A little after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the San Francisco 49ers were putting linebacker NaVorro Bowman on the trading block, the 49ers released the four-time All-Pro inside linebacker. That begs the question: Would he make sense with the Bears?
The Bears need help at inside linebacker, with Jerrell Freeman out for the year, Nick Kwiatkoski still working his way back from a chest injury and John Timu out with an ankle/knee injury he suffered Monday night against Minnesota. Bowman, too, had some of his best years playing for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with the San Francisco 49ers, with 2013 a high point (120 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles).
Bowman is a big name, but his play hasn't matched his star power recently. The 29-year-old suffered two serious injuries over the last four years: An ACL and MCL tear in the 2014 NFC Championship, and a torn Achilles’ that limited him to just four games last year. That the 49ers couldn't find a trade partner, or didn't think they would before the NFL's Oct. 31 trade deadline, speaks to how much Bowman's stock has fallen.
The money owed to Bowman may have been a deterrent in trade talks (he carries a cap hit of around $9.5 million in 2017 and a little under $12 million in 2018, according to Spotrac). If the Bears were to sign him, they wouldn't be on the hook for that much cash.
But this doens't take into account two things, the first being how much the Bears like Kwiatkoski. Coaches felt confident he could seamlessly step in for Jerrell Freeman back in September before he suffered a pec injury of his own in Week 2. The 2016 fourth-round pick was limited in practice this week, and while he’s officially listed as questionable, that he’s worked with the scout team this week wouldn’t indicate he’ll play in Baltimore on Sunday.
But it does seem that Kwiatkoski is moving closer to a return, and when he does, the need for an aging, injury-prone former Pro Bowler would diminish at that position.
Then there's point No. 2: Why would Bowman want to sign with a team that's 1-4? Even if he still has a strong relationship with Fangio, he's nearing 30 and has played in three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. It's more likely he would push for a spot on a contender to chase a ring than go to a team lagging in last place in its division.