Throw me the ball and watch what I do with it…
Here’s the thing about baseball: It’s always there for you. From April through September, it’s there. And if you’re lucky, it’s there in October, too. Through highs and lows, triumphs and trying times, heartache and happiness … baseball is there to lean on for a large swath of the calendar year. Rain? Sleet? Snow? Cold? No problem. It gets made up later, often on a day with better weather. Nothing else and no one else provides that option.
So, soak it in. Baseball is back.
• April is full of excitement on the sports calendar. As you can tell, I’m geeked up about baseball (and with good reason). The Bulls have a shiny new toy in All-Star center Nikola Vučević. Hockey is still kicking with the Blackhawks in the mix for a playoff spot. And the Bears have a first-round pick for the first time since 2018. If you’re a dreamer, then this is the time of year that gets you going.
• Quarterback is the thing we’re still obsessing over in these parts. And if any of you dare to create a fake RapSheet or Schefty account to “jokingly” break news of the Bears making a Russell Wilson trade, I’m going to drive a golden spike where your Union meets the Pacific. Then, you will be immediately reported to the authorities. FBI. CIA. ATF. The works.
• As for draft-eligible quarterbacks, I’m surprised there’s a narrative building against Justin Fields:
Dan Orlovsky on the @PatMcAfeeShow show today had some interesting quotes that he’s getting from guys in the know.
“Last guy in, first guy out.”
“I’ve heard there are some questions with Justin Fields’ work ethic.”
“Where is his desire to be a great quarterback?”
— Seth (Justin Fields is QB2) Steere (@SethSteere) March 31, 2021
• If Justin Fields being the lead advocate for playing college football during a pandemic when he could’ve sat out and still been the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t count as showing desire to be a great quarterback, then I’m not sure what else he can do to change that.
• Maybe it’s smoke. Perhaps it’s teams going behind the scenes to submarine a player’s draft status so he can fall to them. But whatever it is, I’m not digging it. Fields is a superb athlete and a wonderful performer. Does he have kinks to work out? Absolutely. All of the quarterbacks in this class do. I can say that about every quarterback in each class. Yes, even Trevor Lawrence. But somehow, Fields’ stock seems to be taking the biggest hit. I don’t get it.
• But seriously, where do I sign up?
• I see we’re still trying to make Fetch happen with Sam Darnold. Over at PFN, Troy Pauline name-checks the Bears as a possible trade partner for the Jets’ current quarterback:
“Obviously, the market is shrinking. It’s probably going to be a third-round type pick. The Colts are out; the 49ers are now out. Maybe you’re looking at Washington; maybe you’re looking at Chicago. I guess the sleeper would be the Carolina Panthers. That is the sleeper team unless they want to move up and get a quarterback.”
• However, Trey Wingo also says there haven’t been a bunch of teams calling about Darnold. And based on last year’s production, I can’t imagine why they would be calling…
• I just don’t understand how Darnold makes any logical sense as a Bears option. Maybe folks keep throwing him out as a possibility because the Bears don’t tend to do logical things. If that’s the case. But referring to him as “a young, low-risk option” isn’t wholly accurate. Young? Yes. Darnold won’t turn 24 until June. Low-risk? Hardly. Darnold is entering the final year of his rookie deal and an acquiring team will need to make the decision on his fifth-year option before they even see him take a snap in their uniform. By the way, Darnold’s fifth-year option will cost a team $18.8 million in fully guaranteed money if it’s picked up. That’s not a small risk for a team bringing on a player who threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (9) last year, and saw career-worsts in TD%, yards/attempt, yards/completion, and passer rating.
• Contract updates for the Bears’ depth signings, per Aaron Leming:
Some #Bears contract updates via OTC:
– CB Desmond Trufant 1/$1.075M (no guarantees)
– RB Damien Williams 1/$1.5M ($1M guaranteed) & 3 void years. $1.125M cap hit.
– LB Christian Jones 1/$1.213M ($538K guaranteed) & a $988K cap hit.
– CB Artie Burns 1/$990K. $850K cap hit.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) April 1, 2021
• OverTheCap.com has the Bears’ projected rookie pool at $8,095,344. And the site has the Bears at just $254,928 in available cap space. In other words, they’ll still need to clear some room in order to squeeze in their picks. Maybe they’ll trade some of those picks? Perhaps a restructuring of Robert Quinn’s contract can help matters. There is cap space to be created by moving Charles Leno Jr. ($6.2M), Jimmy Graham ($7M), or gulp Akiem Hicks ($10.5M). Ryan Pace sure has his work cut out for him!
• Another day, another David Montgomery workout video:
• I’ll be looking forward to this:
#Bears announce that GM Ryan Pace (10am) and HC Matt Nagy (10:30) will meet the media on Friday.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) March 31, 2021
• Ah, yes, this is what successful football should look like:
Teams that were having the most success offensively in terms of QB play that we talked to last year for #MNF all had this in common – a GREAT relationship/total respect between QB & play caller. The QB trusted what was being called, and the play caller trusted QB to execute.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) March 31, 2021
• Football is coming:
The NFL just sent a memo to clubs, saying they should prepare to conduct meetings virtually when offseason programs begin April 19, but don’t anticipate another all-virtual workout program like 2020, per sources.
Translation: Get ready to see players on the field this spring.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 31, 2021