Bears Open their Checkbook and Little Black Book for Free Agent Signings

March 3, 2010


As the NFL Free Agent signing period begins on Friday, let’s take a quick look at the Chicago Bears’ [sarcasm] remarkable successes recognizing and nurturing free agent talent while compensating them fairly [/sarcasm].

In Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith’s tenure there has been one over-arching acquisition trend: The coaching staff hiring athletes that used to play in “their system” who turn out to be no good at all.  (Highlighted in orange are some good transactions.  Note the lack of orange.)

Let’s take a look at some of their transactions since 2007…

2007
DT – Anthony Adams
S – Adam Archuleta *cut* *retired* (Former Ram (01-05) player for Lovie Smith and Gil Byrd)
DT – Darwin Walker *retired* (Former Eagle player for ST Coach Dave Toub)
DT – Matt Toeaina

2008
RB – Kevin Jones *perennially injured* (Former Lion player for Rod Marinelli)
WR – Devin Aromashodu (Former Colt player for Tony Dungy)
WR – Brandon Lloyd *cut* (Former 49er WR during QB Coach Pep Hamilton’s tenure)
WR – Marty Booker *traded away in ’06 – re-signed in ’08 – cut in ’09* (Former Bear player for Lovie Smith)

2009
Asst Head Coach / DL Coach – Rod Marinelli *0-16* (Former Buc coach with Lovie Smith)
TE – Michael Gaines *cut to make room for Gaines Adams* (former Lion player for Rod Marinelli)
DE – Gaines Adams *traded for 2010 2nd round draft pick, deceased* (former Buc player for Jon Gruden)
OLB – Tina Pisaismioa *injured in quarter 1, game 1* (former Ram player for Lovie Smith and Bob Babich)
T – Orlando Pace *waived March 2010* (played for Rams during Smith/Babich tenure)
QB – Brett Bassonez (played for Northwestern during coach Eric Washington’s tenure)
QB – Jay Cutler
G – Frank Omiyale
T – Kevin Shaffer
CB Coach – John Hoke (Former Missouri coach with Dave Toub, Harry Hiestand and Chris Tabor, ties to Lovie Smith)
S – Josh Bullokcs *benched*
DB – Glenn Earl (former player for DB Coach Jon Hoke)
LB – Cato June *signed then cut within 2 weeks* (Former Colt player for Tony Dungy)
CB – Rod Hood *signed 9/1/09, waived 9/4/09*

Senior Director of Pro Personnel Bobby Depaul *fired*

———————————————————————–

March 5th Update.

Wow.  Twelve hours into the free agent market the Bears (who lack any real draft picks this year) snagged Panthers’ Defensive End Julius Peppers, Vikes’ Running Back Chester Taylor, and Rams’ TE Brandon Manumaleuna.  So… if you’re keeping score… the trend really hasn’t changed, hopefully the outcome will.

2010 (To Be Continued…)
Offensive Line Coach – Mike Tice
Offensive Coordinator – Mike Martz (former Rams coach with Lovie Smith)
DE – Julius Peppers
RB – Chester Taylor (former Vikings player for Mike Tice)
TE – Brandon Manumaleuna (former Rams player for Mike Martz)

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Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears, and Scratch-Off Tickets

April 19, 2009

The completely unexpected happened a few weeks ago.  Because I’ve been slacking, I haven’t  posted anything, but, after all my bear-bashing, I’m about to eat my words and enjoy it.

Photo from Blog Down Chicago Bears

The oft-criticized Chicago Bear front office pulled off what amounts to the most important personnel move in my personal history with the team, and perhaps the biggest move in Bears history.

Though other franchises make blockbuster moves and offer ridiculous contracts nearly every off-season (Hi Jets! Cowboys! Redskins!), the Bears are traditionally a stoic, staunch, and slow-moving franchise.  Instead of grabbing hot free agents every year, the Bears opt to reward their core players with generous contract re-signings…  regrettably, as the cornerstones of the defense proved last year, sometimes that’s not the best idea (see: #21).

All that was blown out of the water earlier this week.

