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The Chicago Bears Have A QB2 Dilemma

Currently, P.J. Walker is listed as the Chicago Bears' QB2. But UDFA rookie Tyson Bagent has been making a name for himself in the preseason. And with Walker's struggles in the first two preseason games, Bagent has been pushing more and more for the QB2 spot.


This unprecedented QB2 competition that could last into the regular season has undoubtedly become very intriguing.


First, look at how both QBs found their way into the NFL and onto the Chicago Bears.


Tyson Bagent

Tyson Bagent was a Division II superstar. At Shepherd University, the quarterback threw for 17,034 passing yards, 159 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions, with a 69% completion percentage.


Bagent went undrafted in the 2023 NFL draft. Not long after, he was claimed as a UDFA by the Bears. The star out of Shepherd University has had to fight an uphill battle to make the roster so far.


Bagent was listed as the QB4 on the Bears' first unofficial depth chart, behind starter Justin Fields, P.J. Walker, and Nathan Peterman. After two preseason games, though, Bagent looks poised to make the roster and become the Bears' backup quarterback.


P.J. Walker

P.J. Walker was a UDFA out of Temple for the Colts in 2017, where he remained a practice squad player until 2019. In 2020, Walker was one of the best quarterbacks in the XFL; in 5 games, he recorded 1338 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, and 4 interceptions with a 64.7% completion percentage. Walker also led his team, the Houston Roughnecks, to an undefeated 5-0 record before the season was suspended.


Walker turned his XFL success into an NFL contract, signing a two-year deal worth $1.565 million. In 2020 and 2021 combined, Walker tallied 730 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, and 8 interceptions as mostly a backup in those two seasons.


After signing a one-year $895,000 extension in 2022, Walker put up the best numbers of his NFL career. In 6 appearances, with 5 being starts, Walker notched 731 passing yards, 3 TDs, and 3 interceptions. His numbers weren't great, but he garnered interest from other teams in free agency.


In free agency, Walker signed a 2-year $4,150,000 contract with the Chicago Bears to be the backup quarterback behind Justin Fields. His role seemed safe at the time of the signing, but after two poor performances in the preseason, his future now appears murky.


Bagent And Walker In The Preseason

Tyson Bagent's and P.J. Walker's performances in the preseason have been night and day. In the win against the Titans, Bagent went 4/5, with 37 passing yards, and had a PFF grade of 87.6. On the other hand, P.J. Walker went 4/8 with 19 passing yards, one interception, and a PFF grade of 42.9.


Yesterday's loss against the Colts was more of the same. In two drives, Walker went 1/4 for 6 passing yards with two sacks taken. On the contrary, Bagent shined, going 9/10 with 76 passing yards and a rushing TD in 1.5 drives.


Throughout two preseason games, Tyson Bagent has a stat line of 13/15, 113, a touchdown, no interceptions, and a QBR of 97.9. Walker, though, has a total stat line of 5/12, 25 passing yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception, and a 28.1 QBR.


There's no question about who's been the better player so far; the difference is apparent. With Walker, the offense looked stagnant last night; they barely moved the ball and couldn't score. While with Bagent, the offense was moving the ball well and scored a touchdown with the same WRs and offensive line on the field. The problem was pretty clearly rooted in the QB position.


This poses a big question for the Bears... what's the move for the Bears?


What Is The Move For The Chicago Bears?

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said of the QB2 job, "I would just say everything is open right now, and it's not just that position; it's every position." In the press conference after last night's loss.


So far, Bagent has looked like he deserves to be the Bears' QB2 in 2023; he's looked far and away much better than Walker in the preseason. But with a little over $4 million tied up into P.J. Walker through the next two seasons, it wouldn't be so easy to hand Bagent the QB2 role already.


With Walker continuing to lose favor, though, I believe Tyson Bagent will do enough to take the QB2 spot from Walker by the time the regular season rolls around in three weeks.


If that's the case, one solution the Bears could come up with is to have three quarterbacks on the active roster (Fields, Bagent, Walker). This would prevent them from getting either backup QB signed by another team off the practice squad.


Another possible solution could be to have two quarterbacks on the active roster (Fields and Bagent) and have Walker on the practice squad. Therefore, if another team picks Walker up, The Bears wouldn't have to pay the remainder of his contract.


This is all just speculation. And with one game left in the preseason, a lot could change. All we can do is wait until the 53-man roster is released, and we'll know.


What I will say, though, is that Tyson Bagent is starting to get a firm hold of the QB2 spot. And it wouldn't surprise me if he beats out P.J. Walker for the job.



 

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