All signs point to the Chicago Bears addressing the quarterback position during the 2017 off-season.
They currently have four quarterbacks on the roster: Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and Connor Shaw.
Cutler’s time in Chicago appears to be over, as most believe the Bears will finally rid themselves of the big contract he received in 2014.
The Bears are trying to get younger at the most important position in football and are looking to bring in a franchise quarterback of the future.
Whether that’s done via the draft or through a trade, at least one of the team's current quarterbacks is interested in staying to help groom the team's young signal caller.
Hoyer was in Cleveland when the team brought in quarterback Johnny Manziel, a first-round pick in 2014.
“I kind of did that with Johnny [Manziel],” Hoyer said. “Look, I’m a good teammate. I’ve been around. I have a lot to offer in that regard. But I also think, and this is what I said in Cleveland, the best way to show a young guy how to do it is to do it well and just do your job. But I really have a lot of confidence that playing in these four games here really re-emphasized that for me. Just proving to myself I can play at this level.”
Hoyer agreed to a one-year deal with the Bears in May of 2016 to be Cutler's backup. Hoyer started five games last season after Cutler injured his thumb in Week 2.
The Bears went just 1-4 in Hoyer's five starts but he threw for 1,445 yards and 6 touchdowns. He posted a rating of 98.0 and didn’t throw a single interception, showing poise in the pocket and good decision-making.
Yet Hoyer was hesitant to move the ball deep down the field and the offense struggled in the red zone. Still, he got an opportunity in Chicago to show his value as a veteran reserve.
“The fact I got a chance to play, that obviously helps,” Hoyer said. “When I came here and signed as a backup, knowing my relationship with [offensive coordinator] Dowell [Loggains] and what he was trying to do on offense, and then you take that to the next level and get to play in some games and know your teammates a little better – that is something we started to build. Unfortunately it ended too soon.”
Based on his solid play last season, a case can be made for the Bears to re-sign Hoyer and let him compete for a starting gig next year.
If GM Ryan Pace drafts a quarterback in this year’s draft, the kid likely won’t be ready to start right away. The Bears will want to groom him and let him learn behind a veteran.
Pace has stated repeatedly that the next franchise quarterback will need to be a good decision maker who will avoid the game-changing turnovers for which Cutler is so famous.
Hoyer fits that mold, as he threw zero interceptions in 200 attempts. Conversely, Barkley finished with 14 interceptions in 216 attempts during his five starts to end the campaign.
Hoyer isn't the worst starting candidate for 2017, as he’s played well enough to keep the team in games last season.
He’s familiar with the Bears offense and developed chemistry with breakout receiver Cameron Meredith. Hoyer also expressed his praise for what the Bears are building.
“I'd love to stay here,” Hoyer said. “I think we have the building blocks in place. Obviously, the results weren't what we wanted this year. But we got a lot of young guys who stepped up, showed the toughness, competed until the end. We'll see what happens.”