Bears: Kyle Fuller, absent Matt Forte get 2015 Brian Piccolo awards


Bears: Kyle Fuller, absent Matt Forte get 2015 Brian Piccolo awards

Coming off not only one of the best seasons for a Bears rookie defensive back but also a smooth settling in on the cadence of NFL life, cornerback Kyle Fuller has been selected as the Bears’ 2015 Brian Piccolo Award winner.

Matt Forte, who won the rookie award in 2008, joined a handful of players (Mike Singletary, Shaun Gayle, Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Olin Kreutz) to win the award as both rookie and vet. Forte did not attend the presentation ceremony and appears headed for a holdout, at least from voluntary activities, intended to create leverage for an early contract extension.

The awards reflect teammates’ assessments of loyalty, courage, sense of humor and dedication.

Coach John Fox recalled watching “Brian’s Song” as a teenager when the movie first came out. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said that the Piccolo story “grabbed the country.”

On the field Fuller tied with safety Ryan Mundy for team honors and led all NFL rookies with 4 interceptions, with Fuller also contributing 3 forced fumbles. Fuller was one of only two NFL players (Detroit safety James Ihedigbo) last season and one of only six rookies in the last 25 NFL seasons with at least three each of interceptions and forced fumbles.

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“None of this would have been possible alone,” Fuller said, giving thanks to God, family, the Bears organization and teammates for his successes. The award reflects courage, hard work and other traits, “and these were things I worked hard at growing up,” Fuller said.

Forte, in the process of seeking a contract extension going into this last season of his 2012 four-year deal, set an NFL record for running backs with 102 pass receptions (for 808 yards) last season to go with 1,038 rushing yards. His 1,846 combined yards were eighth-highest in franchise history, behind six seasons of Walter Payton and Forte’s own 2013 total of 1,933 yards.

“Growing up as a Bears fan, I know what this means to this [McCaskey] family,” said Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who did the Forte award presentation. “Matt being a second-time award winner, winning as a rookie, we’re looking forward to working with him.”

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.”