Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles will compete for the Bears’ starting quarterback job, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy said during a conference call with Chicago media Friday.
“We’ve increased competition at a critical position and we talked to both players, and the way we view this is it’s an open competition,” Pace said. “And credit to both those guys for embracing it.”
The Bears entered free agency last month with an urgent goal to acquire a veteran quarterback to challenge Trubisky. The second overall pick of the 2017 draft, Trubisky finished the 2019 season 28th in Total QBR (39.4), tied for 27th in touchdown passes (17), 21st in passing yards (3,138), 32nd in yards gained per pass attempt (6.1) and 28th in quarterback rating (83.0).
“What’s important, and what you are going to find out in this process, is it’s going to be real simple — it’s going to very transparent and very honest,” Nagy said. “What I thought was really neat was when we talked to Mitch, which speaks to who he is. You could feel how much of a competitor [he is], and you know it, and you see it. He’s a competitor. … He understands that all he wants to do is be the best quarterback he can be for the Chicago Bears, and that’s what he’s going to do as we move on here.”
Nagy envisions Trubisky and Foles splitting reps in training camp and both playing in preseason games. Nagy added that Trubisky will take the first snaps on Day 1 of practice.
Trubisky, 25, underwent surgery in January to repair a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder but is expected to be medically cleared by the summer. The Bears have yet to commit to picking up Trubisky’s fifth-year option. A decision is due in May.
The Bears traded their 2020 fourth-round compensatory draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Foles and, in the process, inherited a contract that included approximately $21 million in guarantees. Foles, 31, later restructured the deal to allow him to void either of the final years, depending on the upside of his performance.
There is a strong familiarity between Foles and Chicago’s coaching staff. Nagy coached Foles in both Philadelphia and Kansas City. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and offensive line coach Juan Castillo all overlapped with Foles during various stints with the Eagles.
“A talented player and the fact that he’s played in some big games and performed well in those big games and that carries a lot of weight,” Pace said of Foles. “Then you have a lot of people in our building that are comfortable with him as a person and his makeup, which made the decision easier. That all kind of came together to make him a target for us and someone we wanted to aggressively go get.”
The trade was the latest career twist for Foles since Philadelphia drafted him in the third round in 2012. He started six games as a rookie in place of an injured Michael Vick and replaced Vick again in 2013, throwing 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions in 13 starts. Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs and was the offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl.
He was the Eagles’ unquestioned starter in 2014 but suffered a broken collarbone in a Week 9 victory over the Houston Texans and finished the season on injured reserve. Coach Chip Kelly surprisingly traded him in the offseason to the Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford, and Foles struggled before being benched in favor of Case Keenum.
Following a stint in Kansas City, Foles returned to Philadelphia as a backup quarterback and came off the bench in place of an injured Carson Wentz for the Eagles’ 2017 title run. Foles threw for 971 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in three playoff games and was named MVP of Super Bowl LII after throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns — and catching a touchdown pass — in a victory over the New England Patriots.
After subbing for Wentz in five regular-season and two playoff games in 2018, Foles bought out his contract with Philadelphia for $2 million in February 2019, and the Jaguars signed him to a four-year, $91 million contract with $50.125 million guaranteed.
Foles suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1 of the 2019 regular season and struggled when he returned later in the year.
“My career has been an interesting curve,” Foles said on a conference call Friday. “It’s been all over the place.
“It will be an open competition. I just want to go in there and do what’s best for the team,” Foles added. “Obviously Mitch has been there for several years and knows this offense really well — the Chicago version. I’ll be competing, but it’ll be a healthy competition. Mitch and I have already talked, and we want to start out on the right foot because ultimately it’s about the Chicago Bears and not about the ego of the quarterbacks.”
ESPN’s Michael DiRocco contributed to this report.