- Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns The Athletic on the Bears reported interest in bringing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to Chicago:
“Our Athletic colleague in Cincinnati, Paul Dehner Jr., reported that the Bears have talked to the Bengals about Dalton, who has one year remaining on his contract. The Bill Lazor connection is there, and Dalton is a veteran who has made the playoffs multiple times. He makes a lot of sense, but can the Bears sign him instead of trade for him?
The last thing the Bears want to do is part with a second-round pick — which is what the Bengals will ask for in a trade — for a quarterback who was statistically worse than [Bears quarterback Mitch] Trubisky last season. Dalton, who turns 33 in October, had career-low marks in passer rating (78.3) and QBR (40.1) in 2019.”
I can’t imagine the Bengals demanding a second round pick for Andy Dalton.
For one thing, every team in the league pretty much knows they’ll release him if they can’t find a trade partner. For another, if he was worth a second round pick they wouldn’t be looking to replace him. Third the market is glutted with veteran quarterbacks.
I just can’t see it. But on the off chance that the Bears actually did give up a second round pick for Dalton it would be the death of Mitch Trubisky as a starter for the team. Dalton would almost have to start. And I can’t imagine the Bears giving up on Trubisky without at least seeing what he can do for a few games next year.
“Word came last week at the Combine from the team website that the Bengals could move on from offensive lineman Cordy Glenn. Now, comes a more definitive report.
“According to Jenna Laine of ESPN, the Bengals are shopping Glenn, and if they can’t find a trade partner, they will release him.
“Glenn, 30, got in the team’s doghouse last year. He ended up playing six games, with five starts, and served a one-game suspension for an argument with an assistant coach.”
With reports circulating that the Bears have been talking with the Bengals about a trade for Dalton, you wonder if they have actually been meeting to talk about Glenn instead.
With limited cap space, the Bears would probably have to hope that the Bengals are willing to eat some of the salary that is owed no matter which player they are talking about.
- Fishbain and Jahns continue:
“[Case] Keenum, on the other hand, is a free agent. He played on a one-year, $3.5 million contract last season with Washington. Keenum, who turned 32 last month, had a 91.3 passer rating and 43.5 QBR in 10 games last season, which included eight starts.”
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Bears weren’t thinking very carefully about Keenum. Keenum has shown that he can be successful under the right conditions as he won 13 games with the Vikings in 2017. And the price will probably be right. He’s a name to watch.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com addresses the possibility that the Jaguars will trade Nick Foles:
“Foles, the Super Bowl LII MVP, has a fully-guaranteed salary of $15.125 million in 2020, along with $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and a $250,000 workout bonus. Trading him would trigger a cap charge of $18.75 million, the remaining 3/4ths of his $25 million signing bonus from 2019.
“Faced with paying Foles nearly $16 million to back up Gardner Minshew II versus paying Foles nothing and eating $18.75 could be a justifiable swap, if the Jaguars have decided to ride with the sixth-rounder who took Jacksonville by storm as a rookie. And the below-market cash payout for 2020 could make the Foles contract attractive.”
Foles would make sense for the Bears. But I’d say that, in contrast to the situation with Dalton, he might command a high pick in a trade that the Bears don’t have. That $16 million salary might also have to be reduced.
But Foles has connections to both offensive coordinator Bill Lazer and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. So the possibility can’t be discounted if the price is right.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“What should the Bears’ strategy be in bringing in a quarterback? Should they be aggressive from the start of free agency in signing or trading for a quarterback or let the market dictate where it is headed so they don’t overpay for one? — @rickdaruler773
“The vibe I got last week in Indianapolis is the Bears have definitely prioritized the position — as they should — and will be aggressive. Whether things play out that way remains to be seen. General manager Ryan Pace knows he needs a life raft for the offense in the event Mitch Trubisky doesn’t show considerable improvement. The Bears can’t be left in a position where they are one-third of the way into the season, Trubisky has stumbled out of the gate and they don’t have a quarterback they feel can at least be steady with the defense still playing at a high level. The question is whether the Bears are willing to go hard at another quarterback with a promise he can start from Day 1. Or would they tell any potential candidates that Trubisky gets the first shot at the job? Which way they go could put them in a different class of quarterbacks. It won’t be cheap, but there isn’t an easy way out when a team trades up to use the No. 2 pick on a quarterback and three years later has more doubt and questions than confidence and answers.”
