PHOENIX — Matt Nagy hinted Tuesday the Bears could have James Daniels and Cody Whitehair swap positions on the interior of their offensive line, moving Daniels to center and Whitehair to left guard.
It was a noticeable change in tone from Nagy about where both those players may best fit on the offensive line. In the days and weeks after the Bears drafted Daniels in the second round of 2018’s NFL Draft, Nagy was adamant Whitehair would stay at center despite Daniels starring at that position while in college at Iowa. Whitehair, while being a steady presence at center for the last three seasons, began his pro career as a guard before a last-minute switch to center after the Bears signed Josh Sitton a few days before the 2016 season began.
“We’re kind of in the middle of that right now looking at how they played at those particular positions — not just those two, but everybody,” Nagy said. “And so we’re going to stay open to that and if we feel like it’s going to be better to switch somebody we’ll do that, and if we don’t then we’ll stick with where we’re at.”
If the Bears do execute that switch, it would represent the only change to their starting offensive line from 2018. All five regular starters are returning this year, with Daniels and Whitehair being joined by tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie and guard Kyle Long.
Harry Hiestand’s group was one of the league’s best pass-protecting offensive lines, though the Bears frequently struggled to run the ball with any consistent success. Perhaps swapping Daniels and Whitehair could be a way to help generate improvements on the ground.
Organized Team Attendance
Nagy said the Bears expect all their players to show up for the team's offseason program, which begins April 15, and into OTAs in May. Only one player — wide receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) — who expected to participate in the voluntary shorts-and-helmets practices of OTAs.
Nagy cited that 100 percent attendance as another sign of the strong culture permeating Halas Hall.
“They’ll be there,” Nagy said. “Again, that’s who we are. I’m not worried about one guy not showing up.”
Comp Pick USA
The Bears haven’t been awarded a compensatory draft pick — given to teams who, essentially, lose more important players than they sign in free agency — since 2009, but that could change in 2020 with Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan landing sizable contracts with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, respectively.
Part of the Bears’ comp pick drought has been because of an aggressive approach to free agency. The team could’ve, perhaps, received a 2018 comp pick after losing Alshon Jeffery to free agency in 2017, but instead signed Mike Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Markus Wheaton, Dion Sims, Quintin Demps and Kendall Wright, among others.
The other issue has been, simply, the Bears haven’t had many good players recently. And when their own good players did become free agents, the team’s roster wasn’t healthy enough to let them sign elsewhere, nor was their cap maxed out to prevent them from being brought back.
That changed in 2018, and the departures of Amos and Callahan, as well as guys like Josh Bellamy, Kevin White, Eric Kush and Bryan Witzmann signing elsewhere, could help trigger an end to that comp pick drought. OverTheCap estimates the Bears could receive fourth- and fifth-round picks for Amos and Callahan, though Pace cautioned that the formula to determine the awarding of those picks is complicated and subject to change.
Still, as the Bears move forward, the top of their roster — Mitch Trubisky, Eddie Jackson, etc. — will get more expensive. And staying competitive while allocating a significant amount of cap space to a few players is massively helped by drafting well. Adding a few comp picks in the future will give the Bears more spins of the wheel as they look to add cheap, productive talent to their roster.
“We kind of knew going into free agency that was a possibility,” Pace said. “Now there’s things that take place and they’re even talking about tweaking some of the — the equation’s complicated enough. One of the things I think is those guys have to be on those teams for 10-plus games, for example, so you’re never really set until the season unfolds.
“But it’s something we’re mindful of. I think a lot of the good clubs, you see the Rams doing it, they figure out a way to take advantage of that system and for us the key is to continue to draft well and we’ll be in a position for these compensatory picks.”
While Nagy said he hasn’t made any decisions yet on the Bears’ travel plans for their game in London against the Oakland Raiders, it sounded like he’s leaning toward having his team have a shorter across the Atlantic Ocean. Nagy cited the Kansas City Chiefs’ trip to London in 2015 — when he was the team’s quarterbacks coach — for which the team left the United States for England on Thursday, held a practice Friday and played the game Sunday.
Other teams have opted to leave earlier and hold more practices in England. It’s worth noting that Doug Pederson — the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in 2015 — had the Philadelphia Eagles fly to England the Thursday before their Sunday game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in 2018.
Nagy said he wants to allow his players some time to soak in London, but that certainly won’t be the primary goal of the trip.
“It'll be 90 percent football and just a sprinkle (of other activities),” Nagy said. “We're over there on a business trip, that's why we're there. But at the same time it's great culture for the guys to see and be a part of and some guys have never been over there. That's a part of life. If you can balance it and make sure you do it the right way, I'm good with that.”
Lastly, the best thing we saw this week...
… By far was Andy Reid’s Bitmoji, which Nagy shared with a group of Chicago-based media during the league’s coaches breakfast Tuesday morning. Specifically, the Bitmojis we saw were of Reid's character in a Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt and him chowing down on a sizable stack of pancakes.
Nagy, too, has a Bitmoji, and lamented the social media platform not having a visor option to put on his avatar, which looks like this: