The Bears began a massive franchise rebuild earlier this year when they changed general managers, from Phil Emery to Ryan Pace, and head coaches, from Marc Trestman to John Fox. On Monday, they managed to trade Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers and Jonathan Bostic to the New England Patriots.
The two moves that qualify as deft by Pace, but shouldn’t be confused with “rebuilding.”
In this case, “deft” is better than “rebuilding.”
Clarifying concepts here, rebuilding would be moving Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, even Alshon Jeffery (none of which should be summarily dismissed, by the way), players on whom parts of the present and even near-term future rests. Trading Jermon Bushrod and moving Kyle Long to left tackle, that would constitute “rebuilding.” Some outsiders mused that keeping four running backs, including youngsters Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford, foreshadowed the Bears trading Forte to a contender, but that’s for another discussion.
Rebuilding is turning from Joe Montana to Steve Young or from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers; rebuilding doesn’t only happen when teams hit rock bottom.
What Pace, and by extension, Fox, accomplished with the Allen and Bostic deals, which netted the Bears sixth-round draft picks, was to get something, anything, for players who not only weren’t part of the future, but arguably weren’t part of the present, either.
Pace had a miniature NFL garage sale and got something for what were going to be discards sooner rather than later.
Allen was an oval peg trying to be fitted into a round hole, not a full disaster, square-peg, non-fit going from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. He was also redundant, a quality individual who was at this point of a distinguished career a mediocre outside linebacker at the deepest position on the depth chart.
Bostic was a second-round draft choice who was unfortunately injury prone over an undistinguished couple of seasons. Obtaining something in a trade for a player who hadn’t been active for any of three games with an ankle problem and missed most of the offseason with back issues…Pace should be an early favorite for NFL executive of the year (kidding, sort of).
One irony is that when Emery brought in Allen, along with Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, the moves were coupled with drafting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in what was a combination win-now and win-tomorrow strategy. The confluence of coaching and other problems undid that, but the idea wasn’t bad theory.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Of course, the other irony, more positive, is that Ferguson and Sutton have given indications of being better fits in the Fox/Vic Fangio 3-4 than in the 4-3 for which they were drafted.
In the meantime, the 2015 trading deadline is still out there, giving Pace and the Bears more time to be deft. Or rebuild.