As the Bears spend the early days of the offseason at Halas Hall headquarters, drafting free agent wish lists and an NFL draft plan, general manager Ryan Poles is sure to have one eye on two big decisions looming over the rest of the league.
While they won’t be directly involved in the potential pursuit of 46-year-old Tom Brady or longtime nemesis Aaron Rodgers, the uncertain future of both legends will affect the quarterback carousel that the Bears are ready to take advantage of when it comes to a halt.
There’s no doubt that if Brady returns to the game in 2023 and Rodgers asks for a trade from Green Bay, the Bears’ grand off-season plan centered around auctioning the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft could be drastically changed. .
Let’s start with Brady.
After briefly retiring for 40 days last offseason, GOAT returned to Tampa Bay and had one of the most miserable seasons of his professional career.
Brady’s strength isn’t completely depleted, even as he nears 50. He still has the arm strength to make all the shots, but the Bucks’ battered offensive line and rambling offensive game plan has made life difficult for the 46-year-old. He can still play, but he needs more than ever before to make it work.
Brady set up a stinking NFC Wild Card round loss to the Bucks from the Dallas Cowboys. While it’s hard to imagine him leaving on that note, Brady made it clear on the latest episode of his “Let’s Go!” podcast about how he doesn’t know his plan for 2023 yet.
“If I knew what I was going to fucking do, I would have already fucking done it,” Brady told Jim Gray. “I take it every other day.”
At 46 years old, the list of teams that can provide Brady with the offensive line and weapons he needs to play at a near-elite level is small. While ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Tuesday that league teams don’t believe the Bucks are out of the picture, Brady appears to have said goodbye to local media following the loss to Dallas.
Assuming the Bucks are out, Brady likely has options between the Las Vegas Raiders, the Miami Dolphins (if the NFL allows it given the previous rig), the New York Jets, and possibly a triumphant comeback. to the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins and Patriots aren’t in the quarterback market, but Brady would be better than Tua Tagovailoa or Mac Jones. Neither Miami nor New England can influence the Bears’ likely plan to trade the first pick for a team in need of quarterbacks. If Brady goes there, it will be the status quo for the people at Halas Hall.
Put a pin in Raiders and Jets. We will return to them.
This brings us to Rogers.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed over the weekend that the Packers could trade Rodgers during the offseason if he doesn’t retire. Meanwhile, Schefter revealed on Tuesday that the Packers are “looking into” the Rodgers trade. only for teams in AFC.
Aircraft tops the list of potential trade destinations for a reliable Hall of Famer. They have a lot of young talent at receiver, Breece Hall has a young running back and they have one of the best defenses in the league.
It’s clear that New York has sniffed at Zach Wilson. After the debacle at the end of the season, the Jets risk losing the locker room if they give Wilson another chance. Mike White did a great job, but the Jets need someone with a higher ceiling to get to the top of the mountain.
It should have been Wilson.
Wilson’s absence could leave general manager Joe Douglas frantically looking for a quarterback to make the most of the window he’s created. Rogers would have been easy to sell to owner Woody Johnson.
Rogers’ contract is likely to be a big sticking point in any potential deal. Rogers has a $58.3 million guaranteed payment due between March 17 and the first week. Any team wishing to trade Rodgers must have room to cover this guaranteed payment. Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show Tuesday that “some adjustments should be made” to his contract this offseason.
The Jets believe they are one step away from becoming legitimate Super Bowl contenders. If they don’t get Rodgers and miss out on Derek Carr, wouldn’t New York be tempted to give the Bears a 49ers-like push to move them up to number one to make sure they get it right? The Jets currently own the 13th pick. This would be a big decline for the bears, but if the trading package is strong enough, the Poles will have to consider it.
The Indianapolis Colts are another team to keep an eye on if the Packers really want to trade Rodgers.
The Colts still have a veteran offensive line, a star running back in Jonathan Taylor, a promising star wide receiver in Michael Pittman Jr., and a talented defense. General manager Chris Ballard has repeatedly missed experienced plug-and-play retreaded quarterbacks since Andrew Luck retired.
With his job at stake, would Ballard be more interested in risking everything for Rogers or trading him for the top spot to go with an untested rookie?
The decisions/wishes of Brady and Rogers will also affect Carr, the best veteran on the carousel at the moment.
Many believe the Jets will jump at the chance to sign or trade Carr. But the possibility of adding Rodgers could lead them to bet and miss out on a solid but unimpressive veteran in Carr. That could leave Carr as an option for the Washington Commanders, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, or anyone else.
The Houston Texans hold the second pick in the NFL Draft, and most believe that the rebuilding Texans will almost certainly leave the draft with one of the best quarterbacks. But what if the Texans, who have holes in their roster, decide to go down the path of rebuilding the Lions and decide to eliminate all their shortcomings by choosing a not-so-great veteran as a quarterback?
We’re slowly building a world where Brady ends up in Las Vegas, Rogers in New York or Indianapolis, and Carr in Houston, with the Bears’ pool of potential No. 1 trading partners drying up. Selecting #1 from the board would require two or three potential trading partners.
If the combination of the Jets, Colts, Raiders, and Texans satisfies their pre-draft quarterback need, the Bears will consider another plan during the draft.
Brady to Vegas seems like a possibility. While the Packers walk away from Rodgers seems less likely, it cannot be ruled out until both sides say the 39-year-old is returning to Green Bay. I still feel like Carr ends up in Washington DC or New Orleans or New York.
As the Bears prepare to keep a close eye on the quarterback carousel, the future of two all-time greats could materially shape the biggest part of what is to be a transformational offseason in Chicago.