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Bears Need to Force Action on Russell Wilson

| March 2nd, 2021

Once Russell Wilson has been dangled in front of the faces of Bears fans, little else will do. And recent reports out of Seattle make two things clear:

  • Wilson doesn’t want to keep beating his head against the wall in Seattle.
  • Seattle doesn’t want a QB who publicly speaks his mind.

None of that would matter except, shockingly, the Chicago Bears just so happen to need a quarterback and Wilson listed them on his list of teams to which he would accept a trade. Like the Texans with Deshaun Watson and the Packers with Aaron Rodgers, the Seahawks seem to have little interest in trading their star quarterback right now. Doing so would actually cost Seattle $39 million in 2021; keeping Wilson would cost them $32 million. Paying $7 million to get rid of a franchise quarterback is bad business, no matter how upset they might be with him.

So, what can the Bears do? Well, there is an unconventional way in which the Bears and Seahawks could work out a trade.

The teams would have a handshake agreement to finalize the trade after June 1, and doing so would mean trading Wilson is only a $13 million cap hit for Seattle in 2021 and they’d save $19 million — that math is much better for them. The teams couldn’t necessarily exchange draft picks in 2021, but — in theory — the Bears could make a pick with the idea that they’d be trading that player to Seattle. The cleaner way would be to not include any draft picks until the 2022 season, but the Bears have to be flexible.

The problem, however, is that Seattle couldn’t use any assets they would get from the Bears to make trades. If they’re trading a franchise quarterback, they’d surely like to get one in return and there’s no telling if that could happen with the 20th pick. The Bears would surely want to know if they have the 20th pick to use or if it’s traded before then. Then again, Seattle doesn’t ever want to pass anyway, so maybe Nick Foles would be good enough for them.

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ATM: Trading Robinson Could Help Bears Land Franchise QB

| February 23rd, 2021

It certainly doesn’t seem as if the Chicago Bears are going to be re-signing Allen Robinson to a long-term extension, which means they have to find a way to make his exit a positive for the future of the franchise. The best way to do that is by moving him in a deal that would help the team draft the next franchise quarterback.

As I wrote last week, the team’s options at quarterback are relatively limited and trading up would cost them more picks than most GMs would be comfortable with unloading. Their most valuable asset could be Robinson through a tag and trade scenario.

In recent years, worse receivers have been traded for first round picks, so that’s where the bidding could start for Robinson. Last year, Stefon Diggs was traded for the 22nd pick and some change after a season in which he caught just 63 passes. Considering he’ll be on the franchise tag with a hefty raise coming, it’s not unreasonable to consider Robinson as having the same value as Diggs.

Trading Robinson makes the Bears future prospects at least a little more interesting.

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ATM: Wentz Might Be Best Option for Bears

| February 17th, 2021

The carousel.

While many are expecting the 2021 offseason to be a busy one when it comes to quarterback movement, it’s worth wondering if the current pause in the carousel just might be permanent and if the Chicago Bears need to find their guy soon.

The pause is because of Deshaun Watson.

While he has requested a trade and, reportedly, insists he won’t play for the Houston Texans anymore, the Texans are still without a real good reason to trade him. Perhaps refusing to trade Watson would look bad for Houston but in the long run, if they refuse to move him, Watson will have to either show up or retire. The latter option would likely mean repaying some of his signing bonus. All signs point to Houston not budging, at least for the foreseeable future.

If Watson isn’t moved soon, Derek Carr surely won’t be. The Raiders would be idiotic to move Carr without a surefire upgrade in place and it certainly appears they don’t see Marcus Mariota as that upgrade. The 49ers are also likely to stand pat with Jimmy G, though the latter likely wouldn’t be seen as a surefire starting option anyway, given his injury history.

You can bet Russell Wilson won’t be traded and the Packers have insisted they won’t move Aaron Rodgers. (He wouldn’t be available to the Bears anyway, but could cause another domino to fall.)

So, where does that leave teams like the Bears and the Colts?

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ATM: Draft Changes Make Picks Less Valuable

| February 9th, 2021

The NFL Draft is always a crapshoot, but in 2021 the odds of hitting are even lower, making the picks – at least the early selections – less valuable.

We’ve heard the story hundreds of times. A team likes a player’s tape, brings him in, puts him on the whiteboard and falls in love. In some instances, teams fall in love at dinner meetings in which the player made the reservation under a fun name and then walked them back to his crappy Toyota.

Same old story. But that won’t happen this year.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, all teams are prohibited from timing, testing, interviewing in-person or giving medical exams to any draft prospects outside of a school’s pro day or an all-star game because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a ban on all private workouts, facility visits, dinners and film sessions with prospects.

Communication can be done virtually or at structured events, but teams don’t like that. They want to get prospects in their building, have them speak to position coaches and work them out to see if they can do the specific thing the team wants the player to be able to do.

This is particularly important for quarterbacks.

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Five Steps the Bears Can Take to Accelerate Their Super Bowl Timetable (Or, Get Deshaun)

| February 3rd, 2021

If it’s simply a matter of what team can offer the most, the Chicago Bears have no shot at getting Deshaun Watson. Thankfully, that’s not the case. “The player” can pick his next team and the Bears have to sell him on the Bears being that team.

As of last week, the Texans strongly insisted they would not trade Watson. But it’s the quarterback who actually holds the power, if he wants to use it. Playing hardball and forcing Watson to either retire or pay hefty fines for not reporting to training camp is the kind of move that could kill a Texans franchise already on life support. He has made it clear he wants out and the best thing the Texans can do is move on and start thinking about the future. (And it makes their sales pitch to the fans – “he wanted out” – far easier.)

While there should be at least 30 teams trying to make a move for Watson, the Bears are situated better than many think. They have almost all of their draft picks going forward and salary cap space is easy enough to create, especially with Watson only costing roughly $11 million against the cap in 2021.

We know the Bears can’t put together an offer full of top five picks but if they can appeal to Watson, the Texans just might have to take what they can get.

Five steps to do just that.


Step One. “I F@#&ed up.”

Ryan Pace has to talk man-to-man with Watson and explain the 2017 draft.

The most important thing: he can’t insult Watson. He must find a way to explain why he took Mitch, without offending Watson even more than he already has. He must tell him he’s every bit as good as the team thought, but they fell in love with Mitch. It was a mistake.

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ATM: Bears Can’t Afford Half Measures at Quarterback

| January 27th, 2021

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proved one thing, it’s that the risk is always worth the reward at quarterback.

It’s easy to look back and say that signing Tom Brady was a no-brainer but tell that to the San Francisco 49ers, the team Brady wanted to go to. There were times when Brady looked flat out washed up over the last two years, but Tampa Bay still took the chance and gave him a two-year $50 million deal. If the decision didn’t work out, every person involved with making it would be finished in Tampa.

Signing Brady gave the Bucs hope. They went from 7-9 to the Super Bowl, with a 43-year-old quarterback who threw 40 touchdown passes during the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.

When it comes to acquiring quarterbacks, there are very few sure things. Jay Cutler looked like it as a 25-year-old Pro Bowler who had what was considered a magnificent season at the time. That 2009 trade didn’t work out quite the way the Bears wanted to, but its “failure” is no reason to be gun shy now.

While he had success, Cutler’s acquisition was as much about potential as anything. When it comes to Deshaun Watson, there is no wondering what he could become because he is already one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. If it takes four first-round picks, the Bears have to offer that. Quarterbacks of his caliber, at his age, don’t become available. Ever.

The other options are more uncertain. Dak Prescott likely won’t be available. Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Matt Stafford will be available to the Bears. Yet the quarterback carousel could still give the Bears an opportunity to grab a good player. Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo are two quarterbacks who are proven to be good, though the latter would require a solid backup as he simply can’t stay on the field.

We still don’t know for sure what the draft will offer the Bears, but if they miss out on Watson, Prescott or Carr, there’s a very good chance the Bears will be spending their first pick on the position. What they can’t do, however, is hope that a quarterback they like drops to them.

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ATM: Ten Best Fits for Defensive Coordinator

| January 19th, 2021


10. Ed Donatell

Vic Fangio’s defense is well-known because he mixes up coverages so well and Donatell is the guy who has long run his secondary. The Bears had the opportunity to hire him in 2019 but seemingly passed.

After losing out on the Bears’ job, Donatell went to become Fangio’s coordinator, but he doesn’t have full autonomy. If that’s what he wants, Fangio might allow him to leave.


9. Aaron Glenn

The former Pro Bowl cornerback has become a highly thought-of coach, even taking an interview to be the New York Jets head coach before they hired Robert Saleh.

Glenn coached defensive backs with Cleveland, where he helped both Tashaun Gipson and Buster Skrine have career years in 2014. He moved on to New Orleans, where he has been credited as a major reason the Saints have had one of the best defense in the league the last four years.


8. Mark DeLeone

DeLeone coached with Nagy in Kansas City and was one of Nagy’s first actual defensive hires, with most of the staff being coaches who previously worked with Fangio.

DeLeone’s work as inside linebackers coach has been impressive. In addition to the high level at which he has Roquan Smith playing, he helped get Nick Kwiatkoski paid and got Kevin Pierre-Louis a solid one-year deal.

(He could bring longtime defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with him in an advisory role, as Sutton helped bring DeLone into the NFL with the Jets and then brought him to KC.)


