LAKE FOREST – Bears undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent stole the show during Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The 23-year-old QB from Division II Shepherd University led the backup offense on a 92-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. He finished the day 9-for-10 passing for 76 yards, and he punched in the touchdown himself on a diving effort.
The question now surfacing is whether Bagent has done enough to supplant veteran PJ Walker as Justin Fields’ backup. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was quick to point out that Bagent’s touchdown drive, althogh impressive, was a small sample size.
“I know he had a great drive, and that’s exciting for people, but that’s one drive,” Getsy said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “We’re going to make that part of the evaluation, but we’re going to take the whole training camp evaluation before we make a decision like that.”
There’s two different questions with regard to Bagent. No. 1 is: Has he done enough to make the 53-man roster? Question No. 2 is: Is Bagent going to be the first backup off the bench?
He certainly can make a strong argument for question No. 1. Bagent has been impressive throughout camp, and he was impressive Saturday, albeit against the Colts’ backups. The cutdown deadline is looming. NFL teams must trim rosters from 90 players to 53 players by 3 p.m. Tuesday. If Bagent doesn’t make the 53-man roster, he will be subject to waivers, meaning any other team can claim him for its active roster.
Would the Bears risk losing a promising, young QB prospect who has possibly only scratched the surface of his potential? It seems possible that they instead cut journeyman backup Nathan Peterman and keep the other three QBs: Fields, Walker and Bagent.
As for the backup job, the debate between Walker and Bagent comes down to experience vs. potential. What do the Bears value more? The team signed Walker to two-year contract worth up to $4 million. By virtue of being the second-highest paid QB, Walker probably will make the team. He has won games as a backup in the NFL. Bagent hasn’t set foot in a meaningful game yet.
But the production in the preseason tells a different story. In two preseason games, Walker is 5-for-12 passing for 25 yards with an interception. Bagent is 13 for 15 for 113 yards with one rushing touchdown.
“Each guy has different experiences and different things they can bring as far as helping Justin, as far helping each other within the room and helping the offense, the guys around them,” QB coach Andrew Janocko said. “That’s all valuable.”
But coaches like to say the NFL is a results business. The results point to Bagent being more productive over the past month.
The Bears aren’t going to tip their hand here, but they likely will likely see Walker and Bagent in the final preseason game Saturday against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. This will be the key storyline to watch Saturday.