Buffalo Bills sign Chicago Bears castoff QB Mitchell Trubisky to back up Josh Allen
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane does not expect Mitchell Trubisky to be a member of the team in 2022. But for 2021, the former Chicago Bear is going to serve as one of the most capable backup quarterbacks anywhere in the NFL.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft is getting a second lease on his football life after signing a one-year contract worth $2.5 million on Thursday to be Josh Allen’s caddie.
“This is a reset for him,” Beane said during a Zoom call with reporters, moments after the deal was finalized and he and Sean McDermott had spoken to former backup Matt Barkley about the decision.
“We don't expect him to be here long term,” Beane continued. “This is kind of a one year, probably not in his plans when he was drafted where he was, but we hope it's a great reset for him. Sean uses the ‘Make you be the best version of yourself here in Buffalo’ and then hopefully in a year, he'll get a chance to go back and land a nice contract and a starting job somewhere. We have no doubt that that'll happen, but we're excited to add him here in the mix.”
Trubisky took a beating in Chicago from media and fans, and much of it had to do with his inability to meet enormous expectations as the No. 2 overall pick and being chosen by the Bears ahead of Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom have gone on to become superstars.
But Trubisky’s play has not been as terrible as media and fans in Chicago will have you believe. He started 50 games and had a record of 29-21 with two playoff appearances.
NATE DAVIS:Five things we've learned now that NFL free agency has officially begun
NFL TV DEAL:League reaches 11-year agreement that sends Thursday games to Amazon
NFL FREE AGENCY TRACKER:Keep pace with offseason's major moves
To be fair, he has been helped by a very good Bears defense, but for his career the 26-year-old has completed 64% of his passes for 10,609 yards with 64 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. Not awful by any stretch, and in comparison to Barkley’s sparse resume, well, there is no comparison.
“Physically very talented, athletically he can do some of the same things that Josh can do with the RPOs that Brian Daboll will use in this offense,” said Beane. “I don't know all what went on in Chicago, good, bad, but he started 50 games, he won 29. He was 29-21. I think the label sometimes has been put on Mitchell from afar that maybe he doesn't deserve at all.”
When you look back at that 2017 draft, what had so many analysts perplexed about the Bears’ decision to take Trubisky is that he really had only one season as a starter in college at North Carolina. In 2016 he completed 68% of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. The previous two years he threw a combined 125 passes, mostly as a reserve.
His numbers paled in comparison to those put up by Mahomes at Texas Tech and Watson at Clemson, but Bears GM Ryan Pace made the call to take Trubisky and he has been vilified for it ever since.
When the Bears decided against exercising the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s contract which would have gone into effect in 2021, and they acquired Nick Foles prior to last season, the writing was on the wall. Sure enough, he was allowed to hit free agency and now the Bears have signed Andy Dalton to take his place.
Beane did not come out and say it, but there’s little doubt that Trubisky would be an upgrade over Barkley if there came a point where Allen had to miss time because of an injury.
Barkley started one game for the Bills, that in 2018, and the rest of his scant playing time came in mop-up duty or when Allen was pulled from the season ending games in 2019 and 2020 to protect him for the playoffs.
“I would say we were a game away from the Super Bowl and injuries happen,” Beane said. “This guys’ won 29 games in 50 starts, he’s got a good resume even though he’s a younger player. We know how Josh plays – Josh is not scared to try to lower his pads or take a hit and if Josh goes out for a few weeks or something like that, we want to make sure we have the best player that we can.”
McDermott agreed, saying, “We’re always trying to add good pieces to our football team. We all agree that quarterback is an important position. We want to make sure that we continue to add good football players at every position, and at this position in particular. We felt like it was an opportunity for us to do that.”