does not seem the door is closed on the veteran cornerback returning to Tennessee. The Titans have maintained talks with Ryan’s representation, Tennessee GM Jon Robinson said Wednesday. The last we heard on Ryan, the longtime starter was holding out hope for a $10MM-per-year offer. That being nearly two weeks ago points to Ryan maybe needing to settle for less.
  • Robinson expressed similar strategies regarding his team’s backup quarterback and backup running back situations. The Titans are not satisfied with these spots, though they are not ruling out respective promotions for Logan Woodside and Dalyn Dawkins. However, Robinson said the team will keep monitoring the free agent market and look in the draft for potential upgrades. The Titans released Dion Lewis, their complementary back of the past two years, and predictably let Marcus Mariota walk in free agency.
  • The Titans also will hold a kicking competition. They signed Greg Joseph off the Panthers’ practice squad last year and moved on from Ryan Succop this offseason, but Robinson adds that the team will bring in another kicker to vie for the job with Joseph. Tennessee kickers made a stunning eight field goals last season, going 8-for-18 on the season.

Bears QB Nick Foles Restructures Contract

Fresh off a trade to the Bears, quarterback Nick Foles has restructured his contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

The deal still has three years remaining and $21MM guaranteed. However, Foles now has the option to void the contract (depending on his performance) after either of his first two seasons in Chicago. Foles can presumably still earn upwards of $50MM over the next three years.

Earlier today, the Bears sent a compensatory fourth-round to the Jaguars for the former Super Bowl MVP. This offseason, the Bears had been looking for a challenger to former first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky, and Foles will give the 26-year-old a run for his money.

Jacksonville was 0-4 in Foles’ four starts last season, with the 31-year-old completing 65.8-percent of his passes for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Discussed Nick Foles Trade

The Colts have another high-profile quarterback on their payroll, with the long-rumored Philip Rivers partnership coming to fruition on Tuesday. But the team had an alternative plan, it appears.

Before the Jaguars traded Nick Foles to the Bears for a fourth-round compensatory pick, they were discussing a deal with the Colts involving a fifth-round choice, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. This would have been a rare intra-division deal, but the Jags instead shipped their high-priced passer to the NFC.

Foles worked with Frank Reich in Philadelphia, with the current Indianapolis HC residing as the Eagles’ OC during the team’s 2017 Super Bowl season. Reich played a key role in helping shape Foles’ dominant playoff run.

The Colts now have both Rivers and Jacoby Brissett on their roster, signing the former to a $25MM deal and having the latter attached to a $21.4MM 2020 cap number. That does not appear to be a tenable arrangement, but the Colts clearly came into the offseason with big plans to upgrade at football’s premier position. Foles will now receive a new start in Chicago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Trade Nick Foles To Bears

The Jaguars have agreed to trade Nick Foles to the Bears, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). In exchange, the Bears will send a compensatory fourth-round pick to the Jags. The former Super Bowl MVP will restructure his hefty contract as part of the trade, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets.

It’ll be new surroundings for Foles, but he’ll have plenty of familiar faces to help him adjust. Head coach Matt Nagy is among the staffers that have worked with him in the past, which will help with the learning curve.

The Bears have been exploring alternatives to former first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky this offseason, though they’re not necessarily out to replace him. Instead, Foles figures to serve as competition for the soon-to-be 26-year-old.

Trubisky showed plenty of promise in 2018 as he led the Bears to an 11-3 mark in 14 starts, a campaign that resulted in his first ever Pro Bowl nod. However, things got really rocky last year – Trubisky had just 17 touchdowns against ten interceptions and the Bears’ D couldn’t make up for the shortcomings. The Bears went 8-7 in Trubisky’s 15 starts and finished .500 on the season, leaving them short of the playoffs.

Chicago initially insisted after the year that they’d roll with Trubisky in 2020, but reports soon emerged that they were going to look for a veteran to push Trubisky. They’ve been connected to a number of signal-callers including Foles, Andy Dalton, and Teddy Bridgewater, and we heard Monday that they were focused on trading for either Foles or Dalton.

The Bears will take on the last three years of Foles’ contract, which pays a base value of $50M before the restructure. The Jaguars will be left with a substantial dead money hit of $18.75MM in 2020 and a mid-round pick. Jacksonville seems prepared to turn things over to Gardner Minshew, the sixth-rounder who went 6-6 last year as a rookie and finished the season with a top-10 interception rate.

Foles has had plenty of success at Soldier Field, as his last win as a starting quarterback was in Chicago in the wild card round of the playoffs two seasons ago in the infamous ‘double-doink’ game. While the Bears have insisted they aren’t giving up on Trubisky, it would be highly unusual to pay a backup quarterback as much money as Foles is getting, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t take over at some point.

Chicago now has even less draft capital, as they’ve already shipped out a bunch of picks in previous deals. They now have the 43rd and 50th overall selections in next month’s draft, but no other picks in the first four-rounds, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes in a tweet breaking down all of their picks.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bears’ QB Search

The Bears are seemingly casting a wide net and while who they add is still up in the air, it seems clear they are targeting a middle-tier veteran quarterback to push Mitchell Trubisky. They’ve been connected to both the Jaguars’ Nick Foles and the Bengals’ Andy Dalton, and earlier today we heard they’ve had talks with free agent Teddy Bridgewater.

But while they’ve had exploratory discussions with Bridgewater, Chicago is “focused” on landing either Foles or Dalton, a source told Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Unsurprisingly, Werder passes along that the organization wants Trubisky to have to compete for the starting job. He also notes that both Foles and Dalton have either played for Bears head coach Matt Nagy or a member of his staff.

Nagy was an assistant in Philadelphia under Andy Reid during Foles’ rookie season with the Eagles, and then was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City when Foles spent 2016 with the Chiefs. Chicago just hired Bill Lazor to be their new offensive coordinator this offseason, who has extensive ties to Dalton. Lazor was the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach in 2016, and their offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018.

It looks like the Jaguars are leaning toward going with Gardner Minshew as their starter, and as such would like to move Foles and get rid of his hefty contract. However we’ve also heard that the Jags aren’t desperate to move Foles, and want real compensation in return. The Bengals are widely assumed to be taking a quarterback first overall in next month’s draft, and don’t really have much need for Dalton any more. Dalton is due a very reasonable $17.5MM in the final year of his contract, which has led to plenty of trade speculation.

Both Dalton and Foles would make for very expensive backups, and while the Bears are posturing as if they just want to push Trubisky, it’s likely whoever they trade for would be a heavy favorite to start. According to Werder, it sounds like Chicago is intent on acquiring one of those two.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Interested In Nick Foles?

Michael Lombardi of The Athletic reports that a source informed him that the Bears are attempting to make a deal to acquire quarterback Nick Foles from the Jaguars. Jacksonville inked Foles last offseason to a massive four-year, $88MM deal following Foles’ tenure with the Eagles. Following Lombardi’s report, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports added that there was a lot of buzz at the combine tying Foles to Chicago as well.

Unfortunately for Foles, in his first game with his new team, he broke his left clavicle and while he was out recovering from the injury, rookie Gardner Minshew showed flashes of competence under center. Since Minshew remains on a long-term, rookie-scale, contract, the rebuilding Jaguars may very well prefer the added cap flexibility and youth that moving forward with Minshew would provide.

The Bears have well-documented concerns at quarterback surrounding Mitchell Trubisky. The second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft showed promise early in his career in Chicago, but as the talent surrounding him has dissipated, he has not improved enough to help the team make up for the shortcomings. While it remains to be seen whether the Bears are fully ready to move on from Trubisky, it’s clear they need to at least bring in some competition.