I Don’t Like What the Panthers Are Doing and Other Bears Bullets
I’ll probably be filling this spot above Bullets with positive vibes inspired by the John Mayer show I’ll see next Friday. Consider this fair warning.
- If you’re the type who doesn’t take things too seriously, then Jeff Berckes (Windy City Gridiron) laying out his hatred for the Panthers is must-read stuff.
- OK, this is weird: The Carolina Panthers are apparently using their trade-up to the No. 1 pick to justify an uptick in ticket prices, writes NBC Sports Chicago’s Ryan Taylor. I’ve seen teams use all sorts of reasons to prop up why ticket prices jump (except for the actual reasons … such as supply-and-demand dynamics or to expand profit margins). But having the first pick isn’t one I can say I saw coming. Sorry, Panthers fans. But thanks for D.J. Moore!
- FWIW: I still believe the Bears-Panthers trade is something that can work out for both sides. Surely, I’m not alone in thinking this way. Especially with Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Report) has that trade being the smartest offseason move for both the Bears and Panthers.
- Elsewhere in Panthers doings, I’ve seen their offseason trend in ways I don’t like. Because in preparing to take a quarterback with the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Carolina has been loading up on interesting skill-position players. Running back Miles Sanders, receivers Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark, and tight end Hayden Hurst are joining the Panthers’ pack. This is not the Greatest Show on Turf reincarnated, but it is a group of professionals who could become a helpful supporting cast for whichever QB Carolina calls upon with the first pick.
- The Panthers actively adding pieces to their offense might throw a wrench in the Bears’ best-case scenario plan of watching that team falter with a developing QB and capitalizing on those misfortunes by using Carolina’s first-round pick in April 2024. And I don’t like it one bit. However, I’m nowhere near panic mode. After all, there is a chance that could still happen. After all, it isn’t prime Christian McCaffrey, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, or Travis Kelce going to Carolina. It’s Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, D.J. Clark, and Hayden Hurst. There is no need to approach the ledges of any tall buildings.
- Even still … the thing Carolina has going for it the most is playing in an awful AFC South. That division is so deliciously mid that a losing record could get them into the postseason. However, the non-playoff qualifiers in the NFC South had records that had those teams picking 8th (Falcons), 9th (Panthers), and 10th (Saints). So it’s not as if the sky is falling here.
- Circling back to the Bears, they made the top half of SI.com’s Connor Orr’s top-15 skill position groups. Once again, thanks for D.J. Moore! Not only do the Bears rank in the top 15, they’re a notch ahead of the Packers. More from Orr (hey, that rhymes!):
So here’s where I landed with the Bears. Moore has had some really good seasons, despite existing in a bit of a quarterback graveyard in Carolina. His ability to get open, according to FiveThirtyEight, was rated on the same level as Cooper Kupp a year ago and, over the past two years, just a hair below Justin Jefferson. Mooney, too, is great in space and should be a more heavily utilized security blanket once Justin Fields develops some more comfort in the offense and can start punishing defenses on timing routes. I also think that the Bears will be able to utilize Claypool’s linear speed more as a special-project type receiver than a legitimate No. 2, now that Moore is there to carry the burden of a defense-setter.
- I feel more comfortable with the receiving trio of Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool than I did when it was Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Byron Pringle. The Bears could still add here, but it is a group that is better today than what it was a year ago at this time.
- BJ Rudell (Pro Football Network) still sees the Bears as a potential DeAndre Hopkins landing spot. I thought the D.J. Moore trade closed that door. But I suppose Hopkins’ name will make its way onto the rumor mill until he is dealt somewhere that isn’t Chicago because there is still (1) the perception of a need at the position and (2) reasonable doubts about Mooney returning to 2021 form or Claypool bouncing back after a lost season. In the end, I still don’t see a fit. But it doesn’t mean I won’t monitor Hopkins’ situation from afar.
- I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without talking about the Bears’ offensive line needs. Fear not. Those needs still exist. And so do suitable draft options whose arrival would make me feel better about the situation:
- On the other side of the line, one of the newest Bears is already putting in work:
- Check it out! The Bulls won a game they needed to win, beating an inferior opponent while doing so. And Patrick Williams got himself a highlight:
- The Blackhawks signed prospect forward Paul Ludwinski, meaning they’ve inked both players with the picks acquired in the Alex DeBrincat trade. (BN Blackhawks)
- I’m looking forward to being at this event:
- Paige Spiranac Fantasy Golf Pool
Sign-Up to Paige's Free Augusta Golf Pool and Get a chance to Win a Round of Golf with Paige!