Oakland Raiders

How Tom Brady can make Raiders' Derek Carr a realistic trade for the Bears

How Tom Brady can make Raiders' Derek Carr a realistic trade for the Bears

There is a way for the cap-strapped Bears to get a high-priced quarterback upgrade without limiting their ability to address other needs. And it's centered around Tom Brady. 

It would also require Ryan Pace to make his boldest move in addition to a bunch of other things falling into place around the league. How likely this hypothetical (and to be clear: This is only a hypothetical) is to play out is one thing (more on that later) but here’s how Brady can get the Bears a better quarterback without breaking their salary cap. 

Between the NFL’s legal tampering window opening March 16 and the new league year beginning March 18, every free agent quarterback but Brady finds a new home. Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are all under contract by March 20. 

The Bears, too, sign Case Keenum to a cheap one-year contract. Think about $5 million. 

Meanwhile, Brady, intent on exploring free agency for the first time in his career, takes his time making a decision. Maybe he doesn’t have a cross-country traveling tour, but he meets with teams in of his (I’m assuming here) several palatial estates. 

So the New England Patriots, not wanting to risk Brady leaving them in the lurch, trade for Andy Dalton as insurance. 

The days melt off the calendar and all of a sudden, it’s March 23 and Brady is ready to make a decision. The Colts, Chargers and Titans aren’t in play, deciding not to risk leaving themselves exposed to the whims of a 43-year-old who believes good hydration prevents sunburns. The same goes for the Patriots. 

And on March 25, Brady decides to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders. 

All of a sudden, all of the teams that seemed to need a quarterback don’t. The Raiders don’t have a path to trading Carr to the Colts, Patriots, Chargers or Buccaneers.

You can see where this is going. 

The Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock brain trust is not going to cut him, but they will accept a lesser offer for a relatively cheap 28-year-old who had a passer rating of 100.8 and threw for 4,000 yards last year. 

The only way the Raiders trade Carr is if they sign Brady (Cam Newton, even if healthy, doesn't fit Gruden's offense). That’s the only path for Carr to become available; in this case, he’s available but there aren’t many suitors for him. 

What if Pace, in his boldest move of all, called up Gruden and Mayock and made this pitch: We’ll send you a couple of late-round picks…but also Mitch Trubisky. 

This allows the Bears to go get their version of Alex Smith for only an additional $9 million in cap space in 2020 (Carr’s cap hit is $21.5 million; Trubisky’s is about $9.2 million). That’s entirely palatable; much more so than trading for Carr and keeping Trubisky, meaning the Bears will sink over $30 million into their quarterback room in 2020.

RELATED: Will Ryan Pace's actions speak louder than his words

A Carr-Keenum pairing completely turns over the Bears’ quarterback room for the better, all while allowing Pace the flexibly to pay for a starting tight end, right guard, inside linebacker and/or safety in free agency. 

Don’t discount the Raiders’ interest (specifically, Gruden’s) in trying to “fix” a talented, yet underperforming quarterback. They did it a year ago with DeShone Kizer for some reason and could be convinced to view Trubisky as the heir apparent to Brady once he retires. Sure, Trubisky will hit free agency after 2020 if his fifth-year option isn't picked up but there's value for getting him in the building. 

If everything in this scenario falls into place and you were to ask “who says no?”, it feels like Pace may be more likely to say no than Gruden. 

This is how the Bears are able to trade for Carr, but still address other needs on their roster with a meager amount of cap space and draft capital. The Bears, otherwise, can’t realistically add a significant upgrade over Trubisky without making the rest of their 2020 roster worse. 

The reality check is that this hypothetical is not exactly realistic. None of this matters if the Raiders don’t lure Brady to Nevada. And expect the Bears to continue sending signals of their firm belief in Trubisky this week from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, with their focus on adding a guy like Keenum to compete with him — not a guy like Carr to replace him as the starter. 

But if you’re in the camp that the Bears need bold action at quarterback, this would be it. And hey, it's fun to dream, right?

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NFL free agency: Making sense of Derek Carr's Instagram of Khalil Mack

NFL free agency: Making sense of Derek Carr's Instagram of Khalil Mack

There's smoke here and Derek Carr is coming to the Bears, right?

You might want to believe that if you, the Bears fan who’s given up on Mitch Trubisky, read into Carr's caption-free Thursday Instagram post. The photo was of Carr, who’s still employed by the Raiders, with his good friend Khalil Mack. 

Couple Carr’s confusingly similarly named brother, David, posting a hashtag (#megaPowers) on it and the inference is crystal clear, right? This can only mean one thing: Carr will quarterback the Bears in 2020.

That’s the good stuff. 

Welcome to the silliness of NFL free agency, where Stefon Diggs deleting photos of himself in a Minnesota Vikings uniform means the moody receiver definitely wants to be traded (that happened with Jordan Howard two years ago and…Howard was not traded).

Know how to interpret a single emoji in a tweet from an impending free agent or disgruntled star? Congrats! You're qualified to be an NFL insider.

Now: Carr posting a photo with one of his closest buddies means he very well could want a reunion with Mack in Chicago. 