I’m reasonably sure that the Bears won’t promise whoever it is that he will be the day 1 starter. For one thing, they haven’t created the cap space to pay one.
I’m sure they’ll tell potential signees that they can compete for the job in a fair competition. But even that won’t be the case.
The reality is that the Bears want the Trubisky pick to work out and it will be his job to lose. And anyone who signs will know that whether they tell him or not.
They’re likely looking at signing a second tier free agent.
- Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times comments on the Bears quarterback situation:
“Do you ever get the feeling that public pressure has dragged the Bears, kicking and screaming, into looking for a quarterback to “push” Mitch Trubisky in 2020? That, left to their own devices, they’d not only stick with the status quo, they’d take regular naps with it? I get that feeling about 10 times a day.
“And that word — push. It’s so non-confrontational. It doesn’t want to step on Mitch’s toes. It says: ‘Your job is secure, dear one. We simply want to help you discover the best version of yourself.'”
I think Morrissey is being a little harsh in his criticism overall in this column but there’s something to what he says here.
As I said above, there’s little doubt the Bears still want Trubisky to succeed. However, there’s been a definite shift in the way that they have decided to handle him. In contrast to last year they appear to be taking a tough love approach to getting Trubisky to the point where he can perform better rather than trying to replace him.
Head coach Matt Nagy is undoubtedly tired of cutting his playbook down to accommodate Trubisky. In previous years they’ve been gentle and supportive but this offseason its evident that its going to be “learn the playbook backward and forward and get better in the offseason or you’re out”. Instead of telling him to relax in the offseason, they’re telling him to go to work.
Whether the competition is legitimate or not, there’s can be little doubt that just having one is a good part of the reason for bringing in quarterbacks that are more capable of adding to it.
- Biggs answers another one:
“Do you sense that Ryan Pace will stick with Trey Burton as the primary tight end and not look to upgrade via the draft or free agency? — @johnnyograddy
“I believe Burton will be on the roster this coming season because of the money he’s guaranteed. I also believe the Bears will continue to look for help at the position, which they already did by signing Demetrius Harris. Pace could look to draft a tight end in the second round or trade for one. I doubt the Bears will be big spenders at the position in free agency, but I am pretty certain they are not done adding to the depth chart. There will be new options in the event Burton cannot make a strong comeback from his injury-riddled 2019 season.”
I think it’s important to note that brining in competition at the U tight end position probably isn’t at the top of the Bears list. They are reasonably sure that Burton can produce when he’s healthy. What the Bears are looking to do is replace Adam Shaheen at the Y-position. That requires a different sort of player, one who is bigger and can block.
“An interesting theme of Bears-related conversations at the combine? Virtually no one brought up the defense. It’s understood that while there are some moves to be made at inside linebacker, outside linebacker, safety and corner, this is still a formidable unit … but one that needs the right offense to complement it.”
The Bears defense is an underrated need. They did well last year but if you aren’t getting better, you are getting worse. And the have some definite holes to fill.
There is plenty of talk about which inside linebacker, Nick Kwitkowski or Danny Trevathan, that the Bears will try to sign (it cold be neither). But safety, cornerback and, especially, pass rush are needs this offseason that are every bit as big as guard and wide receiver.
- Biggs answers yet more questions:
“Juan Castillo has bounced around a bit since he left the Eagles in 2012. He was out of the league last year. Cause for concern? — @bearingthenews
“Castillo has worked for the Ravens and Bills since leaving Philadelphia and spent last fall doing some work for Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. Matt Nagy hired an offensive line coach he has a background with, and that kind of relationship can go a long way. Coaches often feel most comfortable with a guy they know well. Keep in mind the personnel will be very similar to last season.”
