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updated: 2/17/2018 11:41 AM

Chicago Bears positional analysis: Quarterbacks

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  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, left, could be a youthful target for the Bears, who need a backup quarterback.

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, left, could be a youthful target for the Bears, who need a backup quarterback.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

Editor's note: First in a series of position needs for the Bears, who have more than $40 million in cap space and seven NFL draft picks, including No. 8 overall.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace is convinced he has his franchise quarterback in Mitch Trubisky.

But the depth chart behind the second overall pick in 2017 is uncertain. Mike Glennon, who was brought in to be the bridge to Trubisky, turned out to be a bridge too short -- and too expensive -- lasting just four games as the starter. Glennon will not be back at his current pay rate: $12.5 million base. His release will save the Bears about $8 million.

No. 3 QB Mark Sanchez was inactive for all 16 games in 2017 on a one-year deal. But the nine-year veteran was considered a valuable mentor to Trubisky and an experienced asset in the film room, and he could be re-signed to play a similar role.

Sanchez has thrown just 18 passes in the previous two seasons, and he hasn't started a game since 2015, so what remains of his playing ability is a mystery. But, at 31, and with minimal wear and tear in the past few seasons, he should be serviceable.

It makes no sense to move on from Sanchez, since he and Trubisky already have a rapport, especially if he's content to re-up at the same modest salary ($2 million). If not, there are plenty of veteran backups to choose from.

At 38, former Bear Josh McCown might be too old, but he has been disavowing people of that notion for several years. Forty of his 73 career starts have come in the previous five seasons, including 13 last year, when he had a 94.5 passer rating.

A more youthful option is 28-year-old Blaine Gabbert, who has started 18 games over the past three seasons, at least five each year. The former first-round pick has ideal size (6-feet-5, 235 pounds) and very good mobility.

Somewhere in between, age-wise, is 32-year-old Chad Henne, who has 53 NFL starts, but none in the past three years, and he hasn't completed a pass since 2014. After going 13-14 as a starter with the Dolphins from 2009-10, Henne is 5-21 since then with Miami and Jacksonville, where he started 13 times in 2013.

At 35, and after 119 starts, Ryan Fitzpatrick still has something in the tank, and the Bears are one of a dwindling number of NFL teams he hasn't played for. Fitzpatrick has started games for seven teams, and the last time he didn't start at least three games in a season was 2007.

The Bears will not invest a premium draft pick on a quarterback this year. But Pace has, in the past, floated the idea of drafting one every year or so, and they could take a flyer on a signalcaller on Day 3, someone who projects as a career backup or who needs time to develop.

The most intriguing possibility could be Richmond's Kyle Lauletta, who bears some interesting similarities to Trubisky. Lauletta is unlikely to come off the board in the first three rounds, partly because he faced a lower level of competition. The 6-2½ Lauletta started 34 games and, like the 6-2 Trubisky a year ago, he doesn't have much experience working directly under center.

But he gets high marks from Pro Football Weekly's scouting/draft expert Greg Gabriel for his "smooth, swift release, accuracy and strong football character." Gabriel also likes Lauletta's leadership, athleticism and ability to make plays with his feet, which are some of the attributes that make Trubisky special.

Troy's Brandon Silvers is another underpublicized quarterback who didn't face elite competition but could be a value pick on Day 3 because he possesses some impressive characteristics. He was a four-year starter at Troy, and Gabriel touts his "impressive athleticism," and says he "throws well on the run."

• Bob LeGere is a senior writer at Pro Football Weekly. Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere or @PFWeekly.

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