Since the Chicago Bears’ season ended yesterday, one of their impending free agent quarterbacks has not been shy about politicking to stay in the Windy City.
As reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, veteran Brian Hoyer spoke up about his desire to stay with the team, saying:
“I would love to stay here. I have comfortability with Dowell (Loggains) and his offense. Got an opportunity to play in the games and I think that kind of showed I know what to do and then learning my teammates. I saw what Coach (John) Fox said, we’re not that far off. Everybody is going to say that. I have been on a lot of different teams, lot of different situations. I agree with him on that part. We’ve got young guys that stepped up like Cam (Meredith), Jordan (Howard) and Cody (Whitehair). Those three guys right there, you mix them in with the veterans that are here … obviously injuries, not to make an excuse, had a lot to do with what happened here.
As we all remember, Hoyer took over the starting quarterback job when Jay Cutler injured his right thumb early in the season and went on to complete 67% of his passes for 1,445 yards, 6 TDs, and no INTs on 200 attempts for a QB rating of 98.0. Unfortunately, the Bears were only 1-4 in his five starts.
And, as we all likely remember, his play sparked a quarterback controversy in which many—including perhaps John Fox, though he claimed otherwise—thought that Hoyer should remain the starting quarterback even when Cutler had returned from injury.
Indeed, Cutler’s quick activation following Hoyer’s season-ending shoulder injury against the Green Bay Packers could be evidence that the former starter was benched rather than injured by that point.
Anyway, with Cutler possibly been on the outs with the organization after eight years and the Bears likely to draft a quarterback within the first three rounds of the upcoming draft in April, there is a strong possibility, based on his strong play last year, that Hoyer could remain with the team and be a bridge starter for whatever rookie quarterback the Bears choose to draft.
In fact, Hoyer—perhaps in another lobbying move—even said that he would be receptive to taking a young quarterback under his wing.
Hoyer also tells us he has no problem mentoring young quarterback if the situation arises here in Chicago, or anywhere.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) January 2, 2017
Given the injuries and uncertainty around Cutler, as well as the declining performance of Matt Barkley (12 INTs total, 10 INTs in last three games), it seems as if Hoyer is definitely angling to return to a situation in Chicago where he very well could seize an opportunity to start.
While Hoyer’s safe, smart approach may not necessarily translate into points and wins, as evidenced by this season, the Bears would at least have a stable option in place that could also help groom their potential franchise quarterback, assuming that Cutler doesn’t return and fill the stopgap role himself.
I wasn’t a big fan of Hoyer playing over Cutler while the latter was on the roster, but given Hoyer’s production at roughly 1/8 Cutler’s price tag ($2 million vs. ~$16 million), the Bears might think it a worthy investment to roll with the journeyman over their mystifying signal-caller of eight years.
2016 INT stats…
Matt Barkley: 14 INTs; 6.5 INT%
Brian Hoyer: 0 INTs; 0 INT%
…which vet QB do you think John Fox is gonna want back?
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) January 1, 2017
The caveat to this, of course, is that going with Hoyer as the potential starter going into next season and letting Cutler go means the Bears all but admit that they’re not ready to compete for a title (though, to be fair, they aren’t).
Also, though his price is far steeper than Hoyer’s, Cutler is actually relatively affordable at this point in his contract, given his talent level compared to some being paid more than him.
Any thoughts of Hoyer, with a full season under his belt, leading the Bears to a surprise playoff berth in a division that features Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford needs to be thrown out now, though that likely goes for next year’s team in general, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
But ultimately, giving the veteran another year as a mentor, and a potential bridge, for the hopeful future starting quarterback doesn’t hurt the Bears at all.