Emma's Bears Mailbag: Will Trubisky Sink Or Swim?

After struggling in 2019, Mitchell Trubisky will battle Nick Foles for the starting job.

Chris Emma
March 30, 2020 - 1:02 pm
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(670 The Score) In a sports world on pause, NFL free agency was a welcome distraction amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bears added a quarterback competitor in Nick Foles, brought in a complementary rushing threat to Khalil Mack in Robert Quinn and added depth elsewhere on their roster.

That has led to Bears questions from you, so let's provide some answers in a mailbag.

From @PeteMorich: What's your take on Mitch Trubisky's performance with the higher level of competition? Does he sink or swim?

Trubisky's confidence was clearly shot as he and the Bears struggled in 2019. He wasn't himself as the burden of coming up short fell largely on his shoulders. I don't envision a 2020 in which Trubisky finds a sharp mental edge and thrives on the field.

Inside Halas Hall, Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy will be asking themselves the same question that outsiders are wondering. How will Trubisky handle battling for his job against a proven competitor?

Foles represents formidable competition, having led the Eagles to the Lombardi Trophy in February 2018 and earned the Super Bowl MVP honor. He arrives in Chicago with a strong comfort in Nagy's playbook and familiarity with the coaching staff. Foles is a confident player ready to fight for the starting job.

The NFL appears unlikely to have an offseason program -- perhaps there will be a shortened minicamp at some point -- so training camp will largely decide the Bears' quarterback battle. With a smaller window for the competition to play out, the Bears' starter in Week 1 could be whichever quarterback whom Pace and Nagy preferred going into camp.

From @jdaugherty34: Have and/or are the Bears quietly trying to trade Trubisky?

A trade of Trubisky doesn't seem at all likely. Even if the Bears were motivated to trade Trubisky, there isn't much of a market for quarterbacks. Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are still free agents, and the Bengals are hoping to trade Andy Dalton.

I also tend to believe Pace and Nagy when they detail their hope that Trubisky can bounce back to some degree this season. If that's to be the case, Nagy will need to make adjustments to his offense that play to Trubisky's strengths and give him a better chance to succeed.

To their credit, the Bears sought the necessary competition for Trubisky in Foles, who represents the contingency plan if Trubisky continues to struggle. 

Back in January, Pace referred to "the dividends that can pay off if (Trubisky's development) comes to fruition." The Bears want to see it through during the final year of his rookie deal.

From @TheGravityStorm: What in the world is going on with ARob's contract extension? What other salary cap savings are on the table for one more free-agent pickup (safety Tony Jefferson)?

This is an excellent question and one to which I'm seeking an answer. Only the Bears seem to know what their current salary cap situation looks like.

The Bears are believed to have just shy of $2 million in available cap space once the contracts for Foles, Quinn and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi are completed. But the Bears also likely have an agreement or two in place to restructure existing contracts, meaning Pace is operating with a different number for the Bears' cap space.

There are some short-term needs for the Bears to address with their available cap space. Jefferson isn't likely in play given the Bears already have three safeties -- Deon Bush, Jordan Lucas and Kentrell Brice -- set to compete next to Eddie Jackson.

The big-picture goal for the Bears with whatever cap space they can create will be to sign top receiver Allen Robinson to a long-term extension. That may take some time to happen.

From @cpanaguiton3: Are the Bears set on starting Deon Bush at SS? 

The Bears seem set for a three- or potentially four-man competition at safety. They have signed Bush, Lucas and Brice this offseason and could add a safety in the NFL Draft in late April.

Bush should have the edge in a position battle, given his four years of familiarity with the Bears and with a year of experience playing for defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano under his belt. The likelihood of no offseason program would also be likely to increase Bush's advantage.

But the Bears also see potential in Lucas and Brice, so this competition will be interesting.

From @jermaine611: When and where will the Bears get their speed threat this year?

The Bears aren't lacking speed on their roster. What they need Nagy to help unlock it with his play calls -- and the players to execute when the opportunities for explosive plays arise.

Nagy and his restructured coaching staff need to transform their scheme this offseason. Tarik Cohen is one of the most explosive players in the NFL but averaged a career-low 4.7 yards per touch and just 3.3 yards per carry in 2019. Cordarrelle Patterson had only 28 touches on offense in 16 games. Anthony Miller had only 17 catches in the first nine games of the season.

Nagy must use the speed at his disposal.

From Nick D Dicostanzo on Facebook: What are the chances someone gives the Bears a draft pick for Burton if dealt?

It's hard to imagine any trade of tight end Trey Burton given that he had hip surgery this offseason and teams are struggling to have physicals conducted during the coronavirus outbreak.

Burton is also due a combined $12.7 million in base salary over the next two years after producing only 14 receptions last season. His contract isn't appealing to trade suitors.

From Jon Friedman on Facebook: Will there be another kicker tryout? 

The Bears believe in Eddy Pineiro as their long-term answer as kicker, but it's possible they could press him with veteran competition. 

If veteran kickers remain on the open market weeks or months from now and the Bears have their salary cap complications figured out, they could take a low-cost chance on a competitor for Pineiro and create another position battle for camp.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.