The Chicago Bears may be one of the handful of teams who could be interested in pulling the trigger on LSU quarterback, Zach Mettenberger in May’s NFL Draft based on comments made by Bears general manager, Phil Emery earlier this week.
“Ideally … (you want) somebody in that 6-5 range,” Emery said Monday during a panel discussion at a WBBM-AM 780 fan luncheon at a downtown restaurant, citing the need to see over linemen. “The taller, the better.”
Mettenberger stands 6-5 and is the statuesque pocket passer Emery desires, so could he be a target for the Bears should he slip to the third round after tearing his ACL in the regular season finale for LSU vs. Arkansas?
The Bears face an uncertain future at quarterback with Jay Cutler a free agent at season’s end and the team’s preference to not give him the franchise tag could mean the team has a big need at the game’s most important position.
Josh McCown has played well in relief of Cutler who has missed time with a groin and ankle injury this season and could serve as a cost-effective alternative for 2014 while Mettenberger recovers from the torn ACL. The Bears would save millions in cap space by letting Cutler walk to resign other players on the roster.
“The franchise tag for the quarterback position has unique challenges because the average comes out to be such a big portion of your cap and your total money available to spend on other players to acquire to help your team,” Emery said.
The Bears have a number of players playing on one-year deals, including Pro Bowl players Charles Tillman, Henry Melton and Tim Jennings who could be resigned to new deals without experiencing a significant drop in production from Cutler to McCown.
Cutler is a better quarterback than McCown and a better long-term fit because of McCown’s age (he turns 35 next July 4), but if no extension can be worked out for Cutler, the team will have to find the quarterback of the future.
Mettenberger can be that guy.
It remains to be seen how much Mettenberger’s draft stock will suffer as a result of not being able to throw at the combine or LSU’s pro day, but if he’s available when the Bears pick in the third round, I believe they would be hard-pressed to pass up on a first round talent at that point.
Teams talk about value picks all the time and Mettenberger would be just that if he slips that far and the Bears let Cutler walk.
If drafted by Chicago, he would have the good fortune of being able to sit and learn the playbook and the NFL demands as a rookie and would be able to be the starter in 2015.
Mettenberger’s injury is unfortunate for he and LSU, but for the Bears it could end up meaning they get great value on their quarterback of the future and therefore unfortunate for Cutler as well.