Bears

Bears to meet with Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, SIU QB Mark Iannotti

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Bears to meet with Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, SIU QB Mark Iannotti

As part of their quest for a backup to develop in the pipeline behind Jay Cutler, the Bears reportedly hope to meet within the next couple of weeks with Southern Illinois quarterback Mark Iannotti, in addition to scheduling a visit with Mississippi defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche as part of the run-up to the draft in four weeks.

The Bears also were in attendance at the workout for linebacker/defensive end Victor Ochi out of Stony Brook. Ochi, 6-foot-1, 246 pounds, is a smallish pass rusher who flashed during the East-West Shrine game and has been projected as high as the second round this year.

[MORE BEARS: Depth-charting where the Bears' needs still remain]

Iannotti, from Schaumburg, received an invite to meet with the Bears, according to About Inspired Athletes and the Daily Egyptian. Over the past two seasons after transferring to SIU from Eastern Michigan University, Iannotti threw for 46 touchdowns, completing 65 percent of his passes, and rushed for 12 more scores.

Nkemdiche has been rated a first-round talent but comes with character concerns tracing back to an incident this year when he admitted to being drunk after falling out of a hotel window in Atlanta. The Bears are one of 14 teams scheduled to meet with Nkemdiche, per NFLDraftBible.com.

Because of inconsistent production at Ole Miss, Nkemdiche has slipped from a top-five prospect to perhaps the second round, which the 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive lineman understands, or says he does.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

“There are times I didn’t finish,” Nkemdiche said at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. “I was lazy on some plays at times, but I told [NFL teams] I’m going to keep growing as a player. I’m going to keep learning how to finish and keep becoming more of a student of the game and just focus on being the best NFL player I can be.”

The Bears and the NFL turn onto final approach for the draft every year about this time, following up group and private pro days with meetings.

Bears still have league-average amount of salary cap space left

Bears still have league-average amount of salary cap space left

Free agency has slowed to crawl a little more than a week into the process, and the Bears still have some money to spend.

Ryan Pace made multiple moves to clear up additional salary cap space this offseason, but he spent his money cautiously.

Even with five outside signings under contract, he still has the space to make some more moves.

As of Friday, the Bears have just under $17 million in cap space, the 16th-most in the NFL, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

Pace has more money to work with now than he did before the team started releasing players to clear space.

He still has to keep some cap available to sign their draft picks as well as an emergency fund for the season, but the Bears have more than enough money left to add an impact player or two on the open market.

The pool of talent to pick from continues to shrink, but Pace can still find quality options that could come at a bargain the longer they sit on the open market.

 

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Chicago Football Madness Rd. of 32: Chalk dominates the 1st round, with some notable exceptions

Chicago Football Madness Rd. of 32: Chalk dominates the 1st round, with some notable exceptions

Excitement for the Bears are at an all-time high, so while March Madness and the NCAA Tournament begin, we still have Bears on the mind. So we've created Chicago Bears Football Madness, pitting players from the three best Bears teams and legends head-to-head.

THIS. IS. STILL. MARCH. 

The first round of our inaugural Chicago Football Madness Tournament is over, and friends, it was kind of anti-climatic -- except for Jay Cutler advancing, that rules. 

Out of all the 32 Opening Round matchups, only two underdogs moved on: Robbie Gould and The Fridge. Now, Gould's got a tough matchup against 2-seed Lance Briggs, and there's no rest for the Perry (this joke works, right?) as he takes on Walter Payton. 

Keep sending the votes in! You can find all the matchups over on our Twitter account, or on the website, because we like to give you options. 

RD. OF 32 REGIONS:

1985 Bracket

2006 Bracket

2018 Bracket

Legends/Others Bracket

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.