Woke up to news about Bilal Nichols living my dream — leaving Chicago for Las Vegas at the start of March Madness. Nichols, a 2018 fifth-round pick, is reportedly signing with the Raiders. Hang a star on that one, Ryan Pace. Because any time one of your draft picks can get a second contract that is a multi-year deal, you did something right in the development process.
With that being said, I’m not going to Vegas. Not today. And not for March Madness. Well, at least not this year.
• The NFLs new league year opens TODAY at 3 p.m. CT. That means no more “legal tampering” period. For us, that means no more typing out the words “legal tampering” — which is cool by me because I’m not into typing out oxymorons (save for this very specific time of year). But more important than that is that the league year opening will result in deals becoming officially official around the league. The Bears were active with a splash target (DT Larry Ogunjobi) on Monday, but their follow up secondary wave/tier options have my attention. And I imagine others will follow.
• For instance, LB Nicholas Morrow and C/G Lucas Patrick. Morrow is a linebacker who didn’t play at all in 2021 due to a foot injury, but was looking good last time he was on the field. Patrick is a former Packers lineman who was a primary starter each of the last two seasons. Courtney Cronin (ESPN) reports Morrow’s deal is a one-year agreement worth up to $5 million. Meanwhile, Patrick’s pact is a two-year tour-of-duty that boils down to a deal that has just one year guaranteed at $4 million (per PFF’s Brad Spielberger).
• Without getting into the nitty gritty, these are the types of players I thought new GM Ryan Poles would be targeting. Whether you want to call it the second tier or second wave is irrelevant. Both are in that large swath of free agents in the middle grouping. In any case, both players check multiple boxes when it comes to Poles’ type. For example, Morrow is a younger player (26) who has some starting experience, but still has room to grow. Morrow ample motivation to on a one-year deal to glow up after missing the 2021 season with an injury.
— Raiders Report Mitchell Renz (@MitchellRenz365) October 6, 2019
• I knew that Morrow name was sounding familiar.
• As for Patrick, he has some familiarity with new Bears OC Luke Getsy from their time in Green Bay. But the draw here is Patrick’s versatility. Having experience at guard and center gives the Bears three linemen with positional versatility. Larry Borom (RT/LT) and Cody Whitehair (LG/C/RG) also have that in their back pockets.
• As for other offensive line pursuits, one deal could be hinging on Deshaun Watson’s decision. Left tackle Terron Armstead appears to be waiting out the Watson market to choose a landing spot. Armstead is a potential Bears target, and could be an expensive one at that. But good left tackles don’t make the market often. So even while Armstead’s injury history pushes the caution flag to go up, teams are likely willing to allow Armstead some leeway to delay making his call.
• This is a fun fact:
Here's a fun fact: Lucas Patrick has returned 2 kicks in his career (guessing squib) and is averaging 11.5 yards per return.#TheMoreYouKnow
— Bear Report (@BearReport) March 16, 2022
• Good timing to note that, too. Jakeem Grant Sr., the Bears’ Pro Bowl return ace, is signing with the Browns. There goes Amari Cooper’s target share.
• I’m starting to think the Bears won’t be getting a comp pick (again). On the one hand, that stinks. The Bears need more draft picks, not fewer. Additionally, a part of me isn’t happy about it:
Moreover, only the Jags (19), Texans (18), Washington Football Organization (17), Jets (14), Browns (13), and Saints (13) have gotten fewer than the 20 compensatory draft picks the Bears have gotten since 1994.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 15, 2022
• But on the other hand, if I allow myself to be creatively optimistic (or is it optimistically creative?) and consider that some of these one-year deal signings can position themselves to be signed next offseason — and thus, allowing the Bears to maybe clean up with compensatory picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. If you’re in a baseball frame of mind, think of it as an offseason signing who is flipped at the deadline for prospects.
• Bring it on:
9 teams have not yet agreed to a deal with an outside free agent so far: Cardinals, Commanders, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers, Patriots, Rams, Saints, Seahawks.
Their focus has been on in-house retention up to this point.
Plenty of value will be available in Wave 2.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 15, 2022
• I think another old friend will find a new home today:
• And it sure sounds like Baker Mayfield is preparing to shoot those insurance bundle commercials at a different stadium locale:
With many uncertainties, here is where my head and heart is. pic.twitter.com/psipN96cmh
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) March 16, 2022
• The transaction period is getting BUSY around town:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) March 15, 2022
• I SAID — The transaction period is getting BUSY around town:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 16, 2022
• Gonna need the Cubs to blast through the finish line to make it officially official.
• Meanwhile, the bucket-getters are getting buckets:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) March 16, 2022