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ATM: First Look at the Quarterback Market

| January 12th, 2021

Regardless of who is making the decisions, the top priority for the Chicago Bears this offseason has to be finding a quarterback. The Bears can’t – and from the sounds of it, won’t – let the best stretch of Mitch Trubisky’s career change what they already knew: he is not and never will be good. Not finding an upgrade is no longer an option for the Bears.

While some have tried to paint the picture that the Bears won’t be able to find a better quarterback, the truth is they have no choice. And upgrading isn’t the monumental task some make it out to be. Here’s a quick look at some of the options:

The Extreme Long Shots

Russell Wilson

After finally letting Russ cook in 2020, the Seahawks seem determined not to do that again.

This is, more or less, throwing mud to see what sticks, but trading Wilson has been floated before and if Seattle wants to run into the middle of the line of scrimmage every other play, they might as well move him.

Seattle is operating in a different existence right now. Pete Carroll is determined to waste Wilson and the rest of the league can thank him for that. Don’t rule out Wilson requesting a trade since Carroll just signed a huge contract extension.

Deshaun Watson

Whatever the price for Watson might be, it isn’t too much. Like Wilson, it’s very unlikely that Watson will be traded, but players have power and Watson is ticked off.


Slightly More Likely

Derek Carr

We went down this road last year and not a lot has changed. He still plays for Jon Gruden and Jon Gruden doesn’t like anybody who currently plays quarterback for him.

The Raiders didn’t sign Marcus Mariota last year for insurance. They did it because Gruden always has a wandering eye. Carr likely wouldn’t cost that much in draft capital, but he may want a new contract to guarantee his future a little more.

With two straight seasons surpassing 4,000 yards and a passer rating of 100, Carr would solve the position for the foreseeable future. The difficult part is making sure they have enough talent around him.

Dak Prescott

If the Cowboys loved Prescott as much as they say they do, he wouldn’t be worried about a contract right now.

Prescott was on pace to throw for nearly 6,000 yards; completing 68% of his passes for an average of 8.4 per attempt. He has a career passer rating of 97.3 and he can run.

Bringing him back seems like a no-brainer for the Cowboys, but Jerry is Jerry.  It’ll cost draft picks and a lot of money, but Prescott is worth it.

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ATM: Pace Should Need Playoff Miracle to Keep His Job

| January 5th, 2021

Recently, The Athletic‘s Mike Sando published a list of NFL GMs, along with their winning percentages. Of the 18 GMs who have been in the league at least five years, Ryan Pace ranked 14th in terms of winning percentage. Two of the guys behind him have been fired. One owns the Bengals, where winning isn’t that big of a deal. The fourth? Well, how does Jason Licht still have a job?

The truth about what needs to happen with Pace was painfully obvious on Sunday. He was hired largely because of two lopsided losses to the Green Bay Packers in 2014, wherein the Packers outscored the Bears 93-31. He has closed the gap a little, but in 2020 the Packers still outscored the Bears by a combined 35 points that would’ve been more if not for a couple of garbage time scores in October. Pace has had six off-seasons to eliminate the gap between these two rivals. He has failed to do so.

Yes. Pace inherited a tough job, but was it more difficult than what Les Snead was thrown into with the Rams or Steve Keim with the Cardinals? Doubtful. Heck, Jon Robinson inherited a team that just used the second pick on Marcus Mariota and has still managed to turn the Titans into a winner.

The tricky part about Pace is that he clearly has an eye for talent.

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ATM: This Packers Week Pivotal For Pace, Trubisky, Pagano.

| December 29th, 2020


We are about to find out if this Chicago Bears run is real. That’s exactly how it should be.

Ted Phillips and George McCaskey have spent their entire lives as football bosses trying to catch up to the Green Bay Packers. Trying to prove they belong on the same field. Trying to make it a rivalry game once again. They remember Week 17 in 2010, when a pitiful performance by the Bears allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs and start a Super Bowl run that included winning the NFC Championship Game on Soldier Field.

The biggest problem with the run the Bears are on is we don’t have a clue what it means. Blowing out the Texans and Jaguars is nice, but the loss to Detroit was ugly and playing close with Minnesota wasn’t great either. The Bears have established they are not a bad team. But are they a good one?

Their QB still makes too many mistakes. Sunday was the third time he has thrown an interception in the end zone in five games and was also the third time he has fumbled in Bears territory. (This time, he was lucky enough to recover it himself.) But most quarterbacks are flawed. You can live with the flaws as long as they come up big in the big moments. This is Mitch Trubisky’s chance to do just that.

A good performance by Trubisky in a win would seem to cement him as the team’s quarterback in 2021. His play during the current winning streak hasn’t been stellar, but it’s been good enough to suggest that he’s better than the other options for 2021.

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