“Despite all the quarterback talk, I feel the offensive line is the biggest team issue. Are they going to try to upgrade that front five? — @stevehayes3434
“The offensive line was not good enough last season, but it also wasn’t the reason Mitch Trubisky, by almost all measures, was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. I’ve gotten this sentiment in the mailbag for some time now, and I think some Bears fans are conditioned to accept subpar quarterback play and look for other reasons to deflect the organization’s greatest issue. The Bears will be in the market for a starting right guard. I would be surprised if they make a big investment there. New offensive line coach Juan Castillo prefers athletic linemen, so look for them to sign a guard who moves relatively well. The other four starters appear pretty much locked in.”
“I know the offensive line will need a shakeup. Do you envision Alex Bars potentially in the starting lineup? — Shaun W., Carrollton, Texas
“With a new offensive line coach in place, Bars will be evaluated and has a shot to stick on the roster as a depth player, but I imagine the Bears will seek a veteran option as the front-runner at right guard. This will be a big offseason and summer for Bars to show Juan Castillo what he has. I wouldn’t rule him out by any measure, but the Bears probably need to get some experience in the mix.”
The first one is mine.
Biggs is right in that it’s important to remember that it was the run blocking that was poor last year not the pass protection. In fact, all things considered, the Bears offensive line was more than adequate in that respect.
The Bears are obviously depending on better coaching to improve the offensive line. As Biggs points out, the Bears are basically locked in everywhere but right guard next year. You can give other guys a chance to compete and they will. But you’ll be sitting someone in whom the team has made a major investment if the current starters don’t’ win the job.
The one open job at guard is going to be interesting. We were led to believe that Bars in particular had the potential to start and I’m surprised that Biggs was only willing to state that he “has a shot to stick as a depth play” with what appears to be only an outside chance to start. He’s usually plugged in to what the team is thinking and it makes me wonder if they haven’t significantly cooled on Bars.
I’m sure Rashaad Coward will get his chance at that job, as well. He wasn’t good enough as the starter last year but he seemed to get better as the season wore on.
In any case, the Bears likely aren’t going to be signing a lot of new help for the offensive line (though you can never rule out the unexpected with Pace – see the Cordy Glenn entry above).
Sometimes your so called good players just have to step up and play better. There’s a reason four of those guys are locked in. Right or wrong the Bears believe in them.
- Yet another question for Biggs:
“We know Ryan Pace is a trade-up guy. Let’s say he packages our two second-round picks, who’s the target? — @stcollins23
“Pace has been very aggressive in the draft since coming to the Bears, trading up in Round 1 for Leonard Floyd and Mitch Trubisky. I don’t think he will be motivated to make that move this time. He has had success in Round 2, and the Bears are better off with two picks in the top 50 than one, especially considering they’re tight in terms of salary-cap space and have needs on both sides of the ball.”
I think it’s more likely Pace trades back and tries to pick up a third rounder. For instance, a reasonable trade would be to go down from #50 overall to a pick late in the second round to pick up a late middle third rounder.
Given the dearth of Bears picks in the top half of the draft, I think this makes far more sense.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com on the ratings that the combine generated after its move to prime time.
“Indeed, more than 29,000 who responded to a Twitter poll regarding consumption of televised Combine content said that they watched less this year than last year.
“The NFL seems to be intent on making the Scouting Combine into an even bigger offseason tentpole than it already is. But there may indeed be a hard ceiling on the level of interests in watching incoming rookies do a bunch of stuff that isn’t really football. And it could make more sense for the league to not cram an event that isn’t really ready for prime time into prime time.”
Count me as one who watched less of the Combine this year than in previous years. I’ve also watched less of the draft since it moved to prime time.
There was a time when I planned to sit all afternoon on weekends enjoying these events. But I work for a living and past a certain time of night I simply have to go to bed.
I might add that, although its not a factor in my case, there’s a lot more competition for eyes in prime time.