Sources: Bears, Dolphins have discussed Jarvis Landry-for-Jordan Howard swap


Sources: Bears, Dolphins have discussed Jarvis Landry-for-Jordan Howard swap

INDIANAPOLIS – New coach Matt Nagy liked the enthusiasm, if not the timing, of Jordan Howard’s recent “prediction” of playoffs for the Bears this season. But whether Nagy likes Howard enough as the centerpiece running back in his still-forming Bears offense is somewhat less certain.

Whispers are that the Bears and Miami Dolphins have had conversations about the Dolphins sending wide receiver Jarvis Landry and a third-round pick to the Bears in exchange for Howard and a swap of the Dolphins pick at No. 11 overall for the Bears’ at No. 8.

Landry carries Miami’s franchise tag but coach Adam Gase was less than adamant about Landry continuing as a Dolphin at all cost despite 400 catches and not missing a single game over Landry’s first four NFL seasons.

“Yeah, if it works out the way that we’ve kind of looked at things,” Gase said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Really, that’s why we franchised him. We’ll just kind of see how it goes.”

Howard was the Bears’ chief offensive threat over the past two seasons, becoming the first running back in franchise history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of this first two seasons.

But sources said that the Nagy offensive staff has concerns about Howard’s shortcomings as a receiver and which pose a significant issue for a scheme with a West Coast foundation. The Nagy offense presupposes backs with excellent receiving skills, which Kansas City Chiefs backs typically had during Nagy’s tenure on Andy Reid’s staff and which Howard has not demonstrated in his two Bears seasons.

If Howard is not viewed as the long-term fit at running back, the time for GM Ryan Pace to make a move points to sooner rather than later.

Nagy was generally complimentary of Howard’s play, with a possible qualifier that the staff will be looking at how Howard’s “unique” style fits into the emerging Bears offense. “It's interesting, because you watch him on tape and you see his style of play and it's unique, but it's a good unique,” Nagy said. “He's a tough runner and has a style where he's able to be elusive for his size, but yet he can still make that first-down run on fourth-and-1 or short yardage.

“It's intriguing for us as a staff when we watch tape to see him, to be able to see how we can fit his style of play into our offense. It feels right.”

Howard as receiver, however, has been problematic, in view of his 5 drops among 32 targets last season, with only 23 total receptions. Howard averaged just 5.4 yards per reception last season, with a long of only 12 yards.

By contrast, Kansas City’s lead backs were notably more productive:

2017: Kareem Hunt, 53, rec., 8.6 ypc, long of 78 yards

2016: Spencer Ware, 33 rec., 13.5 ypc, long of 46 yards

2015: Charcandrick West, 20, rec., 10.7 ypc, long of 80 yards ; Jamaal Charles, 21 rec., 8.4 ypc, long of 26

The Bears are in a decidedly makeover mode, and whether Howard indeed fits the offense envisioned by Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich remains to play out – just as with Landry and the Dolphins.

After releasing him, Bears reportedly bringing back Marcus Cooper


After releasing him, Bears reportedly bringing back Marcus Cooper

Marcus Cooper's offseason has resembled a will they, won't they relationship.

The corner back signed a three-year deal with the Bears last offseason, but struggled last year and was released by the Bears after one year of that deal. However, Adam Caplan is reporting that Cooper could be back in a Bears uniform this season.

Cooper was officially released by the Bears on March 14 and visited the Arizona Cardinals earlier on Friday. Cooper started for the Cardinals in 2016.

Cooper began the year as a starter for the Bears, but finished with just four starts. He finished 2017 with 18 tackles and three passes deflected in 15 games.

His play with the Bears didn't exactly make him Mr. Popular with fans, as can be observed by looking at the savage replies to Caplan's report.

Cooper's original contract for the Bears with valued at $16 million over three years so the reported $2.5 million number is a significant pay cut and could mean he is being brought back for depth as opposed to last year when he was expected to start.

Plenty of possibilities loom ahead of Bears' draft pick

Plenty of possibilities loom ahead of Bears' draft pick

As the Bears begin to fill out their draft board in earnest, they’ll do so by evaluating the players they like and the players they think will be available when they pick eighth in April. And what players check both those boxes and go into their draft “clouds,” as Ryan Pace calls them, will depend largely on how many quarterbacks are taken ahead of the Bears’ pick. 

With about a month until the draft, it seems clear two teams will take a quarterback with a top-seven pick: the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. The Browns own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks; the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3, and teams rarely invest that kind of draft capital to not draft a quarterback. 

