NFL free agency buzz: Bubbling going on below the surface


NFL free agency buzz: Bubbling going on below the surface

The initial two free-agency tsunamis have passed, the first being the mega-deals worked out during the pre-signing period, the second coming with less fanfare, in the form of key but quieter signings like the Bears’ with tackle Bobby Massie and linebacker Danny Trevathan. Even Matt Forte to the New York Jets, a smart second-level signing for what the NFL knows to be a first-level player.

More are coming, but take care to distinguish between smoke and fire. To wit: a fake report that the Bears had traded tight end Martellus Bennett to the Jets for ... oh, never mind on that one.

[MORE FREE AGENCY: Bears add to 'violent' quotient with Danny Trevathan, Bobby Massie]

Beneath the actual signings were percolating myriad visits and talks. The Bears were remaining aggressive on defense, with visits from New England Patriots defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman, both ranked No. 2 at their respective positions per Neither accepted a Chicago deal as of Saturday morning, and Hicks was reportedly scheduled to visit the Detroit Lions on Saturday, not a positive sign for a possible Bears signing.

And the Patriots are expected to be in on Hicks as well, with their pattern of making clear to players that they are wanted in New England but with the understanding that most athletes want very much to have that one first spin through the open market. The Patriots handle these situations well, quietly putting an offer in place and asking only that their player give them a chance to match anything better.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Jets gave a touch of credibility to the Bears’ positive feelings toward Shea McClellin, bringing in the linebacker for a visit. That makes Vic Fangio and Todd Bowles, Jets head coach and former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, two very credible defensive coaches who think more of McClellin than many local critics do.

The once-and-now-again Los Angeles Rams cut ties with linebacker James Laurenitis, who is now on visit lists for the Bears, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots


NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots


Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.