The Bears didn't pick up Mitch Trubisky's fifth-year option, but the team hasn't lost faith in the quarterback.
At least, that's what general manager Ryan Pace wants you to believe in the months between now and the start of the regular season.
"We've always had the approach that we're honest and we're truthful with our players and our staff, and we move on and we get to work," Pace said on 670 The Score, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "Mitch gets it. Everyone's competing. Everyone's focused on better results. That's the entire team. That starts with me and everybody.
"We believe in Mitch -- that doesn't change."
Yes, that sounds contradictory. If a team believed in its first-round quarterback, why not keep him on a fifth-year option before needing to re-sign him long-term? The situation isn't as simple, though, because there might not be a future in Chicago for Trubisky.
Or, there could be. Chicago's acquisition of Nick Foles provides the Bears with another viable option not wearing No. 10, and also brings in direct competition for the former No. 2 overall selection. We could learn a little pushing was all Trubisky needed -- or we'll realize the declined option was just a harbinger of Trubisky's eventual departure.
Pace sees the lack of commitment beyond 2020 as a potential advantage for the Bears, though not for the reasons we might expect.
"I think you can point to [cornerback] Kyle Fuller as a great example of a player that didn't get his option exercised," Pace explained. "I think we would say it worked out well for him and for us."
Fuller had yet to prove he was worth a fifth-year option or another lucrative contract when he was preparing for the 2017 season, having only played two full seasons and coming off a year in which he missed the entire campaign. He responded by having a strong 2017 campaign, one Pace deemed worthy of the transition tag, which secured Fuller's services with the Bears from 2018-2021.
Pace proved to be correct in taking a wait-and-see approach with Fuller, who has since made two Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2018. Trubisky isn't trending in the same direction, and his position requires just one starter. The margin for error is much slimmer, and there's a quarterback on the roster with a proven track record that surpasses Trubisky's.
Declining the fifth-year option is indeed an advantage for the Bears, as Pace intimated. It's just not the same type of advantage, because it positions the Bears to cut ties with Trubisky less than a year from now, not transition tag and ultimately retain him -- unless he too can prove he's worth it. With Foles in direct competition, that might end up being a difficult feat to accomplish.