That leaves a few hinge points in how many quarterbacks are picked by the time the Bears are on the clock:

New York Giants (No. 2 overall)

The Giants still have an aging Eli Manning but could move to use the second pick to draft his long-term replacement. Or, alternatively, they could use this deep class of top-end quarterbacks as an avenue to trade down, add some picks and build out a young core that way. Either of these scenarios would be good news for the Bears, as we’ve seen Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson connected to the Giants at No. 2 as well, if they were to stay there. The Buffalo Bills could be motivated to trade up to No. 2 to make sure they get the guy they want with quarterbacks almost assuredly going off the board at Nos. 1 and 3. 

Cleveland Browns (No. 4 overall)

If the Browns get their quarterback with the first pick — Sam Darnold? — they could be sitting in an ideal spot at No. 4. If the Giants draft a quarterback, Cleveland could play hardball and tell teams they’re fine keeping the fourth pick and drafting Barkley with it. That could create a bidding war between the Buffalo Bills (No. 12) and Denver Broncos (No. 5) to trade up and draft the last of the four clear-cut top quarterbacks in this class. In this scenario, Cleveland adds a bunch of picks to an already-sizable stash and accelerates their growth through the draft. 

If the Giants were to trade out of the No. 2 pick, let’s say to the Bills, it may lessen Cleveland’s desire to trade down from No. 4 unless a team in need of a quarterback like the Arizona Cardinals (No. 15) or Miami Dolphins (No. 11) starts lurking around. But as we saw last year with the Bears trading up one spot to draft Mitch Trubisky, teams don’t want to leave things to chance if they have conviction on the quarterback they want. So that brings us to the…

Denver Broncos (No. 5 overall)

The Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year deal and still have 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch on their roster, though he hasn’t shown much in only five games as a pro. Does Denver absolutely, positively have to draft a quarterback? No. They’re probably in the same boat as the Giants in that regard. But what if they really like Josh Allen and/or Baker Mayfield, both of whom their coaching staff worked with at the Senior Bowl, and one of them is still on the board when the Browns’ pick comes up at No. 4? Or what if Josh Rosen has been their guy all along? 

In that case, John Elway may make an aggressive move to guarantee he gets the quarterback he wants, and not risk losing that guy if a team were to cut the line by trading with the Browns. 

The other scenario is less positive for the Bears: Maybe the Broncos only have one or two quarterbacks out of this group they want, and they either can’t find a trade partner to move out of No. 5 or don’t want to. If three quarterbacks are drafted in the first seven picks, the Bears may not have the opportunity to draft one of Nelson, Chubb or Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, for example, is a super-talented prospect — but we seem to be moving toward a consensus that Nelson, Fitzpatrick, Chubb and Barkley are the four best non-quarterback prospects in this draft. And in all likelihood, the Bears will only be able to draft one of them four quarterbacks are taken before they pick. 

The wild card here is Nelson, given his position (guard) is rarely seen as worthy of being a top-10 pick. But those who saw him up close in college believe he’s a future perennial Pro Bowler, possibly beginning as soon as his rookie year. The Bears’ fit is obvious, with Harry Hiestand coming to coach the offensive line from Notre Dame and the team — as of right now — still having a fairly clear need for another interior offensive lineman. Perhaps Nelson falls to the Bears even if there are only three quarterbacks off the board before they pick, but having four go off the board would make things a little less stressful at Halas Hall in late April. 

Indianapolis Colts (No. 6 overall) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 7 overall)

The Colts already traded down once, and likely did so with the confidence that Chubb would still be on the board at No. 6 to help their limp pass rush. Fitzpatrick seems to be a good fit with Tampa Bay, though a player of his caliber would be a good fit anywhere. Either of these teams still could be persuaded to trade down, especially if the Giants and/or Broncos pass on a quarterback.

Chicago Bears (No. 8 overall)

If four quarterbacks are off the board by the time the Bears pick, that’s ideal for Pace. If three are, he still could get someone from his No. 8 pick “cloud” and be content staying there. If only two are — and this doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario — that means the Bills haven’t found a trade partner and may want to leapfrog the Dolphins at No. 11 to get their guy. More likely, if the Bears are able to trade down from No. 8, it would be because a team like Arizona wants to make sure the quarterback they want isn’t snagged by an opportunistic team ahead of them. 

But Pace's draft history has seen him trade up far more frequently than trade down. If someone who's in his draft cloud is available when the Bears go on the clock, chances are he'll pick that guy and not trade down. 

Plenty can and will change between now and when the draft begins on April 26. But for right now, the landscape ahead of the Bears suggests only positive things setting up for their first-round pick.