Chicago Bears March Scouting Report
An already frustrating offseason for Bears fans has only gotten worse in the past month. Let's get right to the gory details...
QB Andy Dalton. In an offseason where most everyone assumed that GM Ryan Pace would do something dramatic to fix the quarterback position in order to save his job, Andy Dalton is all he has to show for his efforts right now. I guess Peter King was right when he recently said that, barring a miracle, the Bears were screwed at quarterback. Bears fans believed in miracles for a few weeks after Seattle QB Russell Wilson put Chicago on a list of four teams that he'd be willing to be traded to, and according to recent reports, Pace offered the moon to Seahawks GM John Schneider. I can only imagine how much Pace got on his knees and begged Schneider to send Wilson to Chicago.
When Schneider said no (for now), Pace was left with few options and picked the redhead, causing many Bears fans to react with a level of vitriol rarely seen around these parts. If there wasn't a pandemic still going on, they'd be lining up at Halas Hall with pitchforks. Then again, what else could Pace do? Sign Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor or Alex Smith? Offer the entire roster for Deshaun Watson, who may or may not be available and suddenly finds himself waist deep in lawsuits? Trade for Marcus Mariota? Give QB Nick Foles another shot at starting? Run it back with QB Mitch Trubisky? None of those were viable long term solutions, though a year of Fitzmagic could've been fu. Gardner Minshew is intriguing (and he could be a folk hero here with that mustache of his), but the Jaguars apparently aren't willing to trade him just yet. Of course, Pace brought all this on himself by picking the wrong quarterback four years ago. When people say that missing on a quarterback with a high pick sets you back years, this nightmare that the Bears find themselves in right now is what they're talking about. Trubisky signed a one-year deal with the Bills.
In terms of Dalton himself, I think he was probably the best of the available free agents and at least has played at a high level in the past. He's also had some success with OC Bill Lazor, who was his quarterbacks coach and OC for a few years in Cincy (though Foles' previous success with Bears offensive coaches didn't help him much last season). Given adequate protection, a solid running game and enough weapons on the outside, he can be ok. But just ok is not ok for this fan base right now, and hopefully it isn't ok for Pace either. ESPN's Adam Schefter thinks that the possibility of Wilson being traded could be revisited on draft day. If Pace can't get Schneider to change his mind by then, then I think there's a very high possibility that the Bears will trade up and try to get one of the top quarterback prospects who might drop like Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones. The feeling here is that the Bears just can't go into the 2021 season with only Dalton and Foles.
No news here.
As expected, the Bears franchise tagged WR Allen Robinson, and he signed the tender late last week. This gives Chicago more time to potentially sign him to a long-term deal, though obviously it isn't likely. WR Anthony Miller is on the trading block according to reports, which is not surprising. What was surprising was that the Bears apparently went hard after free agent WR Kenny Golladay, offering a one-year deal in the $11-12 million range to pair him with Robinson and form the team's best dynamic duo since Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Add WR Darnell Mooney in the slot, and you might have something there. Alas, Golladay signed a four-year deal with the G-Men (and for $72 million, you can't blame the guy). The fact that the Bears tried hard to sign him seems to indicate a potential shift to investing more in the offense at the expense of the defense, as we'll see later in this report.
The most notable development at this position is what has not happened, the expected release of TE Jimmy Graham. He is still very much here and said last month that he hopes to finish his career in Chicago.
As expected, the team cut RT Bobby Massie and gained $5.4 million in cap space in the process. OL Germain Ifedi was re-signed to a one-year deal and should be in the mix to start at right tackle, though many expect the Bears to draft one in the first round (if they still have their first-rounder by the time they're on the clock).
As expected, the Bears cut nickel CB Buster Skrine earlier this month. What many did not expect was that the team released CB Kyle Fuller, their #1 corner, last week. Because Chicago restructured his contract a couple years ago to create some cap space at the time, his cap hit for this year ballooned to $20 million, and apparently that was too much. Fuller was great in run support with some bone-crunching hits but had just one INT last season and often gave receivers too big of a cushion for my liking. The Bears signed free agent CB Desmond Trufant to replace Fuller. It's obviously a downgrade, but what else can you say? Cap space (or lack thereof) is a problem for most teams in the league right now. Cutting Fuller also shows that the team must be very high on CB Jaylon Johnson despite his injury history. The team still needs to make decisions about who will play nickel corner and who will start at safety next to S Eddie Jackson. S Deon Bush could be one candidate, as he was brought back on a one-year contract.
DT Akiem Hicks was on the trading block last week, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune says that Hicks now will likely stay put. He is such a leader and big personality on that defense that it would be very difficult to lose him. DL Mario Edwards was re-signed to a three-year deal. He played well in a reserve role last season but had a misdemeanor assault charge and will also miss the first two games of the 2021 season due to a PED suspension. The Bears also signed free agent DL Angelo Blackson to a one-year deal, while DL Roy Robertson-Harris and DL Brent Urban left for the Jaguars and Cowboys, respectively. Free agent OLB Jeremiah Attaochu signed a two-year deal with the Bears yesterday.
The Bears signed PK Cairo Santos to a five-year, $16 million extension earlier this month, rewarding him for his stellar 2020 season.
More to come on the NFL Draft next month!
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