With decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, the draft, and a lot more coming soon, the Bears are in the middle of a pretty crucial period for the franchise.
If they make the right calls and get a little lucky (OK, maybe a lotta lucky), things could look a lot different even as soon as this upcoming season.
If they get a little too bold (or a little too gun shy, for that matter), it could mean another dreadful year in Chicago.
Although I believe GM Ryan Pace’s general plan is sound, I have to imagine another rough season in 2017 will get fans pretty restless.
He and Head Coach John Fox addressed the media from the NFL Combine yesterday, addressing a number of pressing matters. I encourage you to check it out. They had plenty to say.
- And to that end, you can also catch their thoughts (and our comments) on Alshon Jeffery and Jay Cutler at those links. In short, the Bears are at a point where they decided they must allow Jeffery to test the market before making a final play at him (it’s not over!) and the team’s current relationship with Cutler is “fluid” (it’s probably over!).
- Just ahead of yesterday’s 3:00 p.m. deadline, the Los Angeles Rams placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on veteran cornerback Trumaine Johnson. For reasons explained in the fine print of the franchise tag, Johnson will earn $16.8 million next season – making him the highest-paid cornerback in the league. With that tag, Johnson has now been franchised twice in a row by the Rams and becomes the seventh player franchised this offseason. More at NFL.com.
- According to one GM in at the NFL Combine this week, a team should be able to stumble into 20 takeaways a season by chance alone. In 2016, the Bears had just 11. That’s one fewer than the 2006 Redskins and the same amount recorded by the Baltimore Colts during a strike-shortened 1982 season. Much of that issue can be attributed to rough secondary play. In the grand scheme of things, finding that franchise QB might still reign supreme, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune suggests that improving the secondary – not finding a number 1 receiver – is a close second priority. Fortunately, with plenty of cap space (and numerous hints from Pace), it feels likely that the Bears will be active in free agency. At the Tribune, Biggs runs through a number of potential options available in free agency, but warns that avoiding the landmines is more important than taking a big swing just because you can. After all, it’s easier to recover from the player you didn’t sign than the one you wish you didn’t.
- Johnny Manziel is making yet another comeback attempt, and has apparently drawn “real interest from teams” at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. I wouldn’t really expect the Bears to be involved, despite their needs at QB, but hey, I suppose anything’s possible. In reality, the Bears next QB is going to determine what the next few years look like – quick turnaround v. longer rebuild – while I’ll find a way to be fully invested in whichever direction they choose, I’m guessing that direction will not be Johnny Football.
- Speaking of the NFL Combine, you can read a bit about it from the Bears perspective here at ChicagoBears.com. For example, I learned that Pace and Fox led a contingent of more than 60 Bears personnel down to Indianapolis to scout over 330 of the nation’s top draft-eligible college players. Sounds … competitive.
- And among the Bears chief mandates: find a darn quarterback! At the Chicago Tribune, Rich Campbell writes that the Bears quarterback search resumes at the combine this week. But even as their schedules fill up with quarterback appointments for guys like Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, and Patrick Mahomes, the Bears might eventually turn towards a veteran NFL quarterback (via trade or free agency) to fulfill their needs in 2017. Campbell’s piece at the Tribune will walk you through the process.
- And finally:
— NFL (@NFL) March 2, 2017
- Yep. The bench press drill will now be open to the public. Every single year, it seems, the NFL Combine becomes more and more of a public event. This development, is just the latest in its ever-evolving transition:
There is seating for approximately 600 people for the bench press. This is turning into a mid-period Stallone film. pic.twitter.com/Jo8SWobM9e
— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) March 1, 2017