Bears

The Bears didn't make a move at the trade deadline, but they did make a statement

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USA TODAY

The Bears didn't make a move at the trade deadline, but they did make a statement

The NFL trading deadline came and went on Tuesday with a flurry of significant activity. Not all of it squared with apparent in-season situations, however, while the Bears were making a quiet statement or two of their own along the extended trading way.

Surveying what did and didn’t go down around the NFL and what some of it suggests.

Earlier this year the Bears took the temperature of the situation with the New England Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo. They weren’t interested in the Patriots’ price (a first-round pick and more) for the backup quarterback and sat out the final notes of that dance as Garoppolo went to San Francisco on Tuesday for a second-round pick. (The Bears also had made inquiries about Kirk Cousins, just to put this sort of thing in context. Due diligence means at least asking.)

Teams reportedly had interest on Tuesday in trading for Josh Sitton. The Pro Bowl guard remains a Bear, though, with the organization clearly not inclined to weaken the already injury-laced palace guard for quarterback Mitch Trubisky – the biggest reason why GM Ryan Pace didn’t gut his draft arsenal to bring in Garoppolo.

What the Bears did do, however, was trade for depth at wide receiver last week, giving up a conditional late-round pick for Dontrelle Inman. Not the marquee addition that standout Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin was for the Buffalo Bills, who gave up a No. 3 and No. 7 in the 2018 draft for a de facto No. 1 receiver.

The Bears at 3-5 project to have a higher draft slot in 2018 than the Bills, who stand 5-2 and are ramping up for a run at the Patriots this year, not next. So why didn’t the Bears make that same offer to Buffalo?

Probably a handful of reasons. For one, Benjamin is due nearly $8.5 million in 2018, the final year of his rookie deal, after which he will be up for a major long-term one. For another, the Bears privately expect to have Cam Meredith and Kevin White back from injuries in 2018, however problematic that hope might be, and had already mentioned an extension for Meredith, a restricted free agent after this season. For a third, Pace already has traded for Inman, invested in Markus Wheaton, faces a decision on Kendall Wright and is expected to draft a receiver next April.

The Seattle Seahawks enhanced Russell Wilson’s protective shield with a deal for Houston left tackle Duane Brown, giving the Texans two draft choices. Those picks were a No. 3 next year and a No. 2 in 2019. Again, the same draft offer from the Bears could have been more enticing, given that the Seahawks project to be picking later than the Bears at this point. But the Bears extended left tackle Charles Leno, who is at left because he didn’t work at right at all when the Bears tried him there. And Brown is 32, due $9.75 million in 2018 and held out for a new contract this year.

Perhaps most notable was any Sitton deal that didn’t happen. The Bears may be rebuilding (EVERY team is rebuilding every year; the only questions are how extensively and what areas), but they were not dumping veterans just to clear cap space or acquire draft picks.

A win-now mindset may be a stretch. But if the Bears undertook the organizational-quitting that multiple MLB teams do every year when the World Series is deemed beyond them, John Fox might as well pack now. And siphoning off any of what talent there is around Trubisky only puts the franchise quarterback at increased physical risk.

The Bears didn’t do that.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: