Hines Ward may not be the only Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver worth more than a casual look by the receivers-light Bears.
Indeed, the Bears undoubtedly have done ample background due diligence not only on Ward, but also on a bigger Pittsburgh prospect: speed receiver Mike Wallace.
Adam Schefter over at ESPN.com reports that the Steelers are not expected to use their franchise tag to secure Wallace, a restricted free agent who will be among the top options on more than a few personnel boards.
The tag for wideouts is expected to be about 9.5 million, a heavy price for the Steelers who are nowhere near the cap-loose Bears.
The tender offer will be less than 2.8 million for giving the Steelers the option of matching an offer to Wallace or receive a first-round draft choice in compensation.
Wallace, 25, emerged as one of the NFLs top speed receivers with 72 catches last season and eight touchdowns. He hasnt missed a game in three seasons with reception totals of 39 and 60 before last year.
If theres a negative, its that Wallace is 6-feet tall, not the taller wideout the Bears and everyone else craves. Wallace also was a third-round draft choice by the Steelers, taken 14 picks after the Bears selected Earl Bennett.
Signing Wallace, assuming the anticipated first-round tender, would cost the Bears their No. 1 as well as a multi-year deal for more than the 30 million they spent in 2005 for Muhsin Muhammed.
Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.
He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.
When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.
He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.
“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”
Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.
“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.
Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.
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If Mitchell Trubisky has the kind of break out year in his second season under Matt Nagy that Bears fans are hoping for, he should have no problem cashing an OVER 26.5 passing TDs ticket for bettors who want to back him.
Per Bet Chicago, Caesars is rolling out division props and they set Trubisky’s touchdown pass total for 2019 at 26.5 and his pass yard total at 3,744.5.
While both those marks would be career highs for Trubisky, this number will surely be seen as a slight by the hometown fans and continue to add to the polarizing nature of the quarterback formerly known as the Pretty Boy Assassin.
In Chicago, and if you’re team Mitch, this number is ridiculously low and you’re probably already pounding the over.
Outside of Chicago, and with some analytical support, there’s a lot of doubt about Trubisky’s future as a viable option as an NFL starter, so I’d guess the Pro Football Focus crowd is probably gonna take the under.
We rolled out some props of our own on the Under Center podcast last week including:
Will Mitch Trubisky pass for 10 or more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (Including playoffs for both)
26.5 regular season passing touchdowns probably gives Kimbrel the edge, but it’s right in range.
And that Trubisky – Kimbrel prop prompted this bold response from our own Bears insider JJ Stankevitz:
I don’t think I’m in the 40 club with my guy JJ, but the OVER certainly feels like the move here. At least it better be if the Bears are gonna make any sort of NFC North title defense.