The Chicago Bears have a two-time 1,000-yard rusher (who was a Pro Bowl running back as a rookie) in Jordan Howard already on their roster and under contract for one more year. And yet, running back seems to be a position of need for the Bears. That feels odd. Doesn’t it?
Then again, the rumors have often sent us that in direction this offseason. Bringing in Kareem Hunt was a possibility that was never eliminated by the Bears front office until he signed with the Browns. And now, the Bears have surfaced as a team to keep an eye on in the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes. Chatter surrounding players at your position would bother most players, but Howard doesn’t appear bothered by the rumors.
In an appearance on Earl Bennett’s podcast, Howard said he isn’t worried about what’s happening on the rumor mill: “People can talk, do whatever they want, I really don’t have control over that,” Howard said. “I hope to be in Chicago. I just have to leave it up to God, and let God handle it.”
While Howard took the high road when addressing that topic, he continued to maintain the level of selflessness he showed during the regular season. Because while Howard missed out on a third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season when he gained just 935 yards on the ground in 2018, he didn’t show any frustration regrading a lighter work load. In fact, giving up carries and touches for the greater good seemed to be be something Howard was willing to accept.
“We had new pieces, so I knew the ball was going to be spread around,” Howard explained. “I didn’t know how much I was going to touch the ball and how much I wasn’t. I was just trying to be ready for my role. I had to adjust to that at first, not getting as much carries. I tried to be better all around.”
The extra work Howard put in to improve his all-around game could come in handy this season. Because even if the Bears don’t land Bell in the offseason, all signs are pointing to the team rounding out its running backs room with an upgrade from Taquan Mizzell Sr. and Benny Cunningham. And with Howard in the final year of his rookie deal and Cohen having just two years left, the Bears would be wise to find a running back who projects to be in the rotation for the duration of his four-year rookie contract. GM Ryan Pace has done well in the later rounds by drafting Howard (fifth round, 2016) and Cohen (fourth round, 2017), so it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if history repeated itself again.
“My previous years, I had all these yards and we weren’t winning,” Howard said. “I’ll take winning over yards. I had to make sacrifices to win, and I can’t be too mad about that.”
Odds are Howard will have to continue making those sacrifices if he is with the team again in 2019.