BUFFALO, N.Y. — The highest-drafted player on the Buffalo Bills‘ roster is not recently extended quarterback Josh Allen — it’s former Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who signed with Buffalo this offseason after four seasons in the Windy City.
The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option despite drafting him at No. 2 in 2017, and the North Carolina alum said he didn’t have “as many options as you think” in free agency. But when Buffalo showed interest, he saw it as a strong contingency plan.
“At first, I wanted to go to a spot where I would get to compete for a starting position, but the right situation didn’t come up and the opportunity wasn’t there,” he said. “I looked at the next best thing, where I could continue to develop and continue to progress and become a better player and a person and fell into this organization, and I loved it ever since coming to Buffalo.
“It’s just really nice to be a part of a great team and be somewhere where people want you here, and they care about how you’re progressing as a person, as a player. It was an interesting process, but I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be right now, and I’m enjoying being here.”
Trubisky had a strong second season with the Bears, passing for 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns, helping his team win 11 games and the NFC North in the process. But he failed to build on that performance in either of the next two seasons and was ultimately replaced by Nick Foles in the starting lineup at the start of last season before returning to the starting role later in the season.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane pointed to Trubisky’s 50 career starts as a benefit to having him in the team’s quarterbacks room, and although he went 29-21 in those starts, Trubisky said he doesn’t feel as if he got a raw deal in Chicago. He also said his departure from Chicago was not a surprise, given his performance over his last two seasons with the team.
“I kind of saw it coming, just the way I was progressing. Year 2 was really good and then Year 3 and 4, not as good,” Trubisky said. “I was dealing with some injuries and some other things going on there, but like I said, it was disappointing but it wasn’t a surprise. Throughout the process, you can kind of see that they were just continuously believing in me less and less, and that’s just kind of how that process went.”
Shortly after signing Trubisky, Beane said he and his staff did not expect the 26-year-old to be in Buffalo for more than a season as he rebuilds his stock as a starting quarterback — but Trubisky has already made an impression on his teammates in his short time in western New York.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs said he can “definitely feel” Trubisky’s presence on the practice field, and Allen said the two of them have grown close over the past few months.
“Mitch has been awesome. He’s quickly developed into one of my good friends,” Allen said. “He comes in with a great attitude every day and he’s working his tail off and he’s not afraid to ask questions about the offense. He’s here to help this team win in whatever that way may be. We’re lucky to have him, I’ll tell you that.
“He’s got another year of experience, and he’s played in, like, 50-something games. So he has a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge and a lot of ideas that he’s been throwing around in the meetings. We’re lucky to have him, and he’s going to continue to be great for us.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott said the team is still figuring out which starters will play in Friday’s preseason opener against the Detroit Lions; it’s likely Allen will sit as starting left tackle Dion Dawkins continues to work his way back from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Friday represents Trubisky’s first step toward rebuilding his image as a starter, and against a familiar opponent — he went 5-3 against the Lions during his four seasons in Chicago.
But next week, the Bills travel to Soldier Field to play the Bears and although he said he is focused on the Lions, Trubisky admits it would be strange facing his former team.
“It’ll be weird going back there,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to going back there.”