INDIANAPOLIS — In an 18-minute press conference Wednesday at the NFL Combine, Ryan Pace said the word “fluid” 10 times.
From an analytical standpoint, that gives the Bears GM a solid 0.56 fluidity/minute rating.
Most of those “fluid” mentions came in regards to Jay Cutler and the volatile NFL quarterback market. And Pace wasn’t just using the word to dodge questions about his team’s most important position. On Wednesday alone, we were told that the Patriots (reportedly) won’t trade Jimmy Garoppolo and the Bengals are asking for a lot for AJ McCarron. This on top of the week’s earlier news that Washington placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins.
Hoge & Jahns, Episode 80: LIVE From The NFL Combine
All of these developments impact the Bears, who are more than ready to move on from Jay Cutler, but can’t pull the trigger just yet because, well, everything is fluid.
“There’s no timeline on it right now,” Pace said. “It’s so fluid right now, there’s so many things, there’s so many variables in place and so it’s just kind of letting all that play out. And I think as each day goes by we get a little bit more information and it kind of helps guides us.”
Understand this: the Bears are hoping to trade Cutler, ideally for a mid-to-late round draft pick. That may seem ambitious, but it is possible. Pace likely has some understanding of the trade market right now, but a deal can’t be completed until 3 p.m. CT on March 9. And given the fluidity of the market, it could swing in the Bears’ favor by next Thursday.
In fact, that may already be happening.
Midway through Wednesday’s crazy news cycle here in Indianapolis, this tweet popped up on my timeline:
Greg Auman covers the Buccaneers, who appear likely to lose backup quarterback Mike Glennon to free agency. Glennon is still only 27 years old, but has only thrown 11 passes in the NFL since 2014. Despite that, he’s widely considered the top free agent quarterback now that Cousins has been tagged again.
And this means one thing: some team is going to overpay for Mike Glennon.
Given the Texans’ debacle with Brock Osweiler — last year’s “hot” inexperienced backup — it’s unlikely Glennon will see anything close to the 4-year, $72 million Osweiler received. That said, one industry source expects Glennon to see somewhere around $8 million per year, likely seeking more than the 3-year, $21 million ($12 million guaranteed) Chase Daniel received last year to be the Eagles’ backup quarterback.
So what does this have to do with the Bears? Well the question is simple: would you rather overpay for Mike Glennon or give up a late-round draft pick for Cutler, who is a much better quarterback and playing on a surprisingly affordable pay-as-you-go contract? At most, Cutler will only cost you $15 million in 2017 and that’s only if he plays every single game, an NFL QB bargain for 16 games. And remember, the team controlling Cutler’s contract can cut him at any point with no guaranteed money remaining. A deal with Glennon would likely put some money on the books for 2018 and maybe even 2019.
This is just one of the many “fluid” quarterback situations across the NFL that will affect Cutler’s market. Will the 49ers be able to trade for Cousins? If not, will they want Cutler or Brian Hoyer? Where will Tony Romo land?
“There are a lot of scenarios right now and there are a lot of different things that can happen,” Pace said. “It is fluid and it’s fluid throughout this week and as we approach free agency and even after free agency. It’s our responsibility to have a plan in place—which we do—that’s flexible and adaptable as the landscape is changing and that’s kind of where we’re at.”
As for Garoppolo, the report that said “the Patriots are not expected to trade” him was carefully worded. The door is not completely shut. One source I spoke with Wednesday believes Garoppolo is still available “for the right price.”
Like everything else, the situation is fluid.