If anything substantial occurs surrounding the Chicago Bears, I’ll be here!
A source, a trusted source for many years, sent me a text.
“Quinn. Big money. Floyd cut.”
The lack of words was jarring but I knew what it meant. This was happening quickly. To Twitter I went!
Feels weird to Tweet about football because there are just bigger things happening. But I’m guessing Leonard Floyd is not long for the Bears and they’ll add pass rush help. A Robert Quinn type.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) March 17, 2020
Within minutes, Ian Rapoport broke the news of Robert Quinn signing a massive deal with the Bears. Within minutes of that, Adam Schefter broke the news of the Bears cutting Leonard Floyd.
Unless you’re one of those folks who obsesses over the salary cap, there’s simply no way to criticize the Quinn signing. He is one of the best pure pass rushers in the sport and solidifies one of the best front sevens in the game. This was an ideal free agency move for Ryan Pace because pass rush prospects – even mediocre ones – go early in the NFL Draft. Teams happily leverage future draft picks to acquire them. The Bears were unlikely to find ten sacks in the second round (or later). Now they don’t have to.
As for Floyd, for years he has frustrated many inside the walls of Halas Hall. He is a superior athlete and that athleticism has allowed him to develop into one of the best edge coverage guys in the league. But playing on the edge in NFL requires more than covering backs and tight ends. You must get to the quarterback. You must disrupt the passing game. And Floyd doesn’t do that. He’s a sloppy pass rusher, often out of control when he manages to evade blockers. In 2019, with Khalil Mack struggling through injuries for most of the season, Chuck Pagano implored Floyd to anchor the team’s rush. He could not.
The Bears still have major questions on the offensive side of the ball, and many of them will be answered in the next month or so. But the moves they made yesterday fortified their organizational strength. The 2020 vintage of the Bears will be led by their defense, led by their pass rush. Because Quinn and Mack will be the most feared duo in the NFL.
It was a simple play.
On third-and-four, Dallas had running back Jamize Olawale sneak out of the backfield. He was open for a first down, very possibly a touchdown. Dak Prescott threw it but Olawale never looked. The play almost worked because Nick Kwiatkoski was late in coverage.
Andy Reid saw that play.
The Chiefs offensive guru ran something very similar two weeks later. On third-and-eight he swung a pass out to Damien Williams. Kwiatkoski late again. Touchdown.
As well as Kwiatkoski played last year, he was always going to have a fatal flaw and good offensive coaches were always going to attack him. That’s why Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears made the right call in keeping Danny Trevathan instead.
Reverend Dave and I first met Rick Pearson at the Billy Goat Tavern a bunch of years ago. Now, he’s family. He’s also one of the best political journalists in this country. He covers Chicago the way it demands to be covered. He’s dogged. He’s dubious. He’s one hell of a writer. But fuck all that. He introduced me to my favorite meal in the entire city: Nanna’s Gravy at Cafe Bionda in the South Loop. And that’s what matters.
DBB: I’m surprised I’ve never asked you this during a Billy Goat session, but where did you watch the Bears win the Super Bowl? What was that experience like in Chicago?
Pearson: Ah, but I wasn’t in Chicago then. I was the political editor of the Rockford Register Star, a city about 90 miles northwest of Chicago and a place with a large number of Green Bay Packer fans, given its proximity to the Wisconsin border.
That, of course, gave me a chance to gloat about everything Bears, everything Chicago and I celebrated by hosting a chili party. For someone who grew up during the Gale Sayers, Jack Concannon and Bobby Douglass era (when under Douglass the Bears’ greatest offense threat was pass interference by the other team), I wasn’t sure that I would see such a glorious team, a team for the ages that could back up its swagger on the field. And it was finally a chance to enjoy the success that the friendly(???) neighbors up north often enjoyed.
DBB: You are one of the best political journalists in the country. (Yea, I said it.) But we’re entering a dangerous period for American journalism. Hedge fund takeovers of newspapers. The Athletic buying up sports writers. What do you tell the 22 year-old journalism major at Northwestern or Loyola when they ask you for career advice? Where should they go?
Pearson: I appreciate your confidence but there are several others in political journalism that I look up to and from whom I’ve learned and offered respect. But yes, we are in a tumultuous time for newspapers and journalism as a whole and I do not know where it will lead.
It was difficult attending a Bernie Sanders rally in Grant Park the other day when one of the earlier speakers, a local university professor, brought up the Chicago Tribune as endangered by hedge-fund ownership. I didn’t expect my paper to become part of a rally for a democratic socialist, especially with the long history of the Tribune and its editorial board support for Republicans.
So what do I tell the journalism major? It’s been something I’ve been doing for the last decade. First, the rules of journalism are the same no matter where you are—print, broadcast, photo, video, blog, Twitter, podcast, you name it. You write the truth, you write the facts, you write what you know, you don’t embellish and if you can, you provide the “why.”
Free agency starts this week, so let’s take stock of where exactly the Bears’ roster is at. We’ll start by looking at who they currently have under contract, then move to the cap situation to get an idea of how much money they have to spend.
The table below shows a rough depth chart for the Bears based only on players who are currently under contract with the team. (disclaimer: these are accurate as of 9:00 am on Friday, March 13).
A few thoughts:
Everybody writes their “Free Agency Preview” – telling you what they think a particular franchise should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the off-season’s player acquisition period.
I’m not going to go too deep with cap hits or contract disputes. I’m just going to make a singular statement regarding each position group that sums up my thinking on that group. These are thoughts specifically about the coming weeks. Not the draft.
This position is entirely about Derek Carr.
Carr is a very good quarterback and will only be 29 years old this season. If the Bears trade for him, they will have stability at the position for the next several years and a player capable of taking them to a championship. Every other option (Dalton, Foles, Keenum) is capable of getting this team to the playoffs but would require something of a miracle run to win three playoff games.
Needless to say, what happens at this position over the next month will define the 2020 Bears.
I still like David Montgomery. I still like Tarik Cohen. Spending any significant money on running backs seems silly.
The focus here will be tight end and all eyes are on Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, with rumors of interest from Jacksonville, New England and about eleven other franchises. He’s going to make a lot of money in the coming days. And that money should not come from Chicago.
With the off-season set to begin, and the Chicago Bears seeking veteran competition, here is a ranking of the realistic options. For the sake of this argument, we’re assuming Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Cam Newton and Phil Rivers get starting gigs elsewhere.
Likely price: 2020 second round pick, three years of $20 million cap hits.
Carr is the best option. It isn’t even close.
While the Raiders haven’t won a lot of games in Carr’s time as the quarterback, they have regularly been in the top half of the league in passing yardage and touchdowns. Carr isn’t Patrick Mahomes, but he’s a good quarterback who may only become available because Jon Gruden’s favorite quarterback is always the one he doesn’t have on the roster.
The Raiders will likely only trade Carr if they’re able to sign someone to replace him.
Likely price: cap hits of $16-$22 million for three years.
There are three very huge selling points with Foles.
There is a general thought that if the Jaguars want to trade Foles, they’re going to have to sweeten the pot with a day two draft pick. The downside, of course, is that he’s going to get paid like a starter for at least one year with $12.5 million dead cap after 2020, should the team move on.
Foles’ other big downside is that he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. He’s definitely better suited to be a high-end backup than a 16-game starter. If he wins the job, could the Bears be confident turning back to Trubisky should Foles be injured?
Episode II in our series is a brief chat with JQ of the Q Brothers Collective. The Q Brothers are geniuses and their hip hop adaptations of classic works have been killing it with audiences for decades. Othello: The Remix. Q Gents. Q Brothers Christmas Carol. The Bomb-itty of Errors. All brilliant. Ever since he cold-emailed me years ago, he’s become one of my favorite people on the planet and a solid drinking partner. (Hell, he’s been to Josie Woods!) One day we’ll work together on something that goes up on a stage. One day.
DBB: The Q Brothers are a theatrical institution but you’re constantly on-stage when the Bears play. Does the score ever creep in your mind when performing?
JQ: I usually keep my phone on mute and streaming live backstage. If I have an opportunity to freestyle and update the audience on the score, they really appreciate it. That said, if the Bears are getting crushed I usually just turn it off because I don’t want it to negatively affect the performance.
DBB: Your family’s pharmacy – Merz Apothecary – is one of the coolest fucking stores in the world. Is there a homeopathic remedy (non-booze) to handle a Chicago Bears loss?
JQ: According to the famous European herbalist and author Maria Treben – who wrote “Health Through God’s Pharmacy” (translated into 20+ languages) – we work off disappointment through the kidneys and one of the best for kidney health is goldenrod. So you could make some tea out of that I suppose. I also recommend reminding yourself that it’s football and we’re lucky to have the luxury of caring about stuff like that.