Bears

Bears QB Draft Preview: Beyond Jay Cutler...?

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Bears QB Draft Preview: Beyond Jay Cutler...?

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position by position as the Bears approach the 2015 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store.

Bears pre-draft situation

Whether Jay Cutler is the franchise quarterback answer beyond 2015 is a matter for another time, presumably after offensive coordinator Adam Gase has an extended period of time with him. As in into the 2015 season.

Cutler could still exit Chicago in a trade. But the Bears weren’t actively shopping him and there were not serious queries relative to trading for him. The Bears did extensive checking with Cutler’s former coaches and were satisfied enough to put themselves on the hook for $15.5 million guaranteed this season and $10 million next.

Cutler has the highest career passer rating in franchise history, but consider that irrelevant. Coach John Fox has fashioned winning teams around better and worse, and after nine NFL seasons, the Cutler questions no longer involve vague allusions to “potential” or “talent.”

[SHOP: Get a Jay Cutler jersey here]

The real unknown is Jimmy Clausen, who stepped in when Cutler played himself onto the bench last season after 14 weeks. Clausen had a dismal rookie season with Fox in 2010 that cost both their jobs in Carolina.

Clausen did not win his one comeback start last season, but he played creditably against one of the elite NFL defenses (Detroit) after four years of no-play and coming in with a short practice week after the Monday night loss to New Orleans, further shortened by Marc Trestman cancelling the Wednesday practice before the Detroit game.

Fox, Gase and general manager Ryan Pace thought enough of Clausen to re-sign him while at the same time issuing zero ironclad statements about Cutler’s status as the starter.

“We’re a production-based business,” Fox said last month. “Like every position, how you practice usually leads to how you play and perform, and we’ll evaluate that at every position as we move forward.”

David Fales remains a prospect/project.

Bears draft priority: low

The Bears had both Marcus Mariota from Oregon and Florida State’s Jameis Winston in for visits. No real expectation exists that the Bears would take either with their No. 7 pick, nor sacrifice picks to trade up for one.

“At ‘7’ I think it’s highly unlikely one of the two quarterbacks is there,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay via conference call.” And I don’t hear serious rumblings about them looking to move up for one of those two.”

Pace echoed a common GM refrain that he ideally would like to select or pick up a quarterback prospect every year. “You can take a swing every year at it and increase your odds," Pace said at the NFL owners meetings in March.

[MORE: Bears CB Draft Preview: Competition coming for Tim Jennings]

That said, the Saints didn’t do that while Pace was with New Orleans, but then again, that was a team with Drew Brees in place for most of the past decade.

The 2015 draft class is considered quarterback-lite, with only Mariota and Winston widely graded as first-rounders. History says that one from among Garrett Grayson (Colorado State), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Bryce Petty (Baylor), Sean Mannion (Oregon State) and a handful of others will emerge as a winning NFL quarterback. There are enough Joe Montanas, Tom Bradys and other success stories to make a pick from a seemingly pedestrian group more than a little intriguing.

Keep an eye on...

Shane Carden, East Carolina: Huge production, particularly high completion percentage, 86 TD passes vs. 30 INT’s.

Brandon Bridge, South Alabama: Excellent size (6-4, 225) and athleticism (4.72 sec. “40”) for a late-round pick.

Bo Wallace, Mississippi: MVP of two bowl games, 63 percent completion rate in SEC.

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

Things around the NFL got real  interesting this morning: 

Between Paterson's strong language and the fact that the Cardinals are one of the three-worst teams in the NFL this season, it seems like a pretty safe bet that this trade happens. 

As is tradition, each NFL team's fanbase started tweetin' about it: 

The guess here is that this trade caught Bears fans at exactly the wrong time. Between Brock Osweiler's 380 YDS, 3 TD game and Tom Brady's 277 YDS, 3 TD performance, people aren't exactly clamoring to buy stock in the Bears' passing defense right now. 

As of Week 6, however, the Bears pass defense ranked 1st in DVOA. No one was better. Granted, that's not where they'll be when DVOA is updated to reflect the last two games, but bailing on the Bears' pass D after two games (although a case could be made that their pass D wasn't THAT bad against New England) is foolish. There's also the fact that the Bears' secondary is already super-talented, highlighed by Bryce Callahan and Eddie Jackson both making it onto Pro Football Focus' first quarter All-Pro team. Granted, Kyle Fuller's had a slow start and Prince Amukamara hasn't been able to stay on the field, but the depth and talent of the Bears' secondary won't be their downfall. 

Positional need aside, the money just doesn't make sense for Chicago. First and foremost, the Bears just probably don't have what they'd need to bring in Peterson. According to Sportrac, the Bears have roughly $5.4 million in cap space this season - good for 23rd in the NFL (not that rank really matters, but just to give you an idea). 

That's not technically a deal breaker when it comes to Paterson, whose $11 million base salary is actually around $5.2 million once you prorate it for the first eight weeks of the year. So, if the Bears *wanted* to make a move for Peterson, the space is there. 

With that said, Peterson would come at a price that the Bears most likely don't have the luxury of affording. As of today, the market for trading top-tier secondary players has probably been set by this winter's Marcus Peters deal. In that trade, the Chiefs sent Peters and a sixth-round pick for one 4th-round pick this year and a 2nd round pick the following. As it stands, the Bears don't currently have anything better than a 4th-round pick until 2021. They definitely don't have the draft capital to match the Peters deal -- which was actually considered a light return at the time. 

And sure, the Bears could come at the Cardinals with a package built around current players, but why would that interest Arizona? Would a rebuilding team be THAT interested in Leonard Floyd, or some sort of Kevin White-Proven Vet combo? There's no incentive for the Cardinals to listen to any offer that doesn't include high round draft capital, and the Bears can't offer that. Paterson on the Bears would be an embarrassment of riches, but not one that the Bears can realistically swing. 

Let's listen to the Bears-Patriots' wild finish in other languages, because it's way better that way

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@thecheckdown

Let's listen to the Bears-Patriots' wild finish in other languages, because it's way better that way

Remember Sunday's Bears-Patriots finish? The one where the Bears (and Kevin White -- shouts to Kevin White!) were one-yard away from tying the game on a hail mary? 

Here was the call that most viewers heard, which was Extremely Meh: 

Now here's the call that viewers in Germany and Portugal heard, which is SO MUCH BETTER: 

Turns out that being excited for an exciting play makes for good television, who woulda thought.