Apparently, Jordan Howard isn’t the only member of the Bears whose name is generating trade whispers.
Check it out:
Players names I’ve heard bandied about in trades this offseason…. pic.twitter.com/Z50c0UjTdo
— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) March 7, 2019
To be sure, this is FAR from a *normal* rumor, to the extent they’re ever normal – indeed, with that many names on the list, it’s hard to take any of it too seriously. But on the off chance this is something real – or, at least, for the purposes of discussion – let’s challenge the merits of Roy Robertson-Harris hitting the rumor mill. We can learn something about him and the Bears’ intentions either way.
The rumor mill was destined to start spinning once coaches and executives stated getting together at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but Roy Robertson-Harris wasn’t a name I expected to see pop up.
Think about it: Antonio Brown has been on the trading block for a hot minute. Josh Rosen is a relative newcomer to the trade block, but his appearance makes sense considering the Cardinals’ potential interest in drafting Kyler Murray. Justin Houston, Trae Waynes, and Xavier Rhodes are defenders whose current teams could look to move for salary cap purposes. But Roy Robertson-Harris … what’s up with that?
As we noted in our 2019 Offseason Outlook for the defensive line position group, Robertson-Harris is a restricted free agent. More specifically, he’s an exclusive-rights free agent – which means he can only negotiate a contract with the Bears. Sure, his projected one-year deal for 2019 ($645,000) is obviously going to be attractive to any team looking for defensive line help, but perhaps most so to a cap-crunched Bears team, right? I’d think so.
And consider his performance. In 2018, Robertson-Harris had a break-through year that fell mostly under the radar. Not only did he set career high in games played and defensive snaps, Robertson-Harris made the most of his new-found opportunities as he collected 3 sacks, 22 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, and 11 quarterback hits overall. That type of production in a reserve role likely opened eyes from talent evaluators who could reasonably consider giving Robertson-Harris a bigger snap share and larger role in their defense than he got in Chicago.
Indeed, it’s entirely possible teams on the outside see a player who could provide more with a bigger slice of the action (i.e. if he wasn’t splitting time with Jonathan Bullard and Bilal Nichols). I guess that makes sense – especially knowing his team has just five selections in the upcoming NFL draft.
But while that all sounds good on paper, I still struggle to see a winning scenario for the Bears here. In theory, trading from depth and turning an undrafted free agent into a future draft pick makes sense. But does it make sense to trade from a strength when the return doesn’t figure to be much (from a pick standpoint and without significant cap savings)? I don’t think so.
And let’s be even more clear about this: the Bears would be unwise to give away a rotational defensive lineman in the middle of a window of contention without being on the winning end of the return.
So while teams might see a buying opportunity for Robertson-Harris, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were in their shoes. In other words, his presence on the rumor mill, might be completely churned by external forces.