In an ideal world the Bears will land a decent free-agent quarterback, draft a young one in April, perhaps with their second-round pick, and have the veteran groom the rookie.
Here's a look at the top quarterbacks in the draft and how they did at the NFL combine last week in Indianapolis.
Southern Cal, 6-5, 233
Let's get this out of the way: Carson Palmer will be the top pick in the NFL draft. The only way for the Bears to get Palmer is to trade up and that's highly unlikely, even for a Heisman Trophy winner who threw for over 4,200 yards as a senior.
The one knock on Palmer is that he had only one spectacular college season. Is that enough to justify a general manager risking a top pick and maybe his job if Palmer turns out to be a bust?
"The quarterback issue at draft time is always iffy," Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I don't care how good an evaluator your are or what your track record is, you draft a guy in the first round it's a crap shoot. It's 50-50. And that's the thing that will concern most teams. You look at guys who were the second, third or fourth pick of the drafts and if they were busts, people will start to point fingers. What you've got to keep in mind is if they were the second and didn't get picked second, they'd be picked third, fourth or fifth. When one of us is wrong, we're kind of all wrong. And that tells you how iffy the quarterback evaluation process really is."
But what's evident when you meet Palmer is his confidence. He's not fazed by the possibility of following former first-round flops Akili Smith and David Klingler in Cincinnati.
"I think I'm different from those guys," Palmer said. "I think I'm a different player, a different person that the guys they've drafted in he past. Not to say I'm better than them or anything like that. But I haven't met a whole lot of people like me. I look for the positives in everything."
He wasn't afraid to throw at the combine, even though his workout reportedly was average.
"I'm not worried about looking better or looking worse," Palmer said before his workout. "I'm just looking forward to doing it. I love throwing. That's why I play football."
And he's not afraid to say he's a work in progress.
"Every quarterback here needs to get better in every aspect of their game," he said. "The level of football that we're going into is so much different. There's not one aspect of our game that we can over look and say, 'OK, I'm fine in this area; I'll just work on my throwing.' You need to work on your feet, your reads, your decisions, your knowledge of the game, your timing, everything."
Palmer is well versed in the west-coast offense, which Southern Cal ran his first two years, and a more wide-open, pro-style offense that offensive coordinator Norm Chow implemented two years ago in order to take advantage of Palmer's arm.
Billick said Palmer stood so far above the pack at the Senior Bowl and it didn't really matter if he didn't have great showing at the combine.
"He was very impressive in the Senior Bowl," Billick said. "In this circumstance it's a little different. What I saw in the Senior Bowl, you can see a guy on film and you can see him on TV, but to see him physically and the way he worked the ball. He's probably solidified himself as the No. 1 quarterback."
Byron Leftwich, Marshall, 6-5 3/4, 240
Byron Leftwich presents a classic dilemma. No one can question his desire or toughness after playing in the GMAC Bowl on a broken tibia he injured in November. But now, because it was Leftwich's second injury to the same leg (he had a stress fracture in 2001 that required a rod to heal) teams may question his durability.
"Injuries happen in football," Leftwich said. "Even though they were two different injuries....It's just like hurting two different fingers. But its the fingers and all of a sudden you've got finger problems."
So why would Leftwich wait until the combine to reveal his injury was much more serious than the school let on?