As the Chicago Bears held their first veteran voluntary minicamp under new head coach Matt Nagy, one of the off-season’s biggest rumors was put to rest.
Running back Jordan Howard informed the media that the team had no intentions of trading him. Howard had been the subject of numerous trade rumors regarding wide receiver Jarvis Landry and possibly being traded for draft picks.
Running back Jordan Howard tells media that #Bears told his agent they have no plans to trade him.
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) April 17, 2018
Many believed that even with Howard’s high-level of productivity in his first two seasons made him untouchable for a trade. In his rookie season, Howard finished second in the league for rushing yards, was named to the Pro Bowl, and broke several of the team’s rookie rushing records.
Last season, even with opposing defenses loading the box against him, he still managed to rush for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns.
The reason why many questioned Howard’s role in Nagy’s offense is due in part to the offense relying heavily on pass-catching running backs. One of Howard’s biggest weaknesses in his first two season has been his inability to catch the football on a consistent. Howard has even reached out to current Kansas City Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt in regards to what to expect from coach Nagy.
Nagy after practice reaffirmed that Howard was indeed going to be the team’s feature back.
“Absolutely, yeah,” Nagy said via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “That’s the beauty right now of where we’re at. We’re very strong at that position. To have (Tarik) Cohen there as well, you’re seeing all these teams that are out there right now, they’re going with multiple backs. So to sit here and say a feature back? Yeah, he’s going to be the guy that lines up and gets the ball. But at the same time, we’re crazy if we use one back. That’s not going to happen. We’re going to use multiple backs.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the team had traded a quality player due to not fitting a coach’s scheme.
In 2011 the team traded tight end Greg Olsen because there was no use for him in Mike Martz offensive game plan. Olsen was traded to the Carolina Panthers and went on to be a Pro-Bowl tight end for several years. Martz was fired following the 2011 season, and the team had issues at the position for several years after.
The trade rumors were heavily questioned and drew harsh criticism as the consensus opinion was that it would create another hole that a team rebuilding would have to fill. Fans went as far as to assume a trade of Howard was inevitable because he had removed all pictures pertaining to the Bears from his Instagram page, which today he stated meant nothing.
Having the trade rumors put to rest at this point is key because it now allows Howard and rest of veterans to solely focus on learning the new playbook. It also limits the outside distractions and minimizes the risk of the team’s star running back mentality being poor for the first year of a rookie head coach’s tenure. Trade rumors are apart of NFL daily life, many teams will welcome the uncertainty to gain an edge over their opponents, but it speaks volumes positively when an organization stands by one of their best players.