CBA: Judge wants players, owners talking again

CBA: Judge wants players, owners talking again

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted 9:52 p.m.

By John Mullin

NFL owners and players presented their cases, literally and figuratively, to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson in Minnesota on Wednesday. And while Judge Nelson said that it would be a couple of weeks before she expects to render a decision on an injunction aimed at ending the owners lockout, she does not appear to want the two sides to simply sit around and wait.

It seems to me that both sides are at risk, Nelson said, and now is a good time to come back to the table.

Players and owners should indeed have some time. Besides the weeks Nelson uses for deliberations, an expected appeal by the loser in the process would drag out the situation into mid-June, according to general estimates.

But Nelson offered to facilitate further negotiations toward a settlement, with the effect that whichever side balks now will likely incur some ill feelings from the jurist.

Representatives of both player and owners predictably indicated a willingness to get back to negotiations and pointed to the other side as the problem. Nothing was decided Wednesday and wont be for some time, but if Judge Nelson can get the two sides talking substantively again, that will be more progress than the last several weeks have seen.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears shutout in poll of NFL's best starters under 25

USA Today

Bears shutout in poll of NFL's best starters under 25

Maybe this is what happens when a team is coming off a 5-11 season and has won only 14 games over three years. Maybe it's just another example of the Chicago Bears being overlooked and underrated. Regardless of the 'why,' a recent poll of NFL experts has provided more fuel for the Bears in 2018.

ESPN's Field Yates asked 43 insiders and former players for their list of the top under-25-year-old starters in the NFL and not a single Chicago Bear made the cut.

No Jordan Howard. No Mitchell Trubisky. No Allen Robinson.

Not a single Bear.

The most shocking omission is Howard, who finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2016 and sixth last year despite facing defenses that focused their entire game plan on stopping him every single week. At only 23 years old, he's clearly one of the top young running backs in the NFL and warranted a spot on this list. 

Instead, the Rams' Todd Gurley, Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott and Giants rookie Saquon Barkley got the nod.

Howard has more rushing yards than Gurley over the last two seasons and trails Elliott by only 179. Barkley has yet to take a snap in the NFL.

The Bears were recently named the most underrated team in the league heading into 2018 and this is just another piece of evidence justifying that claim. A winning season will change the national perception of players like Howard, who with another year of high-end production should find himself at or near the top of many of these lists next offseason.

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 7 - Roquan Smith

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 7 - Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith represents so much for the Chicago Bears. He's projected to be the next stud linebacker in a long history of great ones at the position in Chicago. Assuming he isn't kept sidelined because of an extended contract dispute, he'll be an instant-impact starter as early as Week One of the regular season.

Smith, 21, was drafted eighth overall because he has a very specific set of skills. Namely, he can run down the fastest of running backs, cover the quickest of tight ends and provide an underrated pass rush from many different places on the field. He'll line up next to Danny Trevathan to form one of the more talented linebacker tandems in the NFL. In fact, they could very well be the best by season's end.

Smith didn't report with Bears rookies Monday because he has yet to sign his contract. While it's true there's reason for concern whenever a player doesn't report on time, the reality for Smith is that Chicago's training camp is starting a week earlier than normal because the team is participating in this year's Hall of Fame Game.

Bears veterans report on July 19. If Smith is still a no-show, his status will go from contract dispute to official holdout.

Smith is going to be a critical variable in how well the defense plays this year regardless of how long it takes to get him under contract. He's as good a candidate as any to lead all rookies in tackles this season and he could end up the leading tackler on the Bears, too. Smith has the potential to be a five-tool player on defense and can challenge for top billing in several statistical categories in Chicago in 2018.

It's a slippery slope to describe a player as a can't-miss, but Smith is pretty darn close. There will be a lot of No. 58 jerseys in the stands of Soldier Field this year and if he makes good on his lofty expectations, Smith will quickly become a cornerstone piece in this new era of Bears football.