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Expect the Chicago Bears to stay in the NFC North cellar through 2018

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

According to the annual ESPN NFL Future Power Rankings, we should expect the Chicago Bears to lag behind their NFC North counterparts the next three years.


What evs...

ESPN's panel of NFL experts, Louis Riddick, Mike Sando and Field Yates, are rating every team in five categories on a 1-100 scale. The five somewhat subjective categories are (1) roster (excluding quarterback), (2) quarterback, (3) draft, (4) front office and (5) coaching.They then averaged out each category and weighed them as so, roster (excluding QB) is 30%, QB is 20%, draft 15%, front office also 15% and coaching  is 20%.

The Bears ended up 21st in their future power rankings with an average score of 65.4. The Detroit Lions are tied for 19th (65.7), the Minnesota Vikings are 8th (77.1) and the Green Bay Packers checked in at number 5 (83.2).

Their NFL experts had the Bears improving in only two of the five categories when compared to last year, