Bears

Former Rolling Meadows High School quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agrees to record NFL contract

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USA TODAY

Former Rolling Meadows High School quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agrees to record NFL contract

Jimmy Garoppolo entered the 2017 NFL season as a backup quarterback to arguably the best player of all-time at his position, Tom Brady. Entering the 2018 season, Garoppolo, an Arlington Heights native and Rolling Meadows High School alumnus, will be making more money on an average-per-year basis than Brady or any other player in NFL history.

Thursday, Garoppolo and the 49ers reportedly agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million contract that will pay the 26-year-old quarterback an average of $27.5 million per season. 

The 49ers acquired Garoppolo for just a second-round draft pick at the end of October. The move was a surprise to many, considering that the Patriots showed little interest in trading Garoppolo last offseason despite being able to land a first round pick in return.

Garoppolo played in six games for the 49ers in 2017, completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns. Garoppolo started the 49ers' final five games, leading San Francisco to a perfect 5-0 record that includes a win over the Bears at Soldier Field.

Garoppolo's rise is remarkable considering where his football career truly started. Coming out of high school, he received few offers to play quarterback at the Division-1 level before ultimately landing at Eastern Illinois University.

Garoppolo has limited experience in the NFL, which makes him receiving such a large contract even more remarkable. In four NFL seasons, he has played in just 23 games with the Patriots and 49ers.

Despite this limited experience, Garoppolo was in high demand across the league before the Patriots ultimately dealt him to the 49ers. In fact, the Bears reportedly were interested in acquiring him before drafting Mitchell Trubisky in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Landing Trubisky by no means is a consolation prize for the Bears. In the end, both the 49ers and Bears landed young starting quarterbacks that should lead their respective franchises for years to come.

Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that were 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.