Bears

View From the Moon: Draft trackin...

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View From the Moon: Draft trackin...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011Posted: 12:05 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Draft trackin

The actual draft will start to play out in a little more than a week but there is still anything but a consensus on what the Bears will do with their pick at No. 29, if in fact they exercise it rather than trading down (again).

Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly predicts that teams will take a very need-based approach to the draft, which would be a bit of a departure for some organizations firmly in step with a best-player-available methodology based on belief in their draft board.

The Bears went for Florida safety Major Wright in last years draft in one of those nice meshes of best-available and need-position situations. They needed a safety and Wrights grade was a fit at their point of the third round. Chris Williams was projected to be the same at tackle in 2008; the Bears needed one and Williams was deemed worth the No. 14 slot.

Nolan projects the Bears taking defensive tackle Marvin Austin at No. 29. Austin was dropped from the North Carolina team last year for dealings with an agent and he has some maturity questions. I still have a difficult time seeing Jerry Angelo taking anything close to a character risk in the first round after his experiences with Tank Johnson and ultimately with Tommie Harris.

But Austin does fit a true need with the exit of Harris, and Angelo believes in keeping a strength strong, particularly when its the defensive line, a franchise focus with Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli.

Russ Lande over at SportingNews.com also believes the Bears will go for strength up front in the person of Oregon State strongman Stephen Paea. Russ, like Nolan, has the top five offensive linemen (tackles Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder, and guardcenter Mike Pouncey) gone by No. 26 (Baltimore), and if that scenario holds, defense may indeed trump offense, although Baylor guard Danny Watkins is hugely intriguing.

Clark Judge yields (tongue-in-cheek) to CamMania and joins the chorus seeing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton leading off the CBSSportsline.com draft by becoming a Carolina Panther. Clark takes a different tack for the Bears, however. With Watkins gone as well as the others mentioned above, Clark likes Texas cornerback Aaron Williams coming to Chicago in the race to match up against Aaron Rodgers and that passing crowd in Green Bay.

Texas gave the Bears Nathan Vasher, and Williams is a 6-foot cornerback in the tradition of Charles Tillman. Because of the value of the position and the need to get a Tillman replacement in the pipeline, this pick solidifies a spot that has bedeviled the defense since Vashers precipitous decline from his one-time Pro Bowl level.

Gaming

The NFL will announce the specific 2011 game dates and times on Tuesday. A couple of mysteries should be solved.

The opponents already are determined: Home games against Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and Seattle. Road games at Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

The last of the road games right now is scheduled to be played in Londons Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23. But that is contingent upon NFL owners and players resolving their labor issues no later than Aug. 1. If that doesnt happen, the game will revert to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium. And the Bears appearance in the Hall of Fame game will be canceled as well.

Green Bay will open at home and the Bears rate as the early favorite to be the Packers opponent as defending Super Bowl champion. Given that this was the matchup from the NFC Championship game, it conjures up distant memories of the Bears and New York Giants opening the 1987 season on a Monday night the winners of Super Bowl XX vs. the winners of XXI. won by the Bears in what would be a season losing several games to labor troubles.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

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).