Being Careful with Cap Space. And Other Points of View.
- Bears linebacker J.T. Thomas faces a misdemeanor charge after police in West Virginia said they caught him driving the wrong way down a one-way street and found marijuana in his car, according to the Associated Press.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“It seems unbelievably quiet at Halas Hall since Phil Emery‘s news conference. Do we have any sense for how his role and authority is developing compared to general managers like Ted Thompson, moves he’s considering on his staff, the timing of selecting directors of pro and college personnel now that Tim Ruskell is gone, etc.? I’m open-minded at this point but the silence seems strange. Surely they don’t think all that needed to be changed was the GM. Phil, Chicago
“You are right about Halas Hall being very quiet since Emery’s news conference. This is by design. Get used to it. The Bears have gone into lock-down mode in terms of dealing with the media and public. We have been told Emery will not speak at the scouting combine, though the large majority of NFL general managers do, and Jerry Angelo always did. We also have been told all other members of the front office and assistant coaches are now off limits to reporters all offseason. This is a new policy. The Bears don’t want us to know what they are doing or thinking because they believe it puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In my opinion, it is part of a decades-old NFL tradition of unreasonable paranoia. I can tell you Emery’s plan was to wait until after the draft to make any staff additions or changes.”
- Michael C. Wright doesn’t believe the offensive line needs help in the offseason.
- But at least Football Outsiders know what they are talking about:
“Chicago Bears: Most everyone has the Bears pegged to pursue wide receivers in free agency and/or the draft, and Outsiders doesn’t discount that possibility. But based on its analysis of the Bears’ 2011 season, offensive tackle should be the Bears’ top priority. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb allowed 10 sacks and was “among the worst [left tackles] in the league.” The Bears’ running game, meanwhile, was stuffed for a loss or no gain on 24.1 percent of its runs, a ‘catastrophic’ figure blamed mostly on poor run blocking. “
- They also have some suggestions for how to fill that need:
“Chicago Bears: Two offensive linemen to keep in mind at No. 19 overall are Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Ohio State’s Mike Adams. Both could conceivably play left tackle. “
- Here’s a line related question for Pompei:
“Does it look like Chris Williams will be in mix at guard? Will the Bears try to either draft or sign a free agent guard? Rick Mahomet, Illinois
“It’s too early to say definitively where Williams will line up in training camp. But if I had to bet, I’d say he’s going to be moved back to tackle. The Bears have enough good guards with Chris Spencer, Lance Louis, Edwin Williams and even Roberto Garza if they wanted to move him from center. They are more thin at tackle. Williams is a more natural tackle. If the Bears add an offensive lineman, it likely will be a tackle.”
If Williams moves to tackle, I’d say Frank Omiyale’s days with the team are numbered. I might also point out that there were rumblings about Williams moving to center last season.
- Should the Bears decide to go the free agent route, it looks like Arizona left tackle Levi Brown might be available at the right price to provide some competition at that spot. Via Pompei, this time at The National Football Post.
- ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert suggests that Randy Moss might be a good fit for Bears while at the same time squashing the idea.
- Former Moss teammate Cris Carter would appear to agree on both counts. He suggests that Moss would be a good fit via Biggs.
“I believe the best place for him is New England,” Carter said, according to SportsRadioInterviews.com. “Now I believe a team that might want to look at him is Chicago with Jay Cutler and Mike Tice because him and Mike Tice get along great. He has respect for Tice. Jay Cutler and Moss? I think they could work that out.”
- While at the same time telling you why he’s not:
““The one thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing. It’s not an age thing. It needs to be addressed. I believe it’s the elephant in the room. It’s that thing called quit.”
- Pompei suggests that Moss isn’t a good fit for anyone:
“The Bears — and 31 other teams — could have signed Randy Moss last year if they wanted him. They did not want him, and there are good reasons why. Moss is not the player he was, but he probably still is the pain in the can that he was. In a three-month span in 2010, Moss wore out his welcome with three teams. He still could run then, but has aged a year since. Moss is a player who is entirely reliant on speed. Once his speed goes, he offers nothing. And if his speed has not been compromised yet, it likely will be compromised soon, perhaps after a little wear and tear during a training camp. I doubt that new general manager Phil Emery would seriously consider Moss. I know new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who was Moss’ head coach in Minnesota, has some affection for him. But that does not mean Tice wants to coach the 35-year-old. I wouldn’t touch him.”
- Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune has Earl Bennett talking Super Bowl:
“If the New York Giants can get into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and win a Super Bowl, why can’t the Chicago Bears?
“‘Just get in the playoffs. Anything is possible,’ Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett said Monday night before accepting an honor at the 24th annual Comcast SportsNet Awards Dinner. ‘You’ve just got to continue to work hard and stay focused. Those (Giants) did a great job with doing that and they won a Super Bowl.’”
The Giants flat out have more talent than the Bears at almost every position.
- Here are former NFL safety Matt Bowen’s five keys to grading CB prospects. at The National Football Post.
- Devin Hester is featured in the latest NFL commercial:
- After showing a commendable amount of patience, the Vikings look like they are finally going to get their new stadium.
- Dan Pompei tells us the things he didn’t used to know for The National Football Post:
“Big mistake taking Ron Jaworski off Monday Night Football. Sad that TV thinks NFL viewers want to be entertained, but not educated and informed.”
- Looks like Seattle might be interested in Peyton Manning. Via Pompei.
- Pompei runs down some things to look for at the combine. Many Bears fans will want to pay attention to the wide receivers:
“How fast is Justin Blackmon? It has been widely accepted that the Oklahoma State receiver will be a top five pick. But he’s not a burner. If Blackmon runs a 4.6 40, it’s unlikely a team will be able to justify using a top five pick on him. There are a few other receivers who may be speed deficient who need to run well as well. Among them are Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Wisconsin’s Nick Toon, South Carolina’s Ashlon Jeffery and Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu.”
- Pompei also points out a problem that I’ve been noticing more and more lately:
“The NFL, it seems to me, has a problem on its hands: position coaches are being prevented from interviewing for promotions to coordinator positions like never before.”
“This is unfair to the coaches involved. In some cases, they are denied a once in a lifetime opportunity to double, triple or quadruple their salaries and set up their families’ futures. This can create serious resentment. Sometimes coaches don’t even know other teams were interested in them until well after the fact.”
“In addition to being bad for coaches, it’s also bad for the NFL. Why? Teams are not able to hire the most qualified coaches, and the quality of football ends up sacrificed.”
“How did it get to this point? Once upon a time, the NFL allowed teams to protect only one assistant on each side of the ball from interviewing for a promotion. Back in March of 2000 at an NFL meeting at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., that I attended, the league decided to do away with the so called “supervisory tag” system.”
I’d say the restriction needs to be re-implemented.
- Former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel at The National Football Post talks about why prospects generally choose to workout at the combine nowadays.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com comments upon the potential for an 18 game schedule:
“‘People want more football,’ [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that’s the concept we are talking about here.”
“Actually, the more accurate statement seems to be that the fans want less preseason and the same regular season. Only season-ticket holders endorse the prospect of fewer fake games and more real ones, for obvious reasons.”
I can only say that I totally agree with Goodell. I want more football and I’m pretty sure they can find a way to implement it while not seriously diluting the play on the field.
- Looks like the Lions are poised to get extremely lucky n the draft again. Football Outsiders has pegged their primary need as interior offensive line, a strength in this years draft that few other teams are likely to take advantage of in the early rounds.
- The Sports Pickle gives us the ten smartest athletes in sports. Surprisingly Albert Haynesworth made the list. Or perhaps not so surprisingly…:
“However, after Haynesworth’s very good season, he signed a $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. He then proceeded to sit on his fat ass and do nothing, knowing that $41 million of that contract was guaranteed money. Haynesworth is not a smart athlete. Haynesworth is a genius.”
One Final Thought
There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that teams can bring their free cap space forward from 2011 to 2012. According to Seifert, the Bears will get an extra 7.7 million which brings them to roughly $25 million below the cap. And I’m happy to see that the Bears are willing to spend some of it: Via Biggs:
“‘The bottom line, and Phil [Emery] knows this, if there is someone we want — and it makes sense — money is not going to be an issue,’ Bears Chairman George McCaskey said Wednesday after a concussion symposium for high school coaches and athletes at Halas Hall.”
But here’s hoping that the Bears do what McCaskey suggests and make sure that the signings do actually make sense. I’d hate to see the Bears simply blow the money because they can. Its wasteful and there are better uses for it.
For instance, it would be nice to see them take care of their own first. According to Biggs the Bears can lock up Matt Forte for the 2012 season starting tomorrow. That’s when the 15-day period to use the franchise tag starts. The period extends to 3 p.m. on March 5. Even if he is tendered, the team has until July 15 to work out a long term deal. After that, Forte could only play under the one-year tender.
Yes, I know. Running back is a punishing position and its a risk. But Forte is one of the few impact players the Bears have and as matter of principal those are the guys you want to wrap up and keep.
There is another consideration here. The Bears (wisely) want to become a draft-driven team. That means that they are going to be drafting prospects that we all hope will be impact players in the future. But if they don’t plan ahead, they could end up in the same bind the Lions are in. Scott Krinch at CSNChicago.com reminds us all that they they are in a load of cap trouble because they suddenly have a lot of high impact players from past drafts to deal out money to.
The Bears would be well advised to be careful in free agency. Instead, they should use their cap space by re-signing guys like Forte with front loaded contracts that leave them with a lot of cap space later. Under the circumstances, they might even go ahead and give in by extending Lance Briggs for a year and there are a number of players who have contracts running out at the end of next year as well. Long-term, dealing out relatively small amounts of money up front by extending these players will allow the Bears to sign future impact players that they will obtain through the draft to reasonable contracts without running into the cap trouble that the Lions currently are in.