Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields might have a different player behind him as a backup than initially expected.
The Bears signed former Panthers QB PJ Walker this offseason as the backup to Fields and gave him a two-year, $4.15 million contract with over $2 million guaranteed. But Walker has struggled throughout the preseason and went 1-for-4 for 6 yards in Chicago’s 24-17 loss at Indianapolis on Saturday night.
Undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent who stole the show against the Colts upon orchestrating a 17-play, 92-yard drive capped off by the former Division II quarterback running in a 2-yard touchdown. On a night when most of Chicago’s starters sat, including Fields, Bagent opened the door for a new backup QB to emerge.
“I think everything’s open right now,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “I really do. I think if you have a closed mind, then if somebody is rising or executing, you always never put a ceiling on any player. There’s never that. You always look for the best in every guy, and you’ll see guys, all of a sudden they’ll get into a game and they start rising up and it’s easy for them and they can execute in that moment and in those moments.”
The Bears were introduced to Bagent at the Senior Bowl, where he played on the American team coached by Chicago offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Bagent won the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. As a four-year starter at Shepherd University in West Virginia, Bagent set the all-divisions record for passing touchdowns in a college career with 159.
The Bears signed Bagent during the spring as an undrafted free agent, and he has been a part of a quarterback depth chart that includes Walker and Nathan Peterman as backups behind Fields.
Peterman played the entire second half against the Colts and went 10-for-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown. But it was Bagent who looked like the best quarterback of Chicago’s three backups, going 9-for-10 for 76 yards with no turnovers and a rushing touchdown.
Asked whether Bagent could beat out Walker and Peterman for the No. 2 role in Chicago, Eberflus reiterated that the competition remains open.
“Everything’s open right now,” Eberflus said. “Everybody can look at the roster and see who’s in a competition. Those are all going to be open. If you close your mind off to that, then you might be missing on something. So you have to let it play itself out.”
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