Nevermind the minor details of Carr 1) Still being on a Raiders team that doesn’t currently have his replacement on the roster and won’t until mid-March at the earliest, 2) carrying a $21.5 million cap hit in 2020, about $7 million more than the Bears’ available salary cap and 3) not having any control over where he’d go if the Raiders were to trade him.

RELATED: Bears Free Agent Focus: Eric Ebron

Maybe Carr found a picture of himself and his best friend, and posted it for no other reason than it was a good photo, as those of us on Instagram often do. 

More importantly, The Bears look unlikely to make a splash move at quarterback if you follow the money. Carr is too expensive to trade for while also successfully filling red-line needs at tight end, right guard, inside linebacker and safety. 

Or maybe there is smoke here and the Raiders have made it clear to Carr they’re going to explore the quarterback market (maybe with Cam Newton, maybe with Tom Brady), and he’s starting to agitate for a trade to Chicago. Maybe the Bears are back-channeling some discussions to make sure they’re at the front of Mike Mayock’s mind when he tries to find a landing spot for Carr in the event he and Jon Gruden lure Brady to Las Vegas. The Bears, theoretically, could trade for Carr and sign him to an extension that makes his 2020 cap hit more palatable. 

You can see why the Bears might want Carr, who's had success in the past, is cheap relative to other starting quarterbacks and could be viewed as this franchise's version of Alex Smith. But that’s a long way off.  

And it’s not unprecedented for a vague Instagram post to portend the future. Remember when Allen Robinson posted a photo of himself in a Cubs jersey a month before signing in Chicago?

Or another possibility — and this tracks the most: Maybe Carr is just messing with everyone, knowing his name has been mentioned by the media as a potential trade target. 

As Instagram user angel.et.03 so elegantly put it in a comment: “Carr just f***ing with us at this point.”

Good on Carr if he is. He certainly succeeded.

Then again: Of the 70,000+ likes the photo has, one of them is from the user “fiftydeuce,” — Mack himself.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

What Went Wrong: Things start to fall apart against the Raiders in London

What Went Wrong: Things start to fall apart against the Raiders in London

"What Went Wrong" aims to take a look at each of the Bears’ eight losses and figure out, well, just that. Consider it one last chance to hate-read about the 2019 season. 

Considering just how much went wrong for the Bears this season, it’s a little funny to remember that they actually finished the first quarter of their season at 3-1. Eddy Pineiro kept the panic at bay with his 53-yard winner against the Broncos, they beat a bad team in Washington and even managed a scrappy, Chase Daniel-inspired victory over the Vikings. Trubisky was in a sling, but all things considered, the season was still going as planned. Just a quick, 8-hour transatlantic flight and game against Jon Gruden’s 2-2 Raiders stood between the Bears and a 4-1 record at the bye. So what went wrong?

On The Surface 

A very winnable game had it’s two obvious breaking moments: Kevin Pierre-Louis’s running-into-the-kicker penalty on a 4th-and-6, and the miscommunication between Daniel and Anthony Miller on the Bears’ last drive of the game. On the former, the Bears were up 21-17 and the penalty negated Tarik Cohen’s return, which would have had the offense near midfield. Now 4th and 1, the Raiders converted on a fake punt the next play. Oakland would score the game-winning touchdown on the same drive. 

Daniel’s interception came with a little under two minutes left, and the Bears down 24-21. The Bears again were near midfield, and Daniel checked into one of the team’s staple plays. There was some sort of miscommunication along the way, and Gareon Conley grabbed the easiest interception he’s ever going to get: 

Both Nagy and Daniel admitted that it was a poorly thrown ball, though they also both noted that Miller’s route could have been 4-5 yards deeper. Foreshadowing!! 

Under The Surface 

This was Kyle Long’s last game, and the tape wasn’t kind to him. Pro Football Focus gave him the worst overall rating (38.0) of anyone on the offense that day, as he allowed 11 hurries, 2 QB hits, and one sack over 56 snaps. Pass blocking was an issue all day; David Montgomery only had 25 yards on 11 rushes, averaging 2.3 yards per attempt. The longest run of his day was six yards. Bobby Massie, Charles Leno Jr. (who was flagged three times that afternoon), and James Daniels each allowed a sack, too. The passing game wasn’t particularly efficient either: Allen Robinson was good, but Tarik Cohen only had six catches for 39 yards, Miller had four for 52, and Trey Burton had three for 16. 

It was also one of the first times that fatigue was a major factor for the Bears’ defense. Chuck Pagano’s unit allowed the Raiders to go 97 yards on their game-winning drive, only giving the Bears 100 seconds or so to try and answer. Akiem Hicks got hurt, they didn’t record a sack, and Khalil Mack was the only player to even record a QB hit. 

The Raiders also did a great job exposing the Bears’ linebackers in passing situations. Of the 229 passing yards the team allowed, according to PFF, 126 of those are attributed to Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Smith looked a bit slow throughout the game, his first back since being a gameday scratch against the Vikings a week prior. It was a pretty sloppy affair – the Bears had seven missed tackles from seven different players. The Bears left London 3-2, banged up, and tasked with sitting through two weeks of Flight Time discourse. Things weren’t even that bad yet!