Bears

Salem witch trials

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Salem witch trials

The overblown witch hunt continues to grow. Many have already chimed in on the situation concerning bounties in the NFL due to the story unfolding in New Orleans. In case you have not heard, the New Orleans Saints organization could potentially be facing significant penalties for participating in a performance based bounty scheme for purposefully injuring opponents on game days.

I have played double digit years in the National Football League. My Partner today on SiriusXM NFL radio, quarterback Rich Gannon, played 17 years. Never and I repeat NEVER, has taking out a player ever been discussed by a fellow teammate or coach in our years in the NFL, let alone for a player or coach to place funds into a kitty to accomplish this goal.

It is why this is new, unprecedented, and a hot topic. This is the first I have ever heard of coaches contributing money to a kitty to take a player out. Is playing physical, hard hitting, dominating football encouraged in the NFL? Absolutely, but it is preached to play legally within the rules of the game. Its done out of respect for the game, your opponents, sportsmanship, and having a moral compass.

Since the inception of football, when has being physical, hard hitting, and playing dominating football not been a part of the game plan? Its prevalent in every one. Why this got so distorted in New Orleans is beyond the pale, unacceptable, and will be rightly punished by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on March 25th.

I personally do not thinkBounty Gate was the case in Washington where Gregg Williams served as defensive coordinator, nor during his days as the Buffalo Bills head coach. One of the main whistle blowers in Buffalo has been Coy Wire, who played under Gregg and has openly stated there was a bounty system in place.

Coy said, My sense of normalcy was warped. When Coy joined me and Jack Arute on SiriusXMs NFL Rewind Sunday night, I asked Coy, Did Gregg Williams ever request him or any other player to take a player out? The answer was No. I had to ask Coy the question three times because he dodged it the first two occasions. Coy also said Gregg never paid any cash payments.

There is a big difference between a coach preaching good hard physical football and quite another requesting a player or better yet, putting a contract or hit on a player for cash. Many players have a different portrayal of Williams while he coached for the Washington Redskins. A former teammate of mine, Phillip Daniels, who played both in Chicago with me and spent time with Gregg in Washington stated, I think its wrong the way they are trying to paint Williams. He never told us to go out there and break a guys neck or break a guys leg. It was all in the context of good hard football.

For any player to misconstrue this, needs to check their own moral compass. Hard hitting is encouraged, but far different than taking someone out. For example, if a player hits someone legally during the course of a game and this physically takes a toll on that particular player, So be it! Its called football and is a strategy in the NFL. It is conditioning, toughness, stamina and why the game is four quarters and thus the clich play for 60 minutes derives.

It is a strategy because some teams are mentally and physically tougher than others. It is just part of the game and some teams flat out submit. Physically out hitting your opponent is present in every game. Was anyone screaming bloody murder when San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner destroyed New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas in the Divisional round of the Playoffs?

It is a very good example of legal hard hitting football that stunned the Saints in the first half of that particular ball game. Where was the outrage? As you may well know, the 49ers won that game. San Francisco was prepared to play a more physical style of football than the Saints, legally.

Players are looking to play hard on every play. That is why you are a PROFESSIONAL with no added incentives. Plus, every play in the NFL is already reviewed. If there is any head hunting going on, the league can flush it out, which is what they have done.

The Saints will be made the example by Commissioner Roger Goodell and most likely, this will not be dealt with again. Does any team, organization, or fan think theyre going to win if they have a roster full of half timers? Does anyone want a team full of buxom buddies or rather a bunch of tough sons-a-guns who pack a lunch and bring a flashlight to work within the rules of the game, legally, every single play?

Its called football! Football is a violent, tough sport and its not for everybody, especially if your moral compass is not in order. Any illegal action, outside funding, third party involvement, denials, insubordination, failed cover-ups and final admissions about any Bounties has no place in the NFL or any sport for that matter.

Next Up: Kangaroo Court -- The real story of Kitties, their inception and how they came about in the NFL. Then, the NFL is not a get mad league, it is a get even league Things are settled on the field, not by any bounties.

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

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USA TODAY

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

About this time a year ago the Bears were setting up for the annual NFL beauty pageant in Indianapolis, sitting with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft and with myriad roster decisions to address with both that draft and free agency. Because of the Bears’ lofty draft position, even more scrutiny and attention swirled around the college prospects (Deshaun Watson, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, not enough on Mitch Trubisky as it turned out, a testimonial to GM Ryan Pace’s ability to keep a secret).

But what was developing in free agency was arguably of even greater significance in what was then the short term, at least for John Fox, as it turned out. And the changed landscape this year bodes considerably better for Pace and the Bears. At least in one important respect.

