Free Agency’s Slow Pace Fits Poles, Chef Morrow, Let Herbert Eat, and Other Bears Bullets

Chocolate chip banana bread with a coffee glaze sounds like a delightful weekend mid-morning snack. You should check out the recipe and give it a shot in the kitchen. What else do you have going on today?

•   Maybe I’ll be able to successfully make the point to myself if I keep hammering it out on my keyboard. And if it doesn’t work, I can go down knowing that at least I was trying. So, here goes nothing. Because Ryan Poles is different from Ryan Pace, and the Bears are in a different place now than where they have been in recent years with Pace trying to squeeze out what he could from whatever competitive window he had, the offseason is going to look different. Which means free agency won’t look as it did in previous years. That is probably a good thing. After all, how many times can you do the same thing, fail, and decide to keep doing that thing that keeps not working? (Please don’t answer this.)

•   Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) gives it depth in his mailbag, framing how much work the Bears still have to do this offseason:

⇒   The Bears have 55 players on their roster, while the NFLPA noting they have 53 under contract — which is the lowest number in the league.

⇒   If we’re generous and give the Bears 55 players, they still have 35 available roster spots for the offseason roster. You could sign one player at each position in a starting lineup, on both sides of the ball, and still have still have 10+ spots to fill.

⇒   Ultimately, Fishbain concludes the Bears still have 15-20 veteran players to sign before they eventually round out their 90-player roster.

•   In other words, expect more signings like Dakota Dozier, an offensive lineman who provides depth with starting experience on his résumé (best-case scenario) or is nothing more than a training camp/preseason body (worst-case scenario). Let’s keep it real. Not every player the Bears will sign is starting caliber. Even if they went hard in the draft with six picks and 15 UDFA signings, there still is a ton of heavy lifting to do. Teams gotta get to 90 somehow.

•   Bears fans aren’t the only ones playing the waiting game when it comes to free agency:

•   While I don’t think the Bears are in the market for a splash signing like Tyrann Mathieu, we do know Poles likes players who come in with a chip on their shoulder. And if the free agent market doesn’t shake out for some the way they want, re-establishing yourself on a one-year deal in Chicago wouldn’t be the worst idea a player would have.

•   Because the waiting game is a thing on multiple fronts, we’re still in that stage when it comes to restricted free agent Ryan Bates. The Bills offensive lineman signed an offer sheet to join the Bears on Thursday, which means Buffalo has until Tuesday to match. Teams tend to let this drag out, so don’t expect an immediate answer from the Bills here. However, there is a feeling that Buffalo will match. Depending on the contract structure, it might be tough for the Bills to bring Bates back. If the Bears were creative with a front-loaded deal, it might be difficult for Buffalo to match a contract that pays starter caliber money for a player who doesn’t have a starting role to fall into right away. Let’s keep tabs on this, as the Bears’ offensive line room could be getting some much-needed help.

•   I thought the phrasing from Associated Press reporter John Wawrow in his story on Bates signing the Bears’ offer sheet was interesting:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills stand to lose Ryan Bates after the offensive lineman agreed to sign an offer sheet to play for the Chicago Bears, a person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday.

•   If you’re not careful reading this, you might think that this is fait accompli and Bates will be a Bear. But not so fast, my friend. Sentence structuring matters. And the way this sentence is structured, it feels more like Wawrow is confirming only that Bates signed the offer sheet. Although, I will say it sure seems like Buffalo is bracing itself to lose Bates at the end of this process.

•   Improving the offensive line has an obvious impact on how a quarterback could perform moving forward. But let’s not forget about the running game:

•   Provided that Poles doesn’t deal David Montgomery as he enters the final year of his rookie contract like Pace did with Jordan Howard, a Herbert-Montgomery backfield tag team could be a strength of this offense. At minimum, it would keep Justin Fields from having to shoulder the load and do too much heavy lifting with a receivers room that features Darnell Mooney and two free agents on one-year “prove it” deals starting along side him.

•   Remembering the time when the new Bears QB hit up a former Bears WR for a nice pitch-and-catch in a win against Tom Brady and the Bucs:

 

•   The people need a Chef Lu/Nicholas Morrow collaboration. You know where to find me, Bears:

•   Marquez Valdes-Scantling gave a descriptive, heart-felt answer when asked about why he hyphenates his last name:

•   Watching Deshaun Watson’s first press conference with the Browns was as uncomfortable as you might expect. However, Jake Trotter brought the heat with his line of questioning:

•   For a full perspective on the afternoon, I’d nudge you toward reading Trotter’s piece at ESPN.

•   The Bulls haven’t been the same since Jackson Mahomes showed up on TikTok wearing their gear:

 

•   This is my type of weird:

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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