The Chicago Bears’ offseason training program is over, which means the assessments of what they did in the offseason will soon go by the wayside and be replaced by training camp tales of how the new pieces fit into the puzzle sitting in front of first-year head coach Matt Nagy.
So how about one last offseason grade-related post for the road?
ESPN polled a dozen NFL executives and asked to grade the offseason for each of the NFL’s 32 teams, and the Bears came away with a passing grade. Hooray! Chicago received a B-minus grade for an offseason, which is better than what was being handed out at this time last year. Remember how lousy that felt?
However, it doesn’t seem like these execs are totally sold on what GM Ryan Pace did in the offseason. The executives polled share concerns regarding Roquan Smith’s positional value as a top-10 pick. After all, inside linebackers in 3-4 schemes aren’t often valued in that particular range. Then again, Smith isn’t your run-of-the-mill inside linebacker prospect. Vic Fangio’s defenses thrived with Patrick Willis (who like Smith, was a top-10 pick who dominated the SEC during his college years) in the middle, so perhaps the Bears have Smith’s value accurately pegged.
Executives were also “less thrilled” about the skill-positon players the team surrounded quarterback Mitch Trubisky with during its offseason overhaul. In fact, the contract signed by Taylor Gabriel is considered to be a bad one. Gabriel’s contract is a bit hefty, especially if you consider his past production. But to be fair, Gabriel received what the market was willing to pay him to play a position that will be integral to the Bears’ offense. Still, ouch.
It’s fair and understandable if NFL front office types are cautious about jumping aboard the Bears’ bandwagon, even after what was graded as an above average offseason. Pace’s prior runs in free agency didn’t do much to inspire confidence moving forward. Even now, Pace’s offseason hinges on the full recovery of wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton tapping into his skill set to live up to his potential, and cornerback Kyle Fuller playing up to his new contract after showing out in a contract year.
Getting a B-minus grade isn’t the worst thing in the world. We all know how much worse it could have been for Pace and the Bears. Still, it’s better than what had been done in recent years. And because football being what it is, it’s likely we could found ourselves re-visiting this in the future and giving the Bears a different grade at this time next year.