By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Forget where Bears general manager Ryan Pace went to college, the proximity of Rolling Meadows to Halas Hall and every other coincidence you can conjure up.
The Bears’ only chance at landing intriguing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo comes at the Patriots’ price. Good luck in that bidding war.
While recent reports that the Bears have interest in Garoppolo weren’t at all surprising, the fact remains that the Patriots will run a mean bidding war in selling their 2014 second-round pick. After all, Tom Brady turns 40 in his next training camp, and while he isn’t slowing down in yet another Super Bowl run, the reality is that age eventually catches up.
The Patriots don’t seem reluctant in putting Garoppolo on the market. Having one of the greatest quarterbacks the game has ever seen offers Bill Belichick that right. The head coach and just about everybody else in New England believes that Brady has more championships in store. Who’s to doubt them?
As they prepare for Super Bowl Sunday in Houston, the Patriots have the luxury of an all-time great as their starter and a potentially promising 25-year-old as the backup. Belichick plucked Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois as Brady insurance, and he’s only needed to break glass for a four-game emergency early this season.
Maybe the Patriots have the next Aaron Rodgers as their backup like the Packers had behind Brett Favre. Perhaps he’s just another Matt Cassel, a capable No. 2 at best. But in the NFL, every executive and coach believes they can develop better than the last bunch.
So here we are, with the bidding war set to begin. The Patriots won’t give up Garoppolo without a major haul in return.
The Patriots’ first call will likely be to the Browns, who boast picks Nos. 1, 12, 33, 52 and 65 as potential trade chips. You better believe Belichick wants his hands on a first-round pick if he can get it.
What would be the Bears’ best offer?
They wouldn’t be wise to part ways with their No. 3 selection in this upcoming draft — hello, Jonathan Allen? — nor should they move a package of picks. Pace and his brass have too many holes to fill in this roster. Positions like receiver, tackle and defensive end are in need. Oh, and they may replace the entire secondary.
Perhaps Pace could ante up on his third season at the helm and trade a 2018 first-round pick, bettering the Bears for 2017 and preparing the chance to contend. It would be quite the gamble — look no further than the price Jerry Angelo paid the Broncos for one Jay Cutler.
Another option would be locking top receiver Alshon Jeffery into a contract and moving him to New England. Of course, the logistics of that would be daunting.
The Patriots will draw interest not only from the Bears and Browns but likely the Jets, 49ers and Texans, among others. Belichick will surely be crafty in creating a silent auction for the quarterback.
While Pace creates his best offer, it’s important to note Garoppolo’s career stat line — 63-of-94 passing, 690 yards, five touchdowns, zero interceptions. He has a strong arm and has shown poise in the pocket, but he’s far from a proven veteran.
However, Garoppolo does have three years of development with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the tutelage of Tom Brady. That’s something to which no rookie can compare. He also is entering a contract year in 2017.
The Bears have spent this season scouting Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and more as they consider their quarterback future. What Pace and his team of scouts think of the group is something they keep internal. Ultimately, that could play the greatest role in a potential push for Garoppolo.
Should Pace believe that Garoppolo can be a franchise quarterback in Chicago — and it’s quite the gamble — it will take a battle at the bargaining table with one Bill Belichick.
The price better be right for the Bears. Their future is counting on this.