NFL tampering rules prohibit Matt Nagy from discussing players on other teams, even if they're due to hit the open market when free agency begins March 17. But during a video call with reporters this week, the Bears coach did reveal three important qualities he's seeking in a starting quarterback.
"I'd say leadership, decision-making and if you have some versatility as a quarterback with your legs, great," Nagy said. "If you don't, no problem. We can work around it."
It's no secret that finding a No. 1 quarterback is a top offseason priority for the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace told reporters Tuesday that "everything's on the table in regard to the quarterback position, and honestly that includes players on our current roster, that includes free agency, trade, the draft and a combination of all those."
The only quarterback the Bears have under contract for the 2021 season is veteran Nick Foles. Pace declined to reveal whether the team would be interested in re-signing Mitchell Trubisky, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent.
A year ago, the Bears acquired Foles from the Jaguars in exchange for a compensatory fourth-round pick. Trubisky won a training camp competition for the starting job but was benched in favor of Foles midway through the third game of the season in Atlanta. Foles threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the Bears to a 30-26 win over the Falcons. But he later struggled while losing four straight starts. Foles sustained an injury in a Week 10 loss to the Vikings and was replaced by Trubisky, who led the Bears to three straight wins, ultimately helping them earn a wild card berth.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Bears are vetting NFL and college quarterbacks in preparation for free agency and the draft. Having played the position at the University of Delaware and for seven seasons in the Arena Football League, Nagy is enjoying his role in the evaluation process.
"I've always been a quarterback," Nagy said. "I've played the position my entire life. I have fun evaluating the position and seeing what other players do well and don't do well, and then how it fits into where we're at.
"Right now, we're literally in the thick of everything and just so many, 'What if this? What if that?' And it's our job to make sure that we're dotting our i's and crossing our t's together; everybody, not just Ryan and myself [but] the coaches, the personnel [department], and talking through different scenarios.
"For me, I love the process. I really enjoy it. I feel like over time, for myself selfishly, there's confirmation in that. That part's what excites me."
Teams with a top-10 pick in the draft are seemingly in better position than the Bears, who select 20th, to draft a top quarterback or trade their first-round pick to acquire a veteran. Nevertheless, Nagy remains confident that the Bears will have multiple options available to them.
"There's several," Nagy said. "We can't get into that right now. There's a lot of different what-ifs. If it's quarterback X, Y or Z, including the guys that we discussed with Mitchell and Nick, what do we do to get this thing better? In the end, we've got to score more points. We've got to score more touchdowns, regardless of anything."