Watson Saga is a Hold-up, Mooney and Fields Cooking, Poles' Pace Problem, and Other Bears Bullets

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Watson Saga is a Hold-up, Mooney and Fields Cooking, Poles’ Pace Problem, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Losing punter Pat O’Donnell in free agency (to the Packers, of all teams!) on St. Patrick’s Day feels so wrong. Then again, the Bears poached Lucas Patrick for their offensive line earlier in free agency. So an eye-for-an-eye and a Pat for a Pat(rick) is the latest nugget in the longstanding Bears-Packers bout.

•   Who needs coffee when you’re powered by the dreams of Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney hooking up for big plays all over the field:

•   You’ve gotta love seeing those two work together. There is clearly some chemistry there between the two. Now, get them some help!

•   Ugh. We’re still at a standstill around the league because of the Deshaun Watson situation. Receivers who might want to catch passes from Watson and offensive linemen who have eyes to block for him are obviously impacted. But those players’ decisions will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the market. And considering the Bears’ needs at both positions, we’re once again obsessively watching Watson’s status.

•   Perhaps we will get clarity here soon:

•   It isn’t as if players aren’t signing. Heck, players I thought could be conceivable Bears targets are signing elsewhere. For example, tight end O.J. Howard and the Bills came to an agreement on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million (Schefter). Howard seems like a luxury item for a loaded Bills offense, but you can’t have too much firepower when dealing in the AFC. As for Howard’s deal, it could balloon to $5 million if incentive marks are hit. That could be a nice deal for the Bills, as it is low risk in terms of cap number and high reward in terms of unleashing Howard’s potential. No, Howard hasn’t been able to live up to the lofty expectations that came with him coming out of Alabama. But the upside is tantalizing. With the Bears rostering only Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted, it would be nice to see the Bears find a value add at tight end. You know … someone like Howard (but obviously, not Howard).

•   Looking at the Bears’ needs, I’m starting to think they won’t be in the mix for a compensatory pick in 2023. Simply put, it appears as if they’ll need to sign more free agents than they watch walk away in order to round out this roster. Let’s face it. Once you conclude that you’re not in a position to net compensatory picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the best way to move forward is by positioning yourself to get them in 2024. In order to that, the Bears would need to (1) make some thrifty one-year signings this offseason, (2) hope enough of those players turn in stellar seasons, and (3) hope enough get signed away as you play the mix-and-match comp pick formula the following offseason. But because so many of these picks come as a result of players you draft getting squeezed out and poached, the Bears better start drafting better before they can start truly dreaming about gaming the compensatory draft pick formula.

•   Speaking of gaming the system, it appears Ryan Pace’s favorite game has caught up to the Bears. Brad Zimmerman notes that no team in league history has had a winning record with more than $40 million in dead cap money. In other words, this is not a statistic you want the Bears to be leading in. Unfortunately …

•   Yeah, I know … Ryan Poles was the one who sent Khalil Mack to the Chargers. But it was the series of moves kicking the can down the line and borrowing from the future that are ultimately coming to roost. Everyone, at some point, has a friend whose messes they clean up at the end of the night. Think back to that friend who was showing you a good time, running up a big tab (so many shots!), but leaves you to foot the bill at the end of the night. Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us. But in the Bears’ world, that dichotomy exists. Pace is Mr. Good Time Pal and Poles is the responsible friend deep sighing between cleaning intervals.

•   The Sun-Times (Mark Potash) and Tribune (Colleen Kane) share commentary from Khalil Mack, whose comments reflecting on his time in Chicago had me in my feelings. And judging by your replies on Twitter and Facebook, I wasn’t alone. Watching good players leave stinks. Yes, there is value in the Bears gaining cap space and draft capital. It still doesn’t make it any easier when your favorite players are sent packing. Especially while, simultaneously, teams like the Packers and Saints continue to make a mockery of the cap.

•   Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox updates the free agency big board, sharing a list of the 35 best players who are still available.

•   There are persons of interest here:

•   I don’t imagine losing your job to Joe Buck is an easy pill to swallow. But Steve Levy takes it in stride:

•   One of the most important players in Cubs franchise history takes his talents to Denver …

•   … but I’m looking forward to embracing the next big thing:

•   The Bulls are going through a rough patch, but there is some good news:

•   The rumor mill on the Chicago sports scene has got some movement:



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.