Bears

NFLPA executive director will tell free agents not to sign with Bears if Illinois workers' comp bill passes

NFLPA executive director will tell free agents not to sign with Bears if Illinois workers' comp bill passes

Equipped with nearly $63 million in available salary cap space this offseason, the Bears should have no problem getting free agents to sign on the dotted line come March 9, right?

Not if NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has any say in the matter.

Smith made an appearance on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on WSCR-AM 670 on Friday afternoon, saying that he will tell free agents not to sign with the Bears if the new Illinois workers' comp bill is passed. 

"I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears," Smith told WSCR. 

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The bill, which is being pushed by the McCaskey family, would put an end to health care for all injured workers beginning at the age of 35, including professional athletes in Illinois.

"This bill being sponsored by (senate Republican minority leader Christine Radogno) is being designed to target professional athletes and take away their right to health care that every worker in the state of Illinois is entitled to," Smith told WSCR. "The Bears’ owners are behind it as well, to beat the expense of the players who actually do all the work. They’re pushing the bill."

The Bears released the following statement via Chris Emma of 670 The Score:

"We join the four other major professional Chicago teams in monitoring and supporting changes to the system that protect athletes’ rights under the workers’ compensation system while acknowledging athletes are not competing professionally until age 67. Nothing in the wage differential language under consideration impacts the right for any athlete to receive just compensation for partial or permanent injury, medical benefits or to file a claim itself."

Fore more information on the bill, visit Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Under Center Podcast: What should we make of Kevin White?

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: What should we make of Kevin White?

Kevin White had a, well, interesting media session on Wednesday, but was he wrong for how he approached it? Plus, Moon and JJ look at Mike Furrey’s approach to White and how Mitch Trubisky is quickly growing into being a leader barely over a year after being drafted. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

There's a lot of optimism about the Chicago Bears in 2018 largely because of the incredible offseason had by GM Ryan Pace. It started in free agency with several big-name additions on offense and continued in the NFL Draft with the selection of Roquan Smith, arguably the top all-around defender in the class.

Pace now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He's entering a season with actual expectations. While those expectations vary, one thing is consistent: Improvement is expected.

According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago should end up challenging for a playoff spot.

No less than five additions on offense this offseason could make key impacts for the Bears, including wide receiver Allen Robinson who was one of the NFL’s best in 2015 before a down year in 2016 and essentially missing all of 2017 through injury. He’s joined at the position by Taylor Gabriel, who had three touchdowns on throws 20 yards or further downfield in 2016 and rookie Anthony Miller, who was tied for fourth among wide receivers in this draft class with 19 missed tackles forced on receptions. Add in tight end Trey Burton, who had three touchdowns from just 16 targets when lined up in the slot and rookie offensive lineman James Daniels from Iowa and it’s easy to see why this offense led by Mitchell Trubisky has the potential to trend upwards big time in 2018.

The Bears were one of five teams PFF listed as a surprise Wild Card candidate. The road to the post-season will be challenging, however. Not only do all of the new pieces have to gel, but they have to do it while playing in one of the toughest divisions in football.

The NFC North could have three teams -- not including the Bears --  playing in January. The Vikings may be the most talented club in the NFC and the Packers will always be a contender with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. The Lions have some vulnerability, but they've had more success than Chicago in recent seasons.

Still, Pace deserves credit for winning the offseason.