In just six days, teams may begin tagging players with the Franchise or Transition Tag, which will start the process of clarifying the coming free agent market. The Bears have a decision to make on that front with respect to Alshon Jeffery, but pundits are already putting him in free agency. We’ll see what happens.
Until then, here are Thursday’s Bullets to keep your eyes on the offseason prize …
- The Bears are already in good shape when it comes to salary cap space, but it doesn’t mean the team can’t continue to make the kinds of moves to put it in a better position to strike this offseason. Over at BearsWire, Lorin Cox presents four players the Bears can cut in an attempt to create more cap space. The four veterans (CB Tracy Porter, RT Bobby Massie, LB/DE Lamarr Houston, and WR Eddie Royal) play positions the Bears could (and frankly, should) seek to upgrade this offseason — and could probably do so in a cost-effective manner via the draft. If the Bears parted ways with all four, they could save approximately $18 million against the cap. Every dollar helps when you’re trying to rebuild from a 3-13 lost season.
- Just for discussion’s sake: if the Bears made those moves, and also released Jay Cutler ($14 million in cap savings), they could be looking at an offseason where they project to be some $80 million(!) under the expected 2017 salary cap. That doesn’t mean it would be prudent to just start inking up new guarantees, particularly without regard to how they impact future seasons, but it does mean that the Bears would have the flexibility to do virtually anything they decide to pursue, whether in free agency or trade, or whether it means letting Cutler stick around for another year as a bridge quarterback.
- Unfortunately, the Bears aren’t alone in having significant cap flexibility: the Packers released Sam Shields a day after letting go of James Starks, which leaves Green Bay a projected $45 million under the cap.
- Dan Bernstein of WSCR 670-AM/CBS Chicago writes that Jimmy Garoppolo, who is a high priority on the Bears offseason shopping list, is still a mystery. In an attempt to solve the mystery, Bernstein picked the minds of a pair of football experts. NFL Draft guru Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said Garoppolo compares favorably to 2017 NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina based on size, skill set — but with better mechanics. Hub Arkush from Pro Football Weekly added that the Patriots might like third-stringer Jacoby Brissett as much as Garoppolo and warned that the Eastern Illinois product could be the second coming of a Matt Cassel type. Not quite the vote of confidence some Bears fans had in mind.
- There is no better time to look for the type of prospect who will help your team reach the promised land than after the Super Bowl. The Chicago Tribune has a photo gallery featuring the draft’s top 50 prospects.
- And here is a slow-motion look at one of the draft’s top prospects, Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen as he beats two blockers to make a tackle:
Slo-mo look at Alabama's Jonathan Allen in run game- sheds TE down block / kills pulling OG and makes tackle-
— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) February 9, 2017
- In case you thought the Bears quarterback situation was bad, it could be worse. There was once a time in which the Browns had stability and production from the quarterback spot, but recent years have proven that instability is the only constant at the position. The New York Times takes a dedicated look at the quarterbacks who have sputtered in Cleveland.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.