Bears fans have long salivated at the thought of an elite quarterback. A look at the four quarterbacks playing in next Sunday’s AFC and NFC conference championships shows why. Most fans and scouts would say Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers is the best qb in the NFL. At least a few might say Falcons qb, Matt Ryan is the league’s MVP and best quarterback. Steelers qb, Ben Roethlisberger is at least a borderline Hall of Fame candidate. It’s safe to say the quarterback position is pretty important in the NFL.

Now back to the Bears. Nobody would say Jay Cutler belongs in that group. Or even the next group of guys like Matt Stafford, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott.

So, how should the Bears continue in their seemly never-ending search for, if not an elite, at least a second-tier quarterback? Consider three options.

Keep Jay Cutler as the starter and Matt Barley or Brian Hoyer as a back-up

This seems unlikely because it seems like Cutler’s tenure in Chicago has run its course. While Jay hasn’t always had the greatest tools to work with, some of the blame for the Bears' last few disappointing seasons lies with him. It would also seem like Jay may still have some trade value. He would be an upgrade for teams like the Jets, Texans, Broncos, and others. The idea, however, of keeping Hoyer seems realistic.

Speaking of which:

Keep Hoyer as a starter and Matt Barkley or a draft pick as a back-up

If the Bears aren’t going to pick a quarterback with their first pick, this option makes the most sense. Hoyer played well with the Bears, though his disastrous 2016 playoff performance against the Chiefs while he was with the Texans still lingers in the memories of many.

Matt Barkley has shown the ability to improve the Bears draft position.

Trade or pick-up a capable NFL player via free agency

Jimmy Garoppollo and Tony Romo are the leading candidates in this pool. Garroppollo figures to command too high a price and Romo is too old and injury-prone for a team like the Bears.

Use their first round choice to draft a quarterback

Some mock drafts have the Bears taking either North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. After taking a look at CBS Sports scouting report on them, I’d take Trubisky, if he’s still there at the third pick in the draft. I don’t think he will be. As for Watson, he seems to a guy who was great in college, but may struggle in the NFL due to a relatively small stature and a lack of outstanding arm strength and accuracy.

What to do?

If the Bears can’t get Trubisky, re-signing Hoyer and drafting a rookie as a project in a later round may be their best bet. Over drafting a quarterback can be disastrous for a team. Think about the Browns' drafting of Johnny Manziel and the Jets drafting of Geno Smith.

Better to wait than over draft a quarterback. If you over draft, the problem remains, and a chance for another big asset is missed.

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