Tennessee Titans

Which of these 2 Titans free agents should the Bears consider signing?

Which of these 2 Titans free agents should the Bears consider signing?

The Tennessee Titans' 2019 campaign should provide Bears fans with hope that Chicago's underachieving year can quickly turn around in one season, assuming GM Ryan Pace makes calculated decisions to protect the team from another regression.

Tennessee's trade for quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the kind of chess move that allowed the Titans to give Marcus Mariota one more season to prove he's the franchise quarterback so many draft experts predicted he'd be, while also making sure the team could still compete if he failed. Mariota didn't take advantage of that opportunity, and he was out of the lineup for good by Week 7.

But Tannehill doesn't deserve all the credit for the Titans' breakout on offense. Two other players, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents in March, deserve some attention and potentially an offer from the Bears in free agency: Running back Derrick Henry and offensive tackle Jack Conklin.

RELATED: Top 30 Free Agents of the 2020 NFL Offseason

Henry ran for a league-leading 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns in 15 games and would probably be the 2019 NFL MVP if it wasn't such a quarterback-tilted award. In fact, an argument can be made that Henry is the engine behind Tannehill's success. With so much attention paid to stopping the 250-pound workhorse, play-action and downfield opportunities were easier to complete. Tannehill did, after all, complete over 70% of his passes in 2019.

Imagine if Mitch Trubisky had the luxury of handing the ball to a player like Henry 25 times per game. His job would become, well, easy. And this isn't to suggest running back David Montgomery can't be an effective bell-cow back who can rumble for 1,250 yards. But Henry is an elite player who will remain at or near the top of the league's running backs for the next few seasons.

Will Ryan Pace pay nearly $14 million per season for a running back? It seems highly unlikely considering the limited salary-cap space the Bears have and the pressing need to add a Tannehill of their own. If Henry's asking price drops a bit, then who knows. But assuming a team with a lot of money to spend is willing to pay up, the Bears would be better served looking elsewhere.

So what about Conklin? Chicago needs an upgrade along the offensive line and while Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie have proven to be adequate starters during their careers, Conklin was at one time considered one of the NFL's top young tackles before injuring his knee in the 2017 playoffs.

He returned to form in 2019 and was graded as the 15th-best tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus. Compare that to Leno, Jr. and Massie, who graded 86th and 65th respectively.

According to Spotrac, Conklin's projected market value is $15 million per season, which is a little bit higher than Henry but is also for a position that is much harder to fill. 

The Titans declined Conklin's fifth-year option last May and as a result, he's going to cash-in on the open market. Tennessee may end up using the franchise tag to keep him, which would all but eliminate him from consideration for the Bears.

If, however, both Conklin and Henry are allowed to flirt with new teams, it seems pretty clear that Conklin would be the better use of funds. Sure, Henry would be a lot of fun to watch pound opposing defenses into submission, but Montgomery has the potential to be the same kind of fan-favorite. Conklin, on the other hand, is a clear upgrade over Leno, Jr. and Massie, and would provide more long-term returns for the money, too. 

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB sign-stealing scandal continues

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB sign-stealing scandal continues

David Haugh, Hub Arkush and Matt Spiegel join Leila Rahimi on the panel.

0:00- MLB's sign-stealing scandal continues to dominate the sports world as Carlos Beltran is let go by the Mets. So what could possibly happen next? And Commissioner Spiegel gives his plan for riding the game of this menace.

14:00- The Bears keep adding new offensive coaches. Will they make Mitch Trubisky better?

23:00- Can the Titans pull off another huge upset or is the Chiefs' offense unstoppable? And can Aaron Rodgers find a way to beat the 49ers defense? The panel dissects the conference title games and weighs in on the latest controversy surrounding Odell Beckham, Jr.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Would the Bears avoid signing Marcus Mariota because he shares an agent with Trubisky?

Would the Bears avoid signing Marcus Mariota because he shares an agent with Trubisky?

According to the very first search result on the very first Google page, it takes — on average — 66 days to successfully create a habit. 

According to another search result, also on the first page, there are 59 days left until March 13. March 13 just so happens be the first day that NFL free agents can sign with new teams. So if we try our best, it's entirely possible that we can make Bears QB speculation a fully-formed habit by the time we'll get any actual news about it. Life is all about setting achievable goals; let's dive in. 

Today's speculation comes from the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, who's as tuned into what's happening behind the scenes at Halas Hall as just about anyone on the Bears' beat. He went on the radio show that Akiem Hicks (hilariously, sorry) hung up on like a month ago, and chatted about why it doesn't seem likely that the Bears would bring in Marcus Mariota. 

"... those quarterbacks share the same agent, and that makes no sense for the agent because the agent then guarantees one of their two clients is not starting. And, furthermore, the agent probably sees Trubisky as a guy who should be a starter, who shouldn't be challenged for the starting job, so there's almost no way that they would take another one of their clients to go challenge another one of their clients for the job. Mariota's just an absolute non-starter for the Bears, no matter how they even evaluate him ... " 

Both Trubisky and Mariota are represented by Rep 1 Sports. For whatever it's worth, Rep 1 sports also represents Blake Bortles, who signed a one-year deal to be the Rams' backup QB before this past season. The Rams' starting QB, of course, is Jared Goff ... who's also represented by Rep 1 Sports. Another QB2 on the agency's roster is Nate Sudfeld, who appeared in three games between 2017 and 2018 as Carson Wentz's backup in Philadelphia. Now guess who represents Wentz!! 

Then again, Biggs typically gets these things right, and him saying that Mariota is a "non-starter" with the organization should be taken seriously, especially now that Mark Helfrich isn't around. Maybe that line of reasoning is what the Bears are going with, even if the agency has shown no real history of being averse to having 2 QBs on the same roster. Bortles and Sudfeld were never going to push their respective teammates for a starting job, but it's not like Mariota would push Trubisky either? That is, if you believe what the McCaskeys/Matt Nagy/Ryan Pace are saying about Trubisky's job status. Maybe you don't, though, which makes this speculatory blog perfect for you! 

Eight! More! Weeks!