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Data: A Twitter Thread on Ryan Pace’s Roster Debacles

| December 16th, 2021

The Bears are reportedly still unsure on Ryan Pace. Let’s check in on some of his big contracts, shall we?

On offense, there are 5 veterans making >$5M/year: Allen Robinson, Cody Whitehair, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, and Jimmy Graham.

Andy Dalton is being paid $10M to be a bad QB for 5 games. His ANY/A+ is an 83, meaning he’s 17% worse than a league average QB. $10M well spent.

Nick Foles is getting $8M/year to not even appear in a game this year.

Jimmy Graham is getting $8M/year to play 27% of his offense’s snaps (78th among TE) and have 108 receiving yards (61st).

That’s a total of $26M – 14% of the salary cap – for backups.

Now to the starters:

Allen Robinson is getting $18M this year, which is 8th among WRs in $$/year. He’s currently 73rd among NFL WRs in receiving yards, and his catch %, yards/target, and yards/reception are sub-par for the position (and way down from the last several years).

Cody Whitehair is getting paid $10.25M/year (12th among NFL G). There’s no great way to quantify OL play, but PFF has him with a 64.5 grade, which is 36th among guards. That’s the closest the Bears’ offense can come to a guy living up to his contract.

Add it all up, and the Bears are spending a total of $54M a year on these 5 veterans, who are rewarding that investment by providing Chicago with 3 backups, 1 bad starter, and 1 average starter. Tell me more about how you’re unsure if Ryan Pace should be fired…

That’s 30% of the salary cap this year, by the way. For a grand total of 1 average starter (at a non-premium position). Money well spent!

Now in fairness to Pace:

You can’t really complain about the Whitehair contract. He’s a solid, dependable starter. Probably a little overpaid, but oh well.

And keeping ARob around was a necessity, as I wrote last offseason. My only complaint there is that Pace should have traded ARob if he made it clear he and his agent were going to act like petulant toddlers all year.

But the other 3 moves – Dalton, Foles, Graham – were obviously bad at the time.

Pace traded a pick for Foles’ awful contract when the market was saturated with Foles-level QBs who could be had for no pick + less $$. Awful move, and it was obvious at the time.

Then they paid Dalton this last offseason, when Dalton is a Foles-level QB and they clearly were stuck with Foles. That was obviously an awful move at the time too (regardless of whether they drafted Fields or not), as I wrote about at length last offseason.

The Graham contract was a ridiculous overpay at the time. He wasn’t even a starter for a full year.

Then they doubled down this year by choosing to pay Graham his non-guaranteed $7M salary (could have cut him to save that) to be a low-end TE2.

I forgot a 6th offensive player making >$5M/year: Tarik Cohen. Honestly, I can’t blame Pace for that move. The injury happened after the contract was signed, and you can’t predict injuries. Sucks that it happened, and based on Cohen STILL not practicing, I’d guess he’s done.

On the defensive side of the ball…

Honestly, it’s hard to be mad about any of these individual contracts besides Danny Trevathan. That move was so obviously terrible the moment it was made. Aging guy with long injury history and already declining play. Comically backloaded contract.

My main issue on defense besides that is the sheer amount of money they have invested in old players. Mack ($23.5M/yr), Quinn ($14M/yr), Hicks ($12M/yr), and Trevathan ($7.25M/yr) are all 30+. That’s a lot of dough ($57M/yr) to invest in old guys, who tend to get hurt more often.

So while you can’t complain about the contracts for Mack, Quinn, or Hicks in a vacuum, giving three aging pass rushers all big deals is probably not a great strategy, because then you’re in a bind when they inevitably get hurt.

It’s not a surprise that at least 2 of 3 from that Mack/Quinn/Hicks trio have either been out hurt or playing through an injury that limits their effectiveness for most of the past 2 years.

And investing so heavily in the old guys leaves less to invest elsewhere (ie CB).

So in that respect, signing Quinn was a mistake when they already had aging Mack/Hicks. It was also a mistake because they had to backload the contract a ton due to cap issues, which makes no sense when your roster isn’t good.

Then this past offseason, they should have probably moved on from Hicks to limit the age of their top guys. Could have saved $10.5M of his $12M cap hit by trading or cutting him. Ryan Pace even bragged after the trade deadline that he turned down trade offers on the DL. Why?

So yeah, if you add it up…

Chicago’s big contracts on offense are mostly going to players who aren’t even starters, while the defense is heavily skewed towards paying older players, who inevitably get hurt. It’s a great case study in how to manage your money poorly.

That, in a nutshell, is why the Bears suck. Well, that and the fact that they keep trading up in the draft, which leaves them hugely short on draft capital on an annual basis.

In short, Pace spent the last 2 years giving out bad contracts to old guys + trading away draft picks. I can totally see why the McCaskeys don’t want to fire him!

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