Perfection is a goal that isn’t often reached in the NFL, but Bill Barnwell’s annual attempt at creating a perfect NFL roster comes pretty close.
Piecing together a competitive squad in the salary cap era isn’t easy, but Barnwell tried his hand at it again over at ESPN with an eye on building the best squad money can buy (without going over the cap). The Bears are far from the perfect squad, but they have two players who make the cut for Barnwell’s bunch.
Jordan Howard checks in among the stable of running backs that is absolutely loaded. Imagine being able to split touches between Howard, Arizona’s David Johnson, and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara. That’s what Barnwell has built in a backfield that is so deep, any one of three Pro Bowl backs could have fresh legs on a given play. And to think, Howard is the only member of that group with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to start his NFL career. That’s depth and quality.
Howard’s deal pays him $692,000 in 2018, but the Indiana product could be in line for a raise and an extension late in the 2018 season.
Safety Eddie Jackson is the other Bears representative on the squad. Beyond being a playmaking safety who scored on a pick-six of Cam Newton and took a fumble recovery to the house (in the same game!), Jackson brings some versatility to the squad. Jackson could be the team’s punt returner, which is something he isn’t being asked to do right now for the Bears. And while Chicago is pretty set with Tarik Cohen at the position, let’s not forget about the punt-return prowess Jackson showed while with the Crimson Tide.
No matter how you would divvy up the playing time between this cast of young stars, it’s encouraging to see two Ryan Pace draft picks representing on the team. Not much has gone right for the Bears since Pace’s arrival, but two key contributors being viewed as worthy of a roster spot on this squad is a silver lining.
If you’ll recall, Cody Whitehair was a member of last year’s “perfect” squad. So we’re hoping this isn’t some sort of kiss of death from above.