First, a perspective from last year’s pre-Combine period...

Because of the unsettled quarterback situation – the Bears were working toward Mike Glennon and cutting Jay Cutler two weeks later – and concerns about a possible lame-duck situation for Fox, free agents and their agents were willing to look at the Bears but only if the Bears would pony up excessive guaranteed dollars. The worry any time a coach is heading into a tipping-point year is that if things go badly, the coach and staff are gone, and the resulting changes will alter the job situation of that particular veteran player.

So the likes of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore opted for less total money from Jacksonville and New England, respectively, because the Bears weren’t offering higher guarantees to compensate for the uncertainty.

(One of the reasons then-President/CEO Michael McCaskey stated to this reporter for firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season was a concern over the negative pall Ditka cast over playing for the Bears as the NFL prepared for the 1993 start of free agency. A quarter-century later, Pace didn’t fire Fox because of free agents’ aversion to Fox, but the overall wasn’t making Pace’s job any easier.)

Would Alshon Jeffery have stayed if...

On a slightly different tack: Would Alshon Jeffery have given the Bears a more receptive look had the quarterback position been addressed sooner in the Fox/Pace tenure? Jeffery took less from the Eagles in a one-year prove-it deal, not because Philadelphia was so much warmer than Chicago, but in large part because of where the offensive arrow was pointing in Chicago with Fox, Dowell Loggains and an unsettled quarterback situation.

Not insignificantly in the Jeffery case: Jeffery had four choices – Bears, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia. The Colts weren’t sure about Andrew Luck, coming off shoulder surgery and ultimately missing all of ’17. The Vikings were resting then on brittle Sam Bradford, whose knee broke down early, and Case Keenum wasn’t CASE KEENUM at that point. The Bears with Loggains and Glennon? Jeffery didn’t go with Philadelphia, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz only for the money, which did come anyway.

The Bears have “fixed” all of those issues in the year that’s played out since Jeffery signed with the Eagles almost concurrent with the Bears moving on from Cutler. None of that matters now in the least with Jeffery, Bouye, Gilmore or any other options that demanded too much guaranteed money or spurned the Bears back then, but it does matter going into the run-up to free agency over the next couple weeks.

Why this in fact matters more than the draft is that, while sound organizations are grounded in quality drafting, the reality is that in virtually every offseason, more starters for that season are acquired via free agency than the draft. Last year’s draft centerpiece was Trubisky, though he wasn’t supposed to start last season. But free agents Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright were.

The money pit

Longtime Bears and NFL personnel chief Bill Tobin once remarked back in the beginning of free agency, “Just because you pay a guy $2 million doesn’t make him a $2-million player.” That still applies, adjusted for inflation. And that could make this free agency dicey for the Bears.

Because price isn’t always determined solely on quality; it’s a matter of supply and demand. And while the Bears are among those with the greatest estimated space under the projected cap of $178 million, the others way up on the list include Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Jets, Houston and Tampa Bay – all teams with five or fewer wins in ’17 and expected to be the most aggressive in using free agency to fix gaping holes. The Bears have a lot of money to spend, but so do a whole lot of others.

Meaning: A lot of dollars will be chasing a select few players, which will make some of them overpaid, not unlike Glennon was last offseason (how many apparently better options were there?) or a couple of others, who will be paid like $2 million players even if they aren’t, adjusted for inflation.

The result is another offseason of brinksmanship for Pace, this time in need of better results than his first three free agencies if the outcome for his second head coach is to be better than it was for his first.

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

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USA TODAY

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

The Bears are looking for an upgrade at wide receiver this offseason, and there may be one available.

The Dolphins used the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry on Tuesday, in a move that many believe signals the team's desire to deal him instead of losing him in free agency for nothing.

Landry put up excellent numbers last season, catching 112 passes for 987 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in catches and was fourth in touchdown receptions but was just 17th in yards. His yards per reception ranked 108th of 139 qualifying players.

Still, it's no secret he'd be an upgrade for the Bears at wide receiver. Though they'll get Cam Meredith and Kevin White back from injury, the corps largely struggled and didn't give rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky much help.

Luckily, they may be interested in Landry, per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

"There are a couple teams that we should keep an eye on as far as a potential Jarvis Landry landing spot......the Chicago Bears are looking for receviers," he said.

Rapoport also mentioned the Titans, Panthers and Saints as options for Landry. The franchise tag will pay Landry about $16 million before he becomes a free agent in 2019 (or has the franchise tag used on him again).