Any thought Trubisky could return to the Bears was shot down when they agreed to sign quarterback Andy Dalton on Tuesday.
When the Bears traded four draft picks to move up one spot and draft Mitch Trubisky, they were confident they’d solved their quarterback problems for the next decade or so.
Less than four years after the trade, Trubisky’s time with the Bears is over.
He agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, ending his Bears career with two playoff appearances, one injury replacement Pro Bowl berth and 29 wins over 50 starts. He will back up starter Josh Allen.
“I don’t know what went on in Chicago, but he started 50 games,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters. “The label has been put on Mitchell from afar that maybe he doesn’t deserve it. This is a reset for him. We don’t expect him to be here long term.”
Any thought Trubisky, 26, would return to the Bears was shot down when they agreed to sign quarterback Andy Dalton on Tuesday.
Trubisky did indicate a willingness to return to the Bears immediately after their playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, insisting he had “unfinished business” in Chicago.
Trubisky will be best remembered for not living up to the expectations set when general manager Ryan Pace traded for him minutes into the 2017 draft in Philadelphia.
And, of course, the other quarterbacks Pace could have selected.
Trubisky was picked second. The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes No. 10 and the Texans took Deshaun Watson No. 12. The Bears attended the Clemson pro day of the most decorated college quarterbacks of all time, but Watson has maintained for four years that the Bears talk to him before the draft.
“I have no idea,” Watson said in December.
Arguably the two most dynamic young quarterbacks in the sport, both Mahomes and Watson signed big-money contract extensions last offseason. The Bears, meanwhile, declined to give Trubisky his fifth-year option for 2021.
A parting between Trubisky and the Bears might be best for both sides. Pace and coach Matt Nagy are facing a must-win season, and Trubisky would benefit from being freed of the expectations heaped on him by a city that hasn’t cheered for an elite quarterback in 71 years.
Trubisky was drafted in 2017 just seven weeks after the Bears signed Mike Glennon in free agency. Glennon’s tenure lasted one season — and his starting job four games. Trubisky was inserted into the Bears’ lineup in Week 5. He won four of 12 starts. Coach John Fox was fired at the end of the season.
The Bears hired coach Matt Nagy — the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator that spent one season preparing Mahomes to start — to develop Trubisky. In Nagy’s first year, the pairing looked promising: Trubisky and the Bears went 12-4, won the NFC North and were a Cody Parkey double-doink away from winning their first playoff game.
Trubisky cratered enough in his third season, though, showing questionable decision-making and not running as often as he had earlier in his career, that the Bears decided not to pick up his option in May.
His final season with the team was a rollercoaster. He lost his starting job in the third quarter of the third game and returned only after a struggling Nick Foles hurt his hip in a Week 10 loss to the Vikings in Week 10. The Bears put Trubisky under center and assembled tempo-driven, run-based offensive attack, with good results. Trubisky lost to the Packers and Lions before winning three-straight games to give the Bears a win-and-they’re-in finale against Green Bay.
The Bears lost — but so did the Cardinals, allowing the Bears to back into the playoffs as the NFC’s first-ever No. 7 seed. They lost to the Saints in a blowout the next week.