Bears' brass not on edge, or rushing to fill hole


Bears' brass not on edge, or rushing to fill hole

As we assessed the Bears' needs and what was available heading into Friday's second and third rounds of the NFL Draft, there still appeared to be quality and depth available at outside linebacker. That's where 3-4 defenses get their pass rush, and besides veteran free-agent signees Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho, there was no one else on the roster with experience at that position.

There still isn't.

The Bears have to be hoping Acho returns to his 2011 rookie form, when the fourth-round draft pick had seven sacks and four forced fumbles for Arizona, but he has just six in the three years since, in part due to injury. After Acho, the main candidates John Fox and Vic Fangio have to choose from are former defensive ends Jared Allen, David Bass, Lamarr Houston, and Willie Young. Houston had some experience at outside linebacker during his time in Oakland.

[MORE: Around the NFL Draft: Checking out Bears' competition]

Among the collegians picked between Bears choices Eddie Goldman and Hroniss Grasu in those two rounds were Hau`oli Kikaha of Washington, Utah's Nate Orchard, Markus Golden of Missouri and the gamble Dallas took on first-round talent Randy Gregory of Nebraska.

But Ryan Pace, in is first draft as general manager, stuck to the overall grades on his board, rather than reach to fill a potentially greater need. As colleague John Mullin wrote Saturday in the team's recent mistake-laden history of forcing choices into specific areas, it's not something Pace wants to follow, despite what could be fan disappointment.

"You have to be disciplined with that," Pace said after all his picks were in from his first class. "When I've seen mistakes, it's because you do that, and so we promise ourselves and pride ourselves that we won't do that."

John Fox's first drafts in Carolina and Denver successfully went the pass rusher route, with Julius Peppers and Von Miller. As for what he and Fangio are left to work with:

"I personally think it's the way the board fell. If there had been certain guys that would have fit our 'Bears Box,' as far as all the ramifications of that, it would have gone just like we did the whole draft — next best player."

[SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]

After getting his new team "on the grass" for three days last week (minus the injured Houston, Young and Jon Bostic) the only addition this weekend to the defensive front seven he'll head to battle with is Goldman.

"I think we pass the eye test," Fox said late Saturday afternoon. "We only saw a few practices in their underwear (helmets, jersey, shorts). In the front, it's really hard to get a great idea until you get in pads and we get to camp and a chance t see the physicality of the group. I think Eddie will give us some flexibility up front and we'll see how that works out."

That won't happen until Bourbonnais, however, with a sneak peek at veteran minicamp in mid-June. It'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff gets what it needs out of the existing group.

Programming note: Be sure to join Jim Miller, Dave Wannstedt and me at 10:30 tonight (or after Blackhawks Postgame Live) for our 30-minute special recapping the Bears' draft.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”