It looks like we’re on the verge of an awesome sports week. The men’s basketball national title game tonight features a pair of blue bloods, neither of which are led by Coach K. Wrigley Field opens its doors on Thursday as MLB Opening Day is (finally) coming. Golfers hit the links for The Masters in Augusta later this week, too. The NBA wraps up its regular season this coming weekend. Just a bunch of fun stuff set to happen. Weather permitting, of course.
• The first phase of the NFL’s offseason workout programs can begin as early as TODAY (for teams with new head coaches). Hey, now! The Chicago Bears are a team with a new head coach. Hence, business is picking up today at Halas Hall. It isn’t much, but it isn’t nothing. The Dolphins, Giants, and Saints are also joining the Bears in jump-starting their offseason programs on Monday. The six other teams with new head coaches will do so at later dates. Slackers!
• You’re probably curious to what the offseason workout program entails. Fair enough. In short, its opening stages consist of team meetings, conditioning, and rehabilitation for injured players. Mind you, none of this is mandatory. This is strictly a voluntary ordeal. So don’t expect full attendance and do not be surprised if certain players don’t show up. Then again, the Bears have the fewest rostered players in the NFL as of this time. Things were going to be light around Halas Hall anyway, but it will still be interesting to see who shows up for the first day of Matt Eberflus’ regime. For more, you can read about the NFL’s offseason training and workout rules here via the NFLPA.
• Maybe it’s the Bears’ need to upgrade at receiver that is pulling me in this direction, but this feels similar to how the Allen Robinson contract saga began:
What's happening with Terry McLaurin's extension? Sources on the negotiations, wild WR market impact, other teams looking to pounce, potential roster fallout.
“Guys are getting paid more than you might have thought.”
(Web offer: $1 month/6 months…)https://t.co/87YqqwfcpJ
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 4, 2022
• In case you’re curious, Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera told reporters the team has no intentions to entertain trade offers for Terry McLaurin. Darn.
• But after seeing Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams use trades to leverage big money extensions, the idea of swinging a deal for McLaurin is drawing interest from teams around the league. Unfortunately, while Ben Standig reports that teams have kicked the tires on a deal, he also notes how teams don’t see McLaurin hitting the trade block despite the future contractual mess on the horizon. McLaurin is eligible for an extension now and is set to hit free agency next offseason. But with Franchise Tags in their pockets, the Washington football organization is in the driver’s seat. Well, for now at least.
• As we saw with Davante Adams’ insistence that he wouldn’t play on a tag, things can change. And in a hurry, too. In other words, we have reasons to monitor this situation from the outside until more clarity comes about.
• Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway cites on-air reporting from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who says the Houston Texans have received “multiple calls” from teams inquiring about a possible trade for Brandin Cooks. Ah, yes! Another day, another receiver possibly hitting the market. Cooks, who is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons in Houston, is in the final year of a contract re-negotiation and the Texans look to be going nowhere fast. It would make sense for the Texans to move on from Cooks in an attempt to aid their rebuild, but perhaps Houston thinks it is more logical to keep Cooks around to help Davis Mills’ development.
• Wouldn’t it be nice if the Bears had a receiver like Cooks? C’mon, now. I know you’re thinking it because I am thinking it. Cooks, who will play in his age 29 season in 2022, comes with a $16,205,882 cap number. That is a hearty chunk of change for any team wanting in on a deal. But the Bears do have ample cap space, sitting with more than $16 million under the cap. However, that contract isn’t prohibitive for a Texans team more than $22.1 million under the cap at this moment.
• While the Bears don’t appear to be in the market for a McLaurin or Cooks trade, GM Ryan Poles made it known that he realizes Chicago’s football team needs help at the receiver position. However, Poles made it clear he won’t force the issue just because it is a glaring need. I admire Poles’ patience and ability to see the forest through the trees. But it sure would be nice to have some more certainty in that area.
• Of course, the Bears aren’t the only receiver-needy team in the league. As PFT’s Mike Florio points out, the Packers have receiver needs of their own. Frankly, if Aaron Rodgers was the otherworldly figure he makes himself out to be, then he can go full Nelson Muntz and throw touchdowns to himself.
• This stat reminds me of how inefficient the Bears were in deploying the running game over the last three years:
Highest forced-missed tackle rate by a Bears rookie RB since 2006:
1. David Montgomery (2019) – 0.19
2. Khalil Herbert (2021) – 0.17 pic.twitter.com/8COMz0ya1k
— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) April 2, 2022
• Additionally, I t reminds me of how good the prior regime was at targeting and landing tackle-breakers in the open field. David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Darnell Mooney, and even Justin Fields come to mind when thinking about elusive ball carriers. With a bunch of holdovers from scouting hanging in through the NFL Draft, I wonder if we’ll continue to see players who grade out highly in that area continue to be prioritized even with a new GM.
• Do the thing, Bulls:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 4, 2022
• As the Blackhawks transition to a new era, they’ll be led by a new voice:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) April 4, 2022