Re-Thinking the WR Market, Roster Makeup, Indy Pipeline, Who’s Got the Next Big Trade? And Other Bears Bullets

It is a true shame no one brought me coffee today, because losing that hour of sleep is due to spring forward is really doing a number on me today.

•   NFL free agency begins in less than 24 hours with the opening of the “legal tampering” period. And if you didn’t already think new Bears GM Ryan Poles had his work cut out for him, get a load of this:

•   A minor oversight: I put Alex Bars in at right guard, but he technically isn’t under contract for 2022, as he is a restricted free agent (who has yet to be tendered). I suppose Lachavious Simmons could go into that spot. In either case, that doesn’t change much. The Bears need at least 10 new starters. They won’t be able to address all those needs in this free agency class. And even if you add the draft, Chicago still will have needs for fits. Long story, short: Chicago’s rookie GM has heavy lifting to do to clean Ryan Pace’s mess.

•   One player who isn’t in the Bears plans is Amari Cooper, who was sent to the Browns for a fifth-round pick in a trade that also saw Dallas and Cleveland swap sixth rounders. It is a deal that left Bears fans with mixed emotions, to say the least.

•   On the one hand, it would’ve been nice to get Justin Fields a four-time Pro Bowler with a handful of 1,000-yard receiving seasons under his belt. Established pass-catchers with that résumé are hard to find. And for the price of a fifth-rounder and a pick swap, it is tough to understand why the Bears couldn’t match or do better. But on the other hand, trading draft capital to pay Cooper (and probably extend him for more money) comes with considerable risk. Perhaps it isn’t a risk Poles was ready to take at this time. This might go down as a missed opportunity, but it isn’t as if acquiring Cooper was the only path to upgrading the receivers room.

•   As I was saying:

•   A common refrain that comes up when discussing free agent receivers is something along the lines of a preference to pass on free agency altogether in order to focus on the draft. To which I would respond that is an overly simplistic way to go about team-building and it has the potential to backfire in a major way. Don’t get me wrong. The Bears need to be actively targeting receivers in the upcoming NFL Draft. This crop of pass-catching talent is too good to not come away with someone who can grow in this offense. But ignoring this group of free agents would be a mistake.

•   The Bears need to give Justin Fields a fighting chance. And, yes, this team needs offensive line help. But it also needs receivers. Guys who can get open. Ones who can catch it after gaining separation. This isn’t to say the Bears can’t still draft a receiver with one of their Day 2 picks. They can (and should). But you don’t want to depend on a rookie carrying a heavy load in Year 1. You don’t want your rookie receiver to feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders upon arrival. Get productive, proven players in free agency to supplement the roster. Top it off with draft picks with upside. That is the play the Bears need to be making here in an attempt to get the most out of Fields in Year 2.

•   Peter King delivering an anecdote about Ryan Poles seeking inspiration and guidance from the Yankees is interesting:

•   With all due respect to #TheCubsWay plan Theo Epstein once laid out, the Yankees are the standard. If you’re going to draw inspiration from anyone, it is the 27-time World Series champions. Although, for the record, the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Yanks. Just felt the need to mention that for no particular reason this morning. The more you know, right?

•   A reminder of how valuable free agency can be:

•   Build through the draft, then round out your roster with free agency. It is easier said than done. But the best teams do it on a year-in, year-out basis. I can speak for only myself, but don’t you want the Bears to be one of those teams, too?

•   NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport shares news that the Colts aren’t expecting to tender a contract to restricted free agent defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth. It’s not that Indy is ruling out a return, but it doesn’t seem like the D-lineman is a top priority for the Colts. Rap expects Stallworth to get interest and land on his feet quickly once he hits free agency. To which I say … sup, Bears?

•   Stallworth, 26, made the most of a career-high 332 defensive snaps with three sacks, 12 (!) quarterback hits, and four tackles-for-loss. Considering that the Bears’ current collection of defensive line talent was built for a different scheme, maybe tapping into the Indy pipeline to bring in Stallworth makes sense. At minimum, Stallworth is a name worth keeping an eye on.

•   I wonder what blockbuster NFL trade is coming down the pipeline today:

 

•   Business will be picking up here shortly:

•   If a Watson-Saints trade goes down, the myth that the salary cap is a myth actually being the *REAL* myth will be canon. That’s how this works, right?

•   The Carushow was back in session last night:

•   If Tony La Russa can push the right buttons, the Josh Harrison signing will be a major coup for the Pale Hose:

•   An old friend finds a new home in a familiar face:

•   Last chance for romance:

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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