Matt Nagy isn’t messing around. His sense of urgency has been prevalent from the moment the offseason began for the Chicago Bears. It started with the firing of three key staff members including his offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, and tight ends coach. Every move since has demonstrated a clear overarching objection. That being to do anything and everything possible to fix the quarterback position.
After making Juan Castillo the new offensive line coach and Clancy Barone the new tight ends coach, two longtime veterans with tons of experience, the real work began. Bill Lazor joined the team as the new offensive coordinator. A man with a strong reputation for coaching up QBs. This was followed by a surprise move to promote Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator, paving the way for the team to hire John DeFilippo as quarterbacks coach. Another man with a proven track record at the position.
While plenty of people assume this is a last-ditch move by the Bears to salvage Mitch Trubisky, some wonder if there is an element of calculation beyond that. One that might see the team pursue a notable veteran this spring. Somebody with possible ties to any of these coaches. As it turns out, one name stands out far above any other in this regard.
Chicago Bears connections to Nick Foles are many
One of the most intriguing names going into the 2020 offseason is Nick Foles. Once hailed as the long-term starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a shoulder injury and the unlikely rise of Gardner Minshew has left him as a serious burden on their payroll. Expectations are the Jaguars will do everything in their power to unload his contract. The problem is because of guarantees, cutting him is not possible. That would only add an additional $12 million cap hit for a team already $2 million in the red.
The only hold Jacksonville has at this point is to trade him. Yet what team would possibly want to give up a draft pick for that contract? Especially with free agency and the draft holding a number of quality options. It feels like they might have to employ a tactic used by the Houston Texans a few years ago when they wanted to unload Brock Osweiler. They did this by sending him and a 2nd round pick to the Cleveland Browns. It was basically a pure salary dump that ended up working out for both teams.
With two 1st round selections this year, the Jaguars may view giving up a 2nd to unload Foles as a worthwhile sacrifice. It’s just a matter of finding a team that will be willing to take him, contract and all.
This is where the Bears come in.
It’s no secret the team is at a crossroads with their quarterback position. Mitch Trubisky is coming off a disappointing 2019. One that has many believing he is no longer the future of the franchise. GM Ryan Pace maintains with a little more patience he can turn the corner, but he’s not in the majority. Even so, the total overhaul of the staff suggests they’re going all-in on helping make this reality. At the same time, it’s rather interesting that they’ve also assembled an array of coaches with strong ties to Foles.
Lazor was the first to get his hands on Foles back in 2013 when he was quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. In just 10 games, the QB racked up 27 touchdown passes with just two interceptions and made the Pro Bowl.
Nagy himself coached him in 2016 when he was the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. Across three appearances, the QB threw for 410 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
DeFilippo was the last to work with Foles. This came in 2017. Foles was the backup for the Eagles. Carson Wentz tore his ACL, forcing him into the starting lineup. He would throw 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions over the final six games including the Super Bowl, winning a championship.
Think of it like this.
Chicago doesn’t have a 1st round pick. So any opportunity they can get to acquire more picks should be taken advantage of. Taking on Foles and a potential high draft choice would make more sense for them than others. Now more than ever with so many coaches who know and trust him on the staff. The big obstacle is the money with the Bears projected to have just over $20 million in cap space according to Spotrac.
Foles’ hit would be north of $22 million. Given this team has 22 in-house free agents alone to deal with in addition to adding possible outside veterans and a new draft class? This is a problem. Pace would have to find a way to create a significant amount of extra space. Not impossible by any means. With Kyle Long retiring that should add $8.1 million by itself. Releasing Prince Amukamara along with him brings another $8 million.
This isn’t even accounting for the possibility of Jacksonville eating some of the guarantees in his contract to help with the cap hit. So yes, it would be a major challenge. However, the Chicago Bears can do it if they wish. Foles has deep ties to the coaching staff, a Super Bowl ring, and a proven track record of success in this type of offense. All that’s needed is a green light.