Bears

Bears pass on Trubisky in ESPN's 2017 NFL re-draft

Bears pass on Trubisky in ESPN's 2017 NFL re-draft

It was the trade that sent shockwaves through the 2017 NFL draft. You remember the one: Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace jumped one spot from third pick to No. 2 overall to make sure he landed his guy, QB Mitchell Trubisky.

Pace was blasted for the trade. He became the butt of all post-draft jokes. According to media members and fans, the San Francisco 49ers fleeced the Bears.

Now five games into the third season since the trade, the returns are somewhat incomplete. Trubisky's growth and development under Matt Nagy in 2018 has hit a wall early in 2019; maybe it's more accurate to say Trubisky's been hit by a wall of defenders because of how poorly the offensive line has played. And in a results-oriented league, the narrative around the Trubisky pick is beginning to tilt toward the negative.

Take ESPN's recent 2017 re-draft, for example. In this do-over, the Bears keep the No. 3 pick after QBs Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson go first and second overall. Chicago, with the third pick, snub Trubisky and instead select DE Myles Garrett.

Taking Garrett here would have left the Bears without a quarterback for 2017, as they had moved on from Jay Cutler. But it's fair to ask whether the circumstances are any different with Trubisky on the roster. Garrett's arrival would have made the Bears less likely to trade for Mack, too, which would have left them better equipped moving forward to draft a quarterback in 2018 or even 2019 if needed.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to argue with this approach. But if the Bears ended up with Garrett from the 2017 draft, they never would've traded for Khalil Mack. And if they hadn't acquired Mack, would their defense be as dominant even with Garrett rushing the passer? Maybe. But Mack is a generational talent. Garrett, while certainly an elite pass-rusher, needs to add a little more to his resume before he can be described the same way.

It's also really easy to pile on Trubisky right now. He'll forever be compared to Mahomes and Watson, which is inherently unfair considering Mahomes had the luxury of learning behind Alex Smith while under the tutelage of Andy Reid and Matt Nagy during his rookie season. He also didn't have to suffer through a season with Kendall Wright as his go-to-guy. Watson, like Mahomes, has been gifted an all-world talent at wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller, when healthy, is no slouch.

Elite offensive coaches and top-tier talent at the skill positions will accelerate a quarterback's learning curve. Trubisky didn't have either of those assets in Year 1. As a result, he's at least a full season behind his classmates in his overall development.

It would be a lot fairer to Trubisky to run an exercise like this next year this time, when there will be no more excuses for the player Pace staked his reputation on.

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Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

The Chicago Bears have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2019 after falling to 4-6 following Sunday night's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, it's time to start looking ahead to 2020 and the necessary moves GM Ryan Pace must make in order to take advantage of the Bears' already championship-worthy defense.

Pace will face some obvious challenges in the offseason, most notably the salary cap where the Bears won't have much flexibility. According to Spotrac, Chicago will be in the bottom-five teams in the league in cap space which will make shopping in free agency a limited endeavor. 

But as we've seen many times in the NFL, creative general managers can move money around in ways to free up the dollars for new contracts to make sense, and it's on Pace to make sure he does that in order to land at least two big-ticket free agents to fix two of this team's most pressing needs.

The NFL draft will also provide Pace with a great opportunity to add young, starting-quality talent in the second round. The Bears will end up with two of this year's top-60(ish) players and they have to make those picks count.

Here are four players Pace should target in order to turn the 2020 Bears into the contender they were supposed to be this season.

Sign QB Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)

Bridgewater would be the perfect target for Pace and the Bears in free agency to bring stability and reliability to the quarterback position. The former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has resurrected his career after a devastating knee injury in 2016. Now three seasons removed, Bridgewater proved he's ready to take on a starting job after playing five games in relief of Drew Brees after the future Hall-of-Famer suffered a hand injury.

Bridgewater won all five starts and completed nearly 68 percent of his passes along the way. He racked up 281 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Bears and displayed the kind of accuracy and decision-making that Matt Nagy's offense calls for.

The Bears won't be the only suitors for Bridgewater's services, but the appeal of starting in Chicago with a defense that's proven it can win games on its own will at least be enticing for the former Lousiville star.

Sign TE Austin Hooper (Falcons)

Hooper will command a contract similar to what Chicago paid Trey Burton in 2018 (four years, $32 million), so it will be hard to justify tying up that much money in the tight end position. But as 2019 has proven, there's no way for Nagy's offense to reach its potential without a weapon at tight end in the passing game.

Hooper missed Week 11 with an MCL injury and could be on the shelf for a few more weeks, but he's been one of the league's better playmakers at tight end this season. He has 56 catches for 608 yards and six touchdowns and has shown steady improvement over each year of his career. He had 71 catches for 660 yards and four scores in 2018.

Draft OT Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) in 2nd round

It'll take a little bit of luck for 'Prince' to fall to the Bears' first of two second-round picks, which right now sits at No. 46 overall. But the Bears have to be aggressive in upgrading the offensive line this offseason. While Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie are serviceable offensive tackles, a player like Tega Wanogho has the kind of traits that could eventually develop into a top-tier starter on either side of the offensive line.

The Bears could decide to prioritize the interior of the offensive line in the draft, and that's fine. But the best (and cheapest) way to land a high-end offensive tackle is through the draft, and Pace has to swing for the fences on a pick like this in 2020.

Draft EDGE Yetur Gross Matos (Penn State) in 2nd round

Pass rushers like Gross Matos are often pushed up the draft board because of the premium placed on the position, but with several teams expected to take a quarterback in the first round and with the number of ridiculously talented wide receivers in the 2020 class, a player like Gross Matos could suffer a bit of a fall.

Gross Matos has six sacks so far this season, which is a respectable total but has fallen a tad short of expectations entering the year. He had eight sacks in 2018 and was a popular pick to explode as a sack artist this fall. Still, he has the athletic profile Pace loves in his pass rushers and would be an instant upgrade over Leonard Floyd, who's failed to live up to his first-round billing since joining the Bears in 2016.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

Hub Arkush, JJ Stankevitz, and Ben Finfer join the birthday boy on today's show.

0:00 - Sunday's debacle in L.A. continues to dominate headlines. So what happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward? Is Matt Nagy's offense fixable? And how did a team that was one of the favorites for the Super Bowl fall apart this quickly?

16:00 - Jeremy Roenick joins Kap to talk about Kirby Dach's hot streak and if the Jeremy Colliton saved his job by making one tweak to his scheme.

24:00 - Dave Wannstedt joins Kap to discuss the fallout from Sunday's Bears loss to the Rams. How would Wanny handle Eddy Pineiro's confidence? Plus he talks about how to keep a team motivated with the playoff hopes essentially gone.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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