INDIANAPOLIS – Whether or where Denver Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson might be on the Bears’ wish list won’t be clear for some time, if ever.
But the Broncos don’t appear ready to let one of their top defensive linemen follow coach John Fox to Chicago without a financial fight.
The Denver Post, mentioning the Bears among the handful of teams with significant interest in Jackson, reported Tuesday that the Broncos have offered the 26-year-old Jackson a contract pegged at about $10 million per season, which is generally the going rate for highly regarded defensive linemen, at least certainly ones anchoring successful 3-4 defenses.
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Jackson was a drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft by the Broncos and was a spot starter and rotational player for Fox his first three seasons before starting all 16 games last season. He had a career-high five sacks and 45 tackles in the regular season, followed by 1.5 sacks in Denver’s divisional-round win over Pittsburgh and a recovered fumble for a touchdown in the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory.
Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.
In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that were 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.
Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.
Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.
Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.
Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals.
"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.
"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."
Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.
Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.