Cleveland Browns

Wild NFL offseason somehow vaults Packers, Browns over Bears in Super Bowl odds

Wild NFL offseason somehow vaults Packers, Browns over Bears in Super Bowl odds

Take a deep breath, Bears fans, the Browns’ trade for Odell Beckham Jr. has vaulted their Super Bowl Odds to 14/1, jumping the Bears (16/1) according to the Westgate Casino (@SuperBookUSA). The Browns entered the week at 25/1.

Beckham is the latest big name to join QB Baker Mayfield in Cleveland after offseason signings of RB Kareem Hunt, DT Sheldon Richardson, and a trade for DE Olivier Vernon.

It gets worse.

The Packers, who pried away Adrian Amos from the Bears (4-years, $37M) and also landed pass rushers Za’Darius Smith (4-yrs, $66M) and Preston Smith (4-yrs, $52M) as well as offensive lineman Billy Turner (4-yrs, $28M) in free agency, have also passed the Bears and sit at 14/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Green Bay has spent a ton of money in free agency, but whether that’s smart money in Matt LaFleur’s first season at the helm remains to be seen.

The Bears odds haven’t made a big move one way or the other while filling needs with RB Mike Davis, slot CB Buster Skrine and versatile WR/RB/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. The Bears still have better odds than their other NFC north rival — Vikings (20/1) — and Wild Card playoff adversary — Eagles (20/1).

The NFC champion Rams & conference runner-up Saints have the best Super Bowl odds in the NFC, each at 8/1.

And the Lions, despite trying to win the offseason on the first day of the tampering period by landing former Patriots edge rusher Trey Flowers (5 yrs, $90M), WR Danny Amendola (1 yr, $4.5M), slot CB Justin Coleman (4 yrs, $36M) and TE Jesse James (4 yrs, $25M)…well even Vegas knows that they’re still the Lions (80/1).

The day after: Bears signing/not signing Kareem Hunt is ultimately your call

The day after: Bears signing/not signing Kareem Hunt is ultimately your call

Now that the Cleveland Browns’ signing of Kareem Hunt has had time to percolate and simmer for a day, some impressions are possible.

But not many clear ones. Because this situation goes in so many different directions, with so many emotions involved.

The reason is simple enough: What the former Kansas City Chiefs running back did in a video’ed attack on a woman is heinous. Exactly what sparked the incident isn’t really clear, but that frankly doesn’t really come into play, at least for this observer. The actions/reactions of Hunt are the exhibits. It’s impossible not to have a visceral reaction of some sort.

What’s actually a little clear is that the NFL and its teams have some bizarre investigation approaches. Browns GM John Dorsey said that it had conducted an extensive investigation, with “extensive” apparently not including talking to the victim. For its part, the NFL has said that its investigation is still in progress. The Chiefs are that much faster or “extensive” than the NFL?

This writer gives the Bears considerably more credit for due diligence in their handling of the Ray McDonald case in 2015. At least then, Chairman George McCaskey got involved to the point of reaching out to McDonald’s mother. Her feelings may have been predictable but at least an effort was made beyond just talking to psychologists and such.

The McDonald effort blew up almost immediately in the form of another incident, and the Bears moved in a zero-tolerance fashion and got rid of him. The signing had made some sense from the standpoint of getting a plug-and-play 3-4 defensive lineman, who’d played for then-coordinator Vic Fangio, and coming to a team converting its entire front. In any case, an overall, bottom-line conclusion is that Hunt should not be barred from playing in the NFL. That kind of ban represents a death sentence, and Hunt did not commit a capital offense, however repugnant.

The level of repugnance should be reflected in the suspension that is expected before Hunt ever pulls on a Browns uniform. Some question does linger as to why Cleveland law enforcement did not pursue a case of assault and battery against Hunt, but that belongs to another discussion.

The fact that the Chiefs summarily fired Hunt for lying to them looms over this. Realize: Kansas City’s coach is Andy Reid, a no- nonsense individual but who also went all-in to give Michael Vick a second chance after the latter’s dog-fighting conviction and incarceration. That Reid wasn’t willing to overlook the conduct of Hunt, the reigning NFL rushing leader and foundation pillar of Reid’s offense, is bothersome. 

Matt Nagy was a member of Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles staff through the Vick saga and Reid’s Kansas City staff through Hunt’s exceptional rookie season.

The Bears were obviously open to signing Hunt, and their evident interest has been cited as a motivator for Cleveland to move quickly. That isn’t likely to make Nagy or GM Ryan Pace any more candid about future intentions in general; look what being open got them. Again, for another discussion.

But the ultimate judgement on signing a Kareem Hunt rests with the fan base. Personally, the willingness of NFL teams to sign Hunt, with a history of violence, and not sign Colin Kaepernick, with a history of simply exercising rights in a way that angered fans to the point of scaring teams away, is also bothersome. The Dallas Cowboys will sign Greg Hardy but no one will sign Kaepernick? Again, bothersome.

That said, if Hunt exhibits some of the effort Vick put into correcting issues (lobbying for curbs on dogfighting), it should not be beyond the pale for fans of a team to forgive a misspent past. The Browns apparently didn’t see that, though. Nagy had reached out to take Hunt’s emotional temperature around the end of the last football season and Nagy didn’t shut things down. Neither did the Browns, obviously.

But teams do occasionally listen, which explains the fear (of backlash) of signing Kaepernick. In the end, the public reaction does matter.

The Dolphins' asking price for Jarvis Landry didn't make sense for the Bears

USA Today

The Dolphins' asking price for Jarvis Landry didn't make sense for the Bears

The Cleveland Browns had 12 draft picks in April's draft at their disposal before trading one to the Miami Dolphins, as well as a 2019 pick, for wide receiver Jarvis Landry Friday afternoon. The Bears have seven 2018 picks, and only two of those are in the top 100. 

So there's reason No. 1 why the Bears weren't the team to acquire Landry, who led the NFL with 112 receptions in 2017. If what the Dolphins were looking for was a pair of draft picks, trading them would've gone against what Ryan Pace has tried to build heading into his fourth year as the Bears' general manager. The Browns have picks to spare; the Bears don't. 

It's unclear how serious the Bears' discussions were with the Dolphins, which John "Moon" Mullin reported included running back Jordan Howard. But those reported talks had the Dolphins shipping a third-round draft pick to move up three spots in the first round and swapping Landry for Howard. Even though the Dolphins won't receive a first- or second-round pick for Landry, adding a pair of mid/late-round picks could still help them move up in April's draft if they want to pick a quarterback. With that in mind, a trade could still be on the table with the Bears if a quarterback the Dolphins like is available at No. 8. 

In the more immediate term, the Landry trade takes of this year's three big-name receivers off the market. The Bears can still make runs at Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins when teams are permitted to enter negotiations with agents on Monday, but not getting Landry increases the likelihood that slot man Albert Wilson winds up in Chicago, as Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach all but predicted last week at the NFL Combine

There's already been plenty of pre-free agency action before the Landry trade, between the Los Angeles Rams' flurry of deals and the Seattle Seahawks' release of cornerback Richard Sherman. Expect a busy weekend leading up to Monday as teams position themselves for a pivotal stretch of the offseason next week.