Bears

Are the Bears too young?

623456.png

Are the Bears too young?

Eventually any story about NFL players getting old is bound to be accurate. Just not right now with respect to the Bears, in the mind of the person whose future is most closely aligned with 30-something veterans like Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher.

The calendar is inexorable but looking at just the numbers is missing the far bigger picture, according to coach Lovie Smith.

Briggs, Peppers, Tillman, Urlacher, center Roberto Garza all received some level of Pro Bowl honor this week. None missed a single game in 2011. The four defensive players missed none in 2010; Garza missed two to have in-season knee surgery.

To me you have to first establish, are they breaking down? Smith told CSNChicago.com. And they are not. Julius Peppers I dont care what the Pro Bowl alternate status says is the best defensive end in the league. How many games did Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman miss?

Obviously you need young players to come along at every position at some point, but we are not seeing players breaking down at our core positions.

Young in many places

Smith is under no illusions about the need for a productive talent pipeline.

But the oldest of the Bears four top defensive tackles is 27 (Matt Toeaina), with Amobi Okoye, Stephen Paea and Henry Melton 25 or younger and Melton selected as a Pro Bowl alternate. The Bears have explored re-signing Okoye to a longer-term deal.

Smith got to a Super Bowl with an offensive line of veterans (John Tait-Ruben Brown-Olin Kreutz-Garza-Fred Miller), all of whom except Kreutz were free-agent hires.

Lance Louis is expected to resume a starting guard spot. Gabe Carimi, JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams are all draft picks and 26 or younger. Centerguard Chris Spencer is 29; recently re-signed guard Edwin Williams is 25.

Across the offensive line, and really over the whole offense, the guys in key positions are young, Smith said. You always reach a point where you do have to go through a transition at every position.

We have two first-round, young offensive linemen (Carimi, C. Williams). You look at JMarcus Webb, Lance Louis, theyre all first-contract guys. You like that. We have a young quarterback Jay Cutler is 28 and all our tailbacks Matt Forte, 26; Kahlil Bell, 25; Armando Allen, 23 are all young.

Corey Graham, the NFC Pro Bowl special teams selectee, is 27. Devin Hester turned 29 in November. Pro Bowl alternate kicker Robbie Gould turned 30 on Friday.

Transition process

Time will exact its toll. Urlacher, 33, is signed only through the 2012 season and if he is held out Sunday because of knee soreness, you may be looking at his eventual successor in Nick Roach, 27, whom some in the organization see as the prototypical middle linebacker in the Smith defensive schemes.

Linebacker, along with wide receiver and cornerback, will be the priorities of the offseason along with a pass-rushing defensive end. Receiver and cornerback are search areas for immediate-impact players.

But linebacker is a spot where the Bears hope a transition will work, as it has this year at safety, from veteran Chris Harris to youth in Chris Conte and Major Wright.

We transitioned this year at the safety position, playing a rookie in Conte, Major Wright getting more reps, Smith said. Our backup linebackers were new guys.

As for the longer-tenured veterans, theyve played a little bit, Smith said, but I feel like they have a lot more football left in them.

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

The NFL could be one step closer to returning, soon. According to Ian Rapoport, the NFL and NFLPA are close to signing their updated collective bargaining agreement for playing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides agreed to a new CBA back in March but came back to the table to revise after the global pandemic hit the United States hard.

This news comes after the NFLPA player representatives voted 29-3 in favor of the changes on Friday.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

The new deal allows for 16-man practice squads, no preseason games for 2020, and high-risk and voluntary opt-outs for players. According to Tom Pelissero, high-risk players who opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend. Voluntary opt-outs for non-high-risk players will receive a $150,000 salary advance. Contracts will toll in each case, meaning it will be treated as a regular year of service time.

According to Ian Rapoport, training camp will now include a 20-day ramp-up period with no more than 14 padded practices.

In addition, Rapoport reports that rosters will need to be trimmed down to 80 players by Aug. 16, and no more than 80 people will be allowed in team buildings at a time.

"The NFL clubs and the NFL Players Association approved an agreement that broadly resolves all outstanding issues relating to the opening of training camps and start of the 2020 season," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Training camps will begin as scheduled.

"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials.

“The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl."


RELATED: Success of Bears' coronavirus 'bubble' rests on player responsibility

SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.

COVID-19 concerns cause Bears' Jordan Lucas to opt-out of 2020 NFL season

COVID-19 concerns cause Bears' Jordan Lucas to opt-out of 2020 NFL season

The Bears announced a handful of moves on Monday morning, with the most notable being that safety Jordan Lucas has decided to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season. 

Lucas is the second player on the roster to opt-out, along with defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. The safety signed as a free agent back in March, having previously spent time mostly as a special teams guy for the Dolphins and Chiefs. 

Additionally, the team announced that defensive tackle John Jenkins and tight end Eric Saubert have both been taken off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Jenkins will be tasked with filling much of the role that Goldman's absence creates. 

Lastly, the team waived offensive lineman Dino Boyd. An undrafted free agent who originally signed with Kansas City in 2019, Boyd spent the final seven weeks of 2019 as a member of the Bears' practice squad.