Tough Decisions At CB, Panthers Fire GM Before Camp, Franchise Tag Deadline, And Other Bullets

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Tough Decisions At CB, Panthers Fire GM Before Camp, Franchise Tag Deadline, And Other Bullets

Chicago Bears News, Chicago Bears Rumors, NFL News and Rumors

How Jordan Howard did this last year is still beyond me:

If the Bears can keep their offensive line healthy and show any semblance of a passing game that would keep defenses honest, Howard could be on the brink of another Pro Bowl season.

  • Howard and his teammates are the focus of this Chicago Tribune training camp preview from Dan Wiederer. There is a belief that Howard isn’t a flash-in-the-pan one-year wonder. He has taken several measures to take another leap forward in his development in 2017 en route to a potential rushing crown, and he’ll need to reach those expectations he has set for himself in order for the Bears to make some noise in the NFC North. Behind him is a deep group littered with players with something to prove in the season to come.
  • Meanwhile, the Bears’ inside linebackers are in search of the kinds of big plays that eluded them last year for various reasons. The Tribune’s Rich Campbell previews the players lining up in the middle, a place that was gashed by opposing running backs often last season. A season-ending injury to Danny Trevathan and a suspension to Jerrell Freeman really did a number on the defense, thrusting rookie Nick Kwiatkoski into making seven starts last season.
  • A productive defensive line could help ease the pressure on the Bears’ linebackers. Kevin Fishbain takes a look along the line over at Pro Football Weekly. It’s not as if there isn’t potential in that position group, especially since it is anchored by Akiem Hicks and the return of a healthy Eddie Goldman. If Jaye Howard can revert to being the player who played well for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bears’ front seven will perform better than a group projected to be one of the worst by Pro Football Focus.
  • Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes the Bears will face a tough decision this summer with cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Johnthan Banks. Neither has reached their potential – whether it has been with the Bears or with other teams. The secondary is looking a bit crowded as we start camp, but Fuller and Banks both have some kind of prospect pedigree. Fuller was a first-round pick in 2014, albeit one chosen by the regime that preceded current GM Ryan Pace. Still, Fuller started in 30 of 32 games in his first two seasons before missing the entire 2016 season. Banks was a second-round pick in 2013, but was released twice last season as he failed to meet the expectations of the Buccaneers or Lions.
  • Then again, maybe the decision won’t be all that difficult. Chicago has nine cornerbacks in camp, including three players (Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and B.W. Webb) who signed as free agents in the offseason. The decision-makers have given themselves plenty of options to choose from, so the Bears will be in a good position to keep whichever players they feel give them the best shot at being successful moving forward.
  • The Bears lacked consistency at the receiver position last year, but somehow made a ton of big plays:

  • The deadline to sign players given the franchise or transition tags to long-term deals came-and-went on Monday, with no deals getting done. That means quarterback Kirk Cousins will play another season in Washington under the tag as the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension. Ian Rapoport shared details of what was “the best deal” offered to Cousins to remain in Washington for the long haul. Rapoport reports the deal could have been valued up to $133 million over six years. That’s good coin for a quarterback who is 19-21-1 in his career as a starter.
  • They say money can’t buy happiness, but shouldn’t you know the name of the player you’re handing out big money to if you’re the GM handing out a franchise tag tender? Here is Washington GM Bryce Bruce Allen calling Kirk Cousins the wrong name six times in two minutes.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will also play the 2017 season under the franchise tag, making a cool $12.1 million in the process.
  • After not extending the franchise tag for Alshon Jeffery this offseason, the Bears don’t have much interest in what happened in this market – other than keeping an eye on the soaring cost of prime-time players. The Bears won’t have to deal with a franchise tag for their quarterback for five years, or running back for another three years. If Mitch Trubisky turns out to be a quarterback worthy of being selected with the second overall pick and Howard is able to repeat his Pro Bowl rookie season, that would leave the Bears in a position to fill the roster around them with some higher price free agents as that pair plays out their respective rookie deals.
  • In case you’re wondering, Trubisky hasn’t signed his rookie contract just yet.
  • The Carolina Panthers parted ways with GM Dave Gettleman in a move that comes with odd timing. The NFL Draft and free agency are well in the past, but college football scouting season is about to begin. It appears as if Gettleman wasn’t all that well-liked, at least by some. Running back DeAngelo Williams publicly stated he has taken the Panthers off the list of teams he won’t play for, while Jon Beason said Gettleman accused him of faking an injury.
  • Don’t forget: The Bears host the Panthers in Week 7. Here’s a look at the rest of the Bears’ schedule, in case you’re curious who else will provide the competition starting in September.

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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.