The new league year opens in 10 days, which will bring a free-agent free-for-all and spending spree across football. But because the Bears are limited with what they can spend given their salary cap situation, they’ll need to be creative as they go about improving their roster.
With that in mind, Albert Breer suggests keep an eye on Chicago as an active partner in the trade market “over the next couple of months.”
“Their cap situation will make it tough to be too active on the free agent market,” Breer writes. “But if there are players late in their rookie contracts made available, that’s one place where GM Ryan Pace could creatively improve what remains a win-now roster.”
This isn’t the first report projecting the Bears maneuvering via trade routes to supplement their roster. Last week, a report from The Athletic noted that the Bears were exploring the trade market in their hunt for a tight end. We used that as a vehicle to discuss some of the options that were offered as possible targets. Among them was 2018 first-round pick Hayden Hurst, who’s entering the third year of his rookie deal when the 2020 league year begins. Which means he falls under Breer’s umbrella of a target being late in their rookie contract who could be available.
Hurst is an interesting option who could fit the bill as a buy-low option with upside at tight end. The Ravens made him the first tight end to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he’s tumbled down the depth chart* after being the 25th overall pick in his class.
*Mark Andrews (a third-round pick in the same class) and Nick Boyle (who signed a three-year extension in March 2019) have since passed Hurst on the depth chart.
Considering their commitments elsewhere, the Ravens could make Hurst available as a trade option if they conclude that they could use his roster spot more effectively.
Perhaps the same could be said about another first-road pick from that class who was pushed down the depth chart.
Quarterback Josh Rosen was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but was drafted into a bad situation in Arizona, then traded to an even worse predicament in Miami.
Rosen was a highly touted quarterback prospect coming out of high school and still highly thought of after his college career at UCLA. So maybe there is some untapped potential for a guy who’s played just 20 games (16 starts) in two years. Rosen, 23, has completed just 54.8 percent of his passes, thrown for only 2,845 yards, and has more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (12) for the Cardinals and Dolphins. But because of his first-round pedigree, Rosen could be the type of buy-low developmental quarterback the Bears could target to bolster the quarterbacks room. And with Ryan Fitzpatrick returning and the Dolphins angling to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Rosen could ultimately be the odd-man out on South Beach. Though, that trade is something that might not come together until at some point down the line.
In any case, we now have multiple reports connecting the Bears possibly being active in the trade market when the new league year opens up. So while some might want the Bears to go wild in the free agent market, a more measured approach via trades could be a far more cost-efficient route to fill roster spots.