Bears

How Tom Brady can make Raiders' Derek Carr a realistic trade for the Bears

How Tom Brady can make Raiders' Derek Carr a realistic trade for the Bears

There is a way for the cap-strapped Bears to get a high-priced quarterback upgrade without limiting their ability to address other needs. And it's centered around Tom Brady. 

It would also require Ryan Pace to make his boldest move in addition to a bunch of other things falling into place around the league. How likely this hypothetical (and to be clear: This is only a hypothetical) is to play out is one thing (more on that later) but here’s how Brady can get the Bears a better quarterback without breaking their salary cap. 

Between the NFL’s legal tampering window opening March 16 and the new league year beginning March 18, every free agent quarterback but Brady finds a new home. Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are all under contract by March 20. 

The Bears, too, sign Case Keenum to a cheap one-year contract. Think about $5 million. 

Meanwhile, Brady, intent on exploring free agency for the first time in his career, takes his time making a decision. Maybe he doesn’t have a cross-country traveling tour, but he meets with teams in of his (I’m assuming here) several palatial estates. 

So the New England Patriots, not wanting to risk Brady leaving them in the lurch, trade for Andy Dalton as insurance. 

The days melt off the calendar and all of a sudden, it’s March 23 and Brady is ready to make a decision. The Colts, Chargers and Titans aren’t in play, deciding not to risk leaving themselves exposed to the whims of a 43-year-old who believes good hydration prevents sunburns. The same goes for the Patriots. 

And on March 25, Brady decides to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders. 

All of a sudden, all of the teams that seemed to need a quarterback don’t. The Raiders don’t have a path to trading Carr to the Colts, Patriots, Chargers or Buccaneers.

You can see where this is going. 

The Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock brain trust is not going to cut him, but they will accept a lesser offer for a relatively cheap 28-year-old who had a passer rating of 100.8 and threw for 4,000 yards last year. 

The only way the Raiders trade Carr is if they sign Brady (Cam Newton, even if healthy, doesn't fit Gruden's offense). That’s the only path for Carr to become available; in this case, he’s available but there aren’t many suitors for him. 

What if Pace, in his boldest move of all, called up Gruden and Mayock and made this pitch: We’ll send you a couple of late-round picks…but also Mitch Trubisky. 

This allows the Bears to go get their version of Alex Smith for only an additional $9 million in cap space in 2020 (Carr’s cap hit is $21.5 million; Trubisky’s is about $9.2 million). That’s entirely palatable; much more so than trading for Carr and keeping Trubisky, meaning the Bears will sink over $30 million into their quarterback room in 2020.

RELATED: Will Ryan Pace's actions speak louder than his words

A Carr-Keenum pairing completely turns over the Bears’ quarterback room for the better, all while allowing Pace the flexibly to pay for a starting tight end, right guard, inside linebacker and/or safety in free agency. 

Don’t discount the Raiders’ interest (specifically, Gruden’s) in trying to “fix” a talented, yet underperforming quarterback. They did it a year ago with DeShone Kizer for some reason and could be convinced to view Trubisky as the heir apparent to Brady once he retires. Sure, Trubisky will hit free agency after 2020 if his fifth-year option isn't picked up but there's value for getting him in the building. 

If everything in this scenario falls into place and you were to ask “who says no?”, it feels like Pace may be more likely to say no than Gruden. 

This is how the Bears are able to trade for Carr, but still address other needs on their roster with a meager amount of cap space and draft capital. The Bears, otherwise, can’t realistically add a significant upgrade over Trubisky without making the rest of their 2020 roster worse. 

The reality check is that this hypothetical is not exactly realistic. None of this matters if the Raiders don’t lure Brady to Nevada. And expect the Bears to continue sending signals of their firm belief in Trubisky this week from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, with their focus on adding a guy like Keenum to compete with him — not a guy like Carr to replace him as the starter. 

But if you’re in the camp that the Bears need bold action at quarterback, this would be it. And hey, it's fun to dream, right?

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Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks wants out of L.A. It's no secret the Rams are trying to trade him, and he expressed his desire to be traded on Twitter on Friday.

The Bears have a need in their offense for a speed wide receiver, and Cooks has been one of the most explosive weapons at the position throughout his career.

Prior to last season's offensive meltdown in Los Angeles, Cooks recorded four-straight 1,000-yard seasons and averaged more than 15 yards per catch in three of those years. He's still only 26 years old and has plenty of juice left in his legs to offer his next team a similar level of production; he would be a dynamic complement to Allen Robinson and would round out Chicago's wide receiver corps.

And here's the thing: we know Ryan Pace loves his former Saints. He just rewarded Jimmy Graham with a two-year, $16 million contract despite a market that likely wouldn't have valued his services anywhere near that amount.

But Graham was one of Pace's guys from his days in New Orleans, and so is Cooks.

The Saints traded a first- and third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft to move up for Cooks (they moved from No. 27 to No. 20 to select him). Pace was New Orleans' Director of Player Personnel at the time; his voice was a powerful one in the decision to acquire Cooks.

The biggest impediment to making a move for Cooks is his contract. He signed a five-year, $81 million deal with the Rams in 2018 and has a $16.8 million cap hit in 2020. With Robinson looking to break the bank on a contract extension in the coming weeks, it's highly unlikely the Bears will commit that much money to the wide receiver position. Any trade will have to include some kind of restructured contract or an agreement that the Rams carry a significant portion of Cooks' cap hit.

There's also the issue of compensation that the Bears could send to Los Angeles for a player as dynamic as Cooks. A trade would require at least one of Chicago's second-round picks. Maybe that's all it will take, but the Rams would be justified asking for more.

The dollars have to make sense and the compensation has to be appealing enough to get a deal done. But there's no doubt Pace is at least researching his options.

Cooks, unlike Graham, would be one of Pace's guys who Bears fans would welcome with open arms.

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

The 2020 NFL draft is less than four weeks away and now that the first wave of free agency is over, team needs have begun to crystallize.

For the Chicago Bears, that means youth at tight end and a starting-quality safety will be high on their draft wish list. According to Chad Reuter's latest NFL.com 2020 mock draft, the Bears check both boxes with potential starters in the second round.

At pick No. 43, Chicago adds LSU safety Grant Delpit, who prior to the 2019 college football season was considered by most draft analysts to be the most gifted defensive player not named Chase Young.

Delpit's final season with the Tigers wasn't the best for his draft stock. He lacked the splash plays that made him a household name last season, but he still displayed the kind of aggressive and fearless style that would make him a strong complement next to Eddie Jackson, who the Bears want to get back to playing centerfield. Delpit will slide to the second round because he's an inconsistent finisher, but he'd offer great value for a Bears defense that needs an aggressive run defender on its third level.

At No. 50, the Bears snag a potential starter at tight end in Purdue's Brycen Hopkins

Hopkins is a wide receiver in a tight end's body; he's everything Chicago's offense has been missing. Regardless of who wins the team's quarterback competition this summer, a player like Hopkins has the kind of playmaking ability to instantly become one of the early reads in the offense's passing game. 

With veterans Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton already on the roster, a player like Hopkins could be eased into the lineup with the expectation that he'd eventually become the primary receiving option at the position by the end of his rookie season.

Not a bad second-round haul. It's critically important that Ryan Pace hits on his second-rounders, too. The Bears' next pick doesn't occur until the fifth round, which is usually when special teams players and practice squad candidates are added.