Bears fans have had nearly enough of GM Jerry Angelo’s big talk with no follow-through, while Lovie Smith’s unnerving poker face press responses further aggravated fans.  Meanwhile in Colorado, Jay Cutler, former Midwest-born Bears fan and 25 yearr-old Pro Bowl quarterback, was refusing to answer the phonecalls of his team, the Denver Broncos.  Cutler was rightfully peeved — the Broncos’ new sherrif in town, Josh McDaniels, had made no secret of the fact he was not interested in having Cutler under center during the 2009 season.  McDaniels had an inexplicable man-crush on a Patriots backup QB.

Photo from Football Nation

This was the highest-profile trade in recent memory and the Bears, somehow, fended off a HUGE amount of competition to lock up what could wind up solidifying the always-iffy Bears QB position.  A gutsy move that could feasibly solve the perennial Chicago QB problem for the next decade-plus.  Imagine not worrying about this issue again until after we host the Olympics!  Ha.

But there are always naysayers… here are the biggest complaints which I will swiftly refute:

Naysayer #1: “Jay Cutler is a good QB but he doesn’t have anyone to throw to”

  • Aside from the fact that the Bears have two solid tigh ends and one the best pass-catching backs in the league, I get the point — the Bears wide receiving corp(se) is  the worst in the league.  But, as my pal Jimmy pointed out, good quarterbacks create better receivers.  Good receivers don’t make great QBs.
  • Note how unimpressive past Packer wideouts become after they leave a team that had  Brett Favre throwing to them. Note how well Randy Moss fared in Oakland without a decent signal caller under center.  Note how well the pass-happy Eagles threw this year without any real stars at the position.  Note how Wes Welker played on the Dolphins compared to how well he’s played in New England.
  • Also worth mentioning: the Bears are sure to make some moves post-draft.  Aside from the draft itself, there are plenty of veteran wide receivers to pick up… Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, The Foot-Shooter to name a few.  Granted two of those three athletes are past their prime, but they’re still  serviceable, savvy, smart, possession players.

Naysayer #2: “The Bears gave up too much to get Cutler”

  • To lock-up Cutler, the Bears gave up two first-round picks, an additional pick, and their starting QB, Kyle Orton.  On paper, this looks like a pretty steep cost.  But for anyone that’s followed the history of Chicago drafts, this is a great move.  Long-story short, the Bears DO NOT draft offensive players well… or develop them well. Trading away what might be for what already is makes perfect sense.
  • Think about it like this:  Some guy (probably in a trenchcoat) approaches you on the street… let’s call him… ummm,  Josh McDaniels.  He has five-hundred dollars neatly stacked in a pile and wants to trade you for your two “Win a Million” scratch-off lottery tickets.  Mr McDaniels (who is obviously clinically insane) would rather have your two scratch-offs than his cold, hard cash.  He’ll trade you his liquid assets for two of your unscratched lottery tickets.  Sure, your tickets might be worth lots too, but your name is McCaskey and your family has never had much luck in the lottery.  WHY DO YOU NOT AGREE TO THIS TRADE?
  • Appendix: Here are the Bears’ 1st round offensive skill position picks since 1988: Greg Olsen, Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman, David Terrell, Cade McNown, Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Conway, Brad Muster, and Wendell Davis.  It’s pretty evident you’ve been squandering them anyway, why not give them away for something tangible? Tangible and fucking awesome btw.

Naysayer #3: “Kyle Orton is the future”

  • K.O., god love him, is a solid QB, and may still wind up being a fantastic player.  But look at the facts: He is not a Pro Bowler,  Cutler is.  He isn’t 13-1 when the defense allows less than 22 points, which Cutler was last year (fyi — Bears avg points allowed last year: 21.9).  Lastly, Orton’s lack of arm strength nullified the speed that “#1” receiver Devin Hester possesses; while the words “Cutler”, “canon”, and “lazer” often appear in the same sentence.
  • It’s Science:
  • Note how "canon" spikes when Jay Cutler news spikes.

I’m thrilled to see what happens this season.  And if Cutler is a bust — so be it.  I don’t think Chicago would have ever forgiven the franchise for not pursing an all-star QB that was within their grasp, so I commend the Bears for making a huge, and long-awaited move.  I’ve never anticipated a season more than I have this off-season.  I wish it started tomorrow.