Cam Newton signed with the New England Patriots on Sunday, because of course he did.
Newton’s incentive-laden, one-year deal is a tremendous move for the Patriots, who took a low-risk, high-reward bet on the 2015 NFL MVP’s health. Because if Newton is healthy, there is no chance he isn’t the Patriots’ starter – sorry, Jarrett Stidham. A healthy Newton is a great Newton.
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So if all it took was the league minimum and a ton of incentives to sign the 31-year-old Newton, why didn’t the Bears roll the dice on a potentially great quarterback?
And why, instead, did the Bears give up as much as they did for Nick Foles?
The answer isn’t a good one: They needed to do something safe.
That’s what happens when you screw up.
If the Bears signed Newton, they would’ve thrust a guy with legitimate questions about his health into a battle with Mitch Trubisky. What if Newton showed up to camp not close to 100 percent? What if the physical pounding he’s taken over the 125 games he’s played in the NFL really has caught up to him? What if he’s still the guy with almost an identical passer rating (85.9) to Trubisky (85.8) since 2017?
Say hello to 2020 Bears starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Ryan Pace had to trade for Foles, notably after Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers. He was the only option for the Bears to have a truly open quarterback competition – one that could make Trubisky better, but also one he could actually lose.
Foles has a history with coach Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach John DiFilippo and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. He knows the foundation of Nagy’s offense, even more important without OTA and minicamp practices to learn it.
Pace was backed into a corner and might’ve overpaid to get out. There was no way he could take a risk.
Sure, we’ll forget all about that fourth round pick and $24 million in guarantees if Foles turns out to be good. But Mike Glennon (not Colin Kaepernick) and Trubisky (not Patrick Mahomes/DeShaun Watson) aren’t much of a track record for Pace when it comes to aggressive acquisitions. The Bears can’t afford to waste another year of Khalil Mack’s prime. Or Eddie Jackson’s. Or Akiem Hicks’. Or Allen Robinson’s. Or Kyle Fuller’s.
So I’m not going to second-guess the Bears not signing Newton right now. But everything is fair game when it comes to second-guessing what Pace did in 2017.
Something tells me a guy* with the 90.7 passer rating in 2016, who previously took his team to a Super Bowl, would’ve been better than the guy who got $18.5 million guaranteed a year after throwing 11 passes. Maybe, just maybe, the course of Trubisky’s career is different if he had a competent quarterback ahead of him on the depth chart in 2017.
Or maybe the Bears would’ve won the Super Bowl in 2018 had they drafted a great quarterback AND had the NFL’s best defense. We’ll never know, but we will be trolled by Photoshops of Mahomes in a Bears jersey for as long as the Internet exists.
And we’ll never know if the 2020 Bears could’ve rejuvenated Newton’s career, because of the mistakes made three years ago. Oh well.
Anyways, congrats to the Patriots on winning Super Bowl LV with Newton hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
*Colin Kaepernick, who is still unsigned despite being a much, much better quarterback than Mike Glennon ever has been. Want to know who’s on a roster right now, in 2020? Mike Glennon. Gross.
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