You know your college basketball rivalry is a real one when you’re rooting against the coach of your alma mater’s top rival even though he is at another school.
Ah, March Madness! What would it be without rivalries and schadenfreude?
- Goodbye, old friend:
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Although it was brief, the past three years were truly an amazing experience… a great city, fan base and team. I’d like to thank the entire organization for giving me the opportunity to launch my NFL career and make lifelong memories as a member of the storied Chicago Bears.
- It’s a real bummer that the Bears traded Jordan Howard to the Eagles. To watch a player who fought his way up from being a third-string rookie running back in 2016 to a 1,300-yard Pro Bowl rusher and fan favorite isn’t easy. And even in a diminished role, Howard took it in stride and publicly displayed a selfless, team-first attitude. Players like Howard should be rewarded, especially for all the heavy lifting he did in his first two years with the Bears when he was the only reason the offense did anything other than punt. I’m glad his Chicago experience left him with positive memories.
- Another tough thing to swallow regarding this trade is how the Bears dealt him to a team they will play this season and figures to be one of the teams they’ll need to go through in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. The Bears helped another conference contender strengthen a weakness without receiving something that can immediately help their cause in a competitive year. Then again, I suppose the team could do something worthwhile with the $2 million in additional salary cap space.
- Receiving a sixth-round pick for Howard seems a bit light, but it could be a fifth-rounder if Howard plays really well … which, well, you know. But the thing is that it might be in line with what fair market value is with running backs. Carlos Hyde was sent from Cleveland to Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick last year. Jay Ajayi was dealt from Miami to Philadelphia for a fourth rounder in 2017. Using those recent examples as a measuring stick, there is an argument to be made that the Bears received as good of a pick as what they were going to get. Let’s face it, work-horse running backs who aren’t explosive game-changers aren’t going to net major returns on the trade market. At least, they won’t in 2019.
- Speaking of Jay Ajayi …
I think you basically can look at Jordan Howard as a Jay Ajayi replacement. Similar build and size. Speed was pretty similar coming out. If anything, he and Adams will compete for carries and maybe the Eagles still look for competition or upgrades for Smallwood. #Eagles
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) March 29, 2019
- There is a sense that the Bears didn’t have to make this trade now, though Howard’s draft could have tumbled further after the draft as teams would have used that avenue to solve their running back needs for a lesser cost than the $2 million in salary cap space and for a a four-year stretch rather than the one year Howard has left on his contract. The Bears could have waited until a training camp or preseason injury happened elsewhere to open up a new trade partner. Heck, they could have waited until the regular season and dealt him before the trade deadline. Then again, banking on an injury elsewhere while Howard was also at risk is asking for trouble. In the end, the Howard trade felt inevitable, so it wasn’t surprising. It’s just that the timing seemed a bit off.
- One thing I believe is going overlooked is the decline in production for Howard since his rookie season. Howard averaged 5.2 yards per rush in 2016, 4.1 in 2017, and 3.7 in 2018. We know that shelf lives are short for running backs these days and Howard carried a bulk of the load as a feature back in 2016 and 2017. That he received a similar amount of touches in 2018 (250) as he did in 2016 (252) but produced less (935 yards, 3.7 yards per carry in 2018 vs. 1,313 yards, 5.2 yards per carry in 2016) would have been a cause for concern for the Bears entering the 2019 season. But from a Philly perspective, it’s worth a late-round flier to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle and recapture the magic.
- Sigh. We’ll always have these highlights:
— NFL (@NFL) March 29, 2019
- Trading Greg Olsen because he wasn’t a fit in Mike Martz’s offense is the comp that’s going to come up a lot in the coming days, weeks, and months until real football things start happening in front of us again. However, I’m old enough to remember how people were upset when Thomas Jones was signed to replace fan favorite Anthony Thomas. And I’m glad I’m not the only one:
People crying over Jordan Howard remind me of people crying when they replaced Anthony Thomas with Thomas Jones. Plodding workhorses are a dying breed in the NFL and he didn't fit this offense. Thousand yard seasons aren't the benchmark they used to be.
— SKO (@StartKyleOrton) March 29, 2019
- Ah, yes. The compensatory draft pick conundrum:
Seen a few tweets about compensatory picks. So many things would have had to fall into place for the Bears to get a comp pick for Jordan Howard in the 2021 (!!) draft. It’s not a reason to keep a guy for $2.5 million if you decide he’s not going to be part of your offense.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) March 29, 2019
- Essentially, the Bears traded Howard to get a similar pick to what they would have received in 2021, but get said pick in 2020.
- Speaking of picks:
As of now, here's what they have & are projected to have in 2020:
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) March 29, 2019
- If GM Ryan Pace wanted to move up for a splash pick, it’s looking he’ll be in a position to do so. Nice.
- Alshon Jeffery dropped in with a tweet after the news broke:
— Alshon Jeffery (@TheWorldof_AJ) March 29, 2019
- Kyle Long weighed in, too:
Im happy Jordan went from one good team to another he deserves to win! Philly you’re gonna love him
— Kyle Long (@Ky1eLong) March 29, 2019
- A view from the other end of the trade spectrum:
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticPHI) March 29, 2019
- 🎵 we’ve got hiiiiiigh hopes 🎵
Bears top two RBs are now Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. High hopes in Chicago for both.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 29, 2019
- It’s wild to think about how the three biggest names leaving the Bears this offseason are a 2015 fifth-round pick (Adrian Amos), a 2016 fifth-round selection (Howard), and an undrafted free agent from the class of 2015 (Bryce Callahan). Pace and his scouting staff have done a heck-of-a job working the late rounds of the draft, which they’ll need to continue doing in order to get through this stretch of losing popular and productive players during a competitive window.
Teams that are good and maintain that, build through the Draft. The #Bears are going to have to give out some big contracts but Ryan Pace has acquired some 2020 picks and can work with them for that draft.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) March 29, 2019