Tag Time, Looking Ahead to Line Movement, Under-the-Radar WR Options, and Other Bears Bullets

Fat Tuesday and Paczki Day falling on the first day of Franchise Tags can be sent out makes for a busy start of my day. Giddy up!

  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter has an early watchlist of Franchise Tag candidates:
  • PFF also has tag candidates for NFL teams that have a player the analytics giant deems worthy of one.
  • Yours truly is cooking up a list of tag situations the Bears should be watching over the next two weeks. So, with that being said, we’ll have more on the Franchise/Transition Tags later this morning. In the meantime, brush up on updated (and official) tag numbers.
  • Once the tags get sorted out, we’ll gain clarity on how the Bears can (and should) go about roster construction this offseason. No matter what happens with he tags, one area that should be a top priority is along the offensive line. Few people get the nuances of line play like Olin Kreutz, which has me bookmarking this for later listening:
  • On the other side of the line, Georgia’s Jalen Carter is at the top of our Bears offseason wishlist. And it was refreshing to read something that eases my concerns about “character issues” that randomly popped up last December. In the end, I hope the Bears do their full due diligence on Carter and every prospect they consider drafting (and signing) this offseason. I know you can’t field a team full of Boy Scouts, but good football character and being a quality teammate do matter. And I hope this front office doesn’t take that for granted.
  • Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema names Carter as an early-round fit for the Bears. But also offers up Iowa State receiver Xavier Hutchinson as a potential late-round option. And this explanation lays out why:
  • Carter is the ideal player for the Bears, as they desperately need a difference-making three-technique defensive tackle, and he’s about as dominant as they come. As for offensive weapons, there will be plenty to choose from, but the savvy and productive Hutchinson is the bet to make as a player who recorded an elite 90.8 receiving grade and more than 2,100 receiving yards over the past two seasons.

  • What happens in free agency will guide the Bears’ draft plans. But any draft that spits out a game-wrecking defensive lineman and a “save and productive” receiver would be a win to me.
  • The nerd in me found it fun to read about the Bears pass rush before and after the Robert Quinn trade. Good stuff from DBB’s Johnathan Wood, who examines the situation (which is as bad as you remember it). That Bears pass rush was rough last year. Whether it was by design for a team in the tank or other reasons is of no importance at this stage of the game. It’s water under the bridge. But this front office should be looking to remedy this line this offseason.
  • Josh Schorck (NBC Sports Chicago) hears from an NFC scout who has doubts the Bears will be able to land a king’s ransom in a trade out of the first pick. “What’s going to make the Colts sell off future draft assets if there is no one, or just the Texans, to bid against?” an NFC scout told NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m not sure any of the quarterbacks in this class will generate a (Jared Goff) offer.”
  • I suppose that is a noteworthy thing to takeaway from any and all trade discussions. There needs to be a market of teams to create a proper bidding war. And there needs to be a quarterback that teams are willing to move up to take. However, I feel as if the Texans are all the Bears need to drive up the price on the Colts. It’s as simple as “do you want to face the best QB prospect of this class twice a year for the next 10 years or do you want to win?”
  • Old friend JJ Stankevitz rounds up some mock drafts from a Colts perspective over at the team’s official site. And, yes, there are a handful of trade-up scenarios that find their way into the post.
  • Swinging back to free agency, retired receiver Greg Jennings (who was a nuisance while he was with he Packers and Vikings) has some names who could be helpful for a team looking to bolster its room of wide receivers:
  • Ya know, I feel as if a team like the Bears should see the video above and take notes.
  • It might need some massaging, but my ideal offseason for the Bears includes building a receivers room that is (1) better than last year’s, (2) ranks among the top half of the league, and (3) allows for some wiggle room to trade for Tee Higgins this summer if push comes to shove and the Bengals can’t sign him to an extension. It’s not as if we haven’t experienced something similar before. Remember when the Bears built a top-10 defense going into 2018 but still were missing the tail-kicking pass-rusher, only to swing a late-summer trade for Khalil Mack? That was a fun time to be a Bears fan.
  • Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger opines that trade compensation for a Higgins trade could be a 2023 first-rounder and 2024 first-rounder. That feels about right to me. Even if Higgins’ predicted destination (Detroit) feels very, very wrong. Maybe the Bears can trade out of the first pick and acquire draft capital which makes it an option for the team to jump the market and cut a deal on draft weekend. Or perhaps they could entice the Bengals to take on a first-rounder in 2024 instead. Again, we’ll continue watching Higgins’ situation with great interest. And with good reason.
  • Our friends at BN NFL have offseason previews for the Bears, Bengals, Browns, and Lions. Read up! And more are coming.
  • One of the NBA’s biggest pests is coming home to Chicago to shake things up:
  • Oh, heck yeah! I am ready for this:
  • Hmmm … what an interesting parallel to draw:
  • 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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