Bulls

Urlacher: Bears already better now than 2011

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Urlacher: Bears already better now than 2011

The overriding goal behind the hiring of Phil Emery to replace Jerry Angelo as general manager was to close any gap between the Bears and NFC North rivals Detroit and Green Bay.

To that end, Emerys first offseason has been a qualified success in the assessment of one player who has been both ahead of and behind the Lions and Packers during his Chicago career.

On paper were a better football team than we were last year at the end of the season, linebacker Brian Urlacher said Tuesday before he received his teams 2011 Ed Block Courage Award. We needed a receiver, we got a receiver.

And we still have the draft. All the pressure was taken off our draft with what hes done so far. So thats exciting that we might get the best player available.

Of course, 54 couldnt pass on the chance for a little dig at the doomsayers over the age of the defense in particular:

Maybe well get younger in the draft, he deadpanned.

Urlacher suggested that the offseason moves of adding wideouts Brandon Marshall, Devin Thomas and Eric Weems in addition to running back Michael Bush were the kinds of moves the team hadnt made in the past a little odd, given that the two best players on the team, Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers, were brought in with offseason moves, but a happy franchise player is always a good thing as a rule.

The 2011 season ended with Urlacher suffering a knee injury that would have finished him had the season gone on for the Bears. Urlacher is expected to do limited work in the early stages of the offseason program but was clear that all would be in order when it mattered.

Ive had so much time in the offseason to get it right and Ive got three, four months before the season, Urlacher said. When the time is right, Ill be ready to play. Im not worried about it. Its not an issue.

Bulls Talk Podcast: 2018 NBA Draft primer (and some Kawhi talk)

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AP

Bulls Talk Podcast: 2018 NBA Draft primer (and some Kawhi talk)

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Strotman and Scott Phillips get you set for the 2018 NBA Draft. They put together their own mock draft, analyzing each of the first seven picks, analyze a handful of options the Bulls should look at at No. 22, and answer questions from Twitter. They also discuss the Kawhi Leonard trade rumors and whether the Bulls could put together a package that would entice San Antonio.

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.