By not giving Alshon Jeffery a franchise tag, did the Bears subtly tip their hand and show where the organization thinks the team currently stands? Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin writes that the non-extension of the tag is a sign the Bears know they aren’t in a win-now mode. Durkin adds the Bears also likely see Jeffery as a luxury and not a necessity moving forward.
But here is where it gets troubling from a Bears point of view.
Since the start of the Ryan Pace-John Fox Era, the Bears have cut ties with Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte – but have replaced only Forte with a young, suitable fill-in with upside. And that only came after Jeremy Langford was injured. Marshall was supposed to be replaced by Kevin White, who hasn’t seem the field often enough to make an impact. The team hasn’t gotten younger in replacing Bennett in replacing him with the oft-injured Zach Miller.
As the Bears approach the day on which the Jay Cutler era ends, dismantling the offensive core without impact starters is a less-than-ideal way to surround a young quarterback.
Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times recalls a telling quote from Ryan Pace in January: “If you are talking about adding a quarterback, you want to make sure your roster is equipped to handle that quarterback.”
So what do the Bears have in store for whomever the quarterback of the future happens to be? Pace seems to believe that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone can provide the proper learning environment for the team’s next quarterback. Perhaps Brian Hoyer’s interception-free stretch, Connor Shaw’s preseason, and Matt Barkley’s brief flashes are enough to suggest there is a glimmer of hope, but none are enough of a sample size as far as I’m concerned. Jahns adds it is important for the Bears not to reach for a quarterback in the draft despite their need. The team has strengths in the middle of the offensive line and a feature back in Howard. But there are also questions at other skill position spots, and on defense.
The door is not yet entirely closed on Jeffery returning to the Bears on a new deal, mind you. Just this week, GM Ryan Pace said there will be discussions. Though Jeffery, himself, seems to be leaning toward joining a new team.
In any case, if Jeffery does not return, and if the Bears are not aggressive in adding other skilled offensive talent, you do have to wonder how that will relate to whatever the Bears do this offseason at the quarterback position, and what they expect the team to be in 2017.
Earlier, we discussed the latest rumor, which has Mike Glennon as the Bears’ top quarterback target.