No playoffs again for the Chicago Bears in 2013, the sixth time in the last seven years. They went 10-6 last year, missed the playoffs and finished 3rd in the NFC North. This season they were 8-8, and ended up in 2nd.
Both seasons they were behind the Green Bay Packers, and the Pack made the playoffs in 6 of the last 7 years.
Chicago GM Phil Emery still has a ways to go to bridge the talent gap between his team and Green Bay.
The two game fall off from 2012 is obviously concerning, but remember that when Lovie Smith took over the Bears in 2004 his team had a similar two game drop in winning only five games after Dick Jauron led them to seven. The next two years for Lovie; Consecutive NFC North titles, and a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Sometimes a team has to take a step back, before moving forward.
Phil Emery is already hard at work on the 2014 season, with his re-signing of Jay Cutler, Matt Slauson, and Tim Jennings, he has identified three key players moving forward. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months, we'll have a clearer idea on how the 2014 roster will shape up.
Here's how the NFL has laid out the 2014 calender.
Mock Draft season will really get going on January 18th when the East West Shrine Game will be played. The Senior Bowl will be the following weekend on January 25th.
No doubt Bears fans will have their eyes on the defensive players in those games. Phil Emery is on record saying that he needs to draft on that side of the ball.
A 24 hour claiming period will be in effect through the Friday prior to the last regular season game (waivers requests made on Friday and Saturday of each week will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the following Monday.) Players with at least four previous pension credited seasons whom a club desires to terminate are not subject to the waiver system until after the trading deadline.
February 17th is the first day teams can use their franchise or transition tags. The tagging period ends on March 3rd at 4 PM Eastern.
Draftniks will be watching the NFL Combine from February 19-25.
We'll have the full combine list once it's revealed, and plenty of player profiles leading up to the actual draft. Also be sure to check out our Fanpost section, as we have a number of knowledgeable WCG members that share their thoughts with us.
Who are some college players you are looking forward to watching at the combine?
From March 8th through the 11th, teams can negotiate with their own players that have contracts expiring. No deal can be announced until March 11th at 4 PM Eastern.
March 11th is the day the new year begins for the NFL, so here's the full run down for that day.
March 11 -- Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts.
March 11 -- Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 11 -- Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2013 contracts and who have fewer than three Accrued Seasons of free agency credit.
March 11 -- Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2014 Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 11 -- All 2013 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 11 -- The 2014 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
The first day of the 2014 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 11. clubs will receive a Personnel Notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
March 11 -- Trading period for 2014 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2013 contracts.
The Annual Owners Meeting will take place in Orlando, Florida on March 23-26.
Since the Bears are returning their head coach, they can begin their off season workouts on April 21st. Teams with a new coaching regime can start on April 7th.
May 2nd is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign their offer sheets, and May 7th is the deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
The NFL Draft will kick off on May 8th at 7 pm Chicago time, and run through May 10th. The Chicago Bears pick 14th in the first round.
There will be a lot of rumors floating around about the Bears' off season, so be sure to keep Windy City Gridiron bookmarked for all your breaking news. We'll have plenty of NFL draft nuggets, we'll tackle free agency with the fury of Dick Butkus, and we'll be on top on any coaching staff tweaks.
What are you most looking forward to this off season?
And how about dropping some off season predictions in the comment thread...
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