Last night’s Thursday Night Snoozefest brought on a bunch of post-game feelings, one of which is that the Bears simply don’t have enough around Justin Fields on offense. I mean, we knew that, but last night, watching Fields look to Ihmir Smith-Marsette twice on an uninspiring final drive was brutal.
It’s time for GM Ryan Poles to start working the phones to get Fields some help, and the wide receiver room is as good a place as any to begin.
Justin Fields Needs Some Weapons
I’ve seen way too much of Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Don’t get me wrong; I like trying to develop the back-of-the-depth-chart receivers. But I can’t justify running Smith-Marsette on a jet sweep on 2nd and 10 down points with 3:16 left in the game for a loss of one yard after tripping over Braxton Jones. Then there was the blatant drop of what would have been a near first down a couple of plays later. Throw Smith-Marsette’s bone-headed turnover that ended their final drive against the Vikings in the mix, and I’ve seen more than enough of that experiment.
Velus Jones Jr. has looked promising on his two offensive touches the past two weeks, but if he gets one-to-two touches a week, that isn’t the answer either. Now into Week 6, teams are starting to identify whether or not they’re contenders or pretenders. With the NFL trade deadline just over two weeks away, it’s time for Ryan Poles and company to begin exploring the growing list of available players.
Denzel Mims is a name we’ve discussed before, and the former second-rounder has been a healthy inactive for the Jets in all five games. One must imagine his availability is pretty high, and his price tag probably won’t be the same. Mims caught 31 passes (67 targets) for 490 yards (15.8 yards per reception) for the Jets in 2021. Nothing incredible in the stat sheet, but that 15.8 yards per reception could play elsewhere. With his market cratered and the Jets refusing to play him, the price could be right for a reclamation project.
The same goes for Terrace Marshall Jr. in Carolina or Kendrick Bourne in New England, two guys who could be had for a reasonable price. Marshall was a healthy inactive for the Panthers for two straight games before Week 5. The former USC Trojan was a second-rounder in 2021 and garnered plenty of pre-draft interest after scoring 23 touchdowns in his final 19 games at USC. With Matt Rhule fired and the Panthers heading for a full-on rebuild, Marshall seems like a perfect flip-for-pick piece for Carolina and a perfect-buy low project for a team starved of depth in the receiver’s room like the Bears.
Bourne signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Patriots before the 2021 season, and Bourne caught 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns for New England during his first year in Foxboro. But Bourne has been limited to 10 catches for 139 yards this season and he was seen having a heated exchange with Bill Belichick during Sunday’s victory over the Lions.
Luis discussed the idea of a Kendrick Bourne trade recently, and it makes all the sense in the world, even more so now.
Nelson Agholor is another name in New England to watch, although not nearly as affordable or intriguing as Bourne, he may be the one of the two that New England is more willing to move on from.
More names will pop up, but the point is that there are options, and Ryan Poles should be exploring them. I heard an intriguing argument as to why the Bears should be seriously interested in trading for D.J. Moore if he becomes available in Carolina this week.
It went something along the lines of; if you can land D.J. Moore for a second-round draft pick, then you can go into April with D.J. Moore and Darnell Mooney as the baseline in the wide receiver room, with all the cash the Bears will have to spend (north of $100 million), and their first-rounder to either invest in the line or elsewhere.
It’s a no-brainer type of acquisition. We know what D.J. Moore is right now. To me, it’s a much more comfortable idea than adding another lottery ticket project in the middle rounds at receiver or overpaying for a receiver on the open market like so many teams did last spring.
What About Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn?
Roquan Smith’s future in Chicago is as uncertain as any, and after it was made abundantly clear that the two sides aren’t close on a deal during training camp, the Bears would be silly not to shop him leading up to the deadline.
Smith is near the top of the NFL in tackles this season, and aside from getting destroyed by a Carson Wentz block last night, Smith has done well by his value this season. This means two things: 1) his asking price is going up and 2) his trade value is also.
Smith has value, and Poles needs to make something out of it. I love Roquan, but this is a rebuild from the studs up, and Poles holds no loyalty to inherited players, nor should he.
As far as Robert Quinn goes, he’s here because no one would meet Poles’ ask during the offseason. I was all good with Poles standing firm in the moment, but it’s time to pull the trigger, even if he has to come down from his original ask for the veteran pass rusher.
David Montgomery has been a nice running back since coming to town in 2019, and he’s been a solid locker room guy by all accounts as well. I’m really not itching to see Monty go anywhere, but he’s due for a payday, and if there’s someone out there willing to pony up for his services, Poles would be silly not to take the deal.
Running backs come and go in the NFL. Their shelf life is shorter than ever. That’s not to say that David Montgomery is nearing the end of his because he’s not. That’s to say, it’s not inconceivable that his value might never be higher than it is now.
With Khalil Herbert looking ready for the RB1 duties in Chicago, cashing in on David Montgomery is one of the strongest cards in Ryan Poles’ hand right now. He would be foolish to rule out playing that card if someone is willing to push enough chips into the pot.
In the End
Sitting on his hands at the trade deadline would be malpractice by the general manager. The Bears have an array of needs up and down the roster, and they have some players of interest to other teams that can help them recoup anything they spend leading up to the deadline and then some if they play their cards right.
We’ve seen six weeks of this product, and we know it’s terrible. The only correct play here is to make moves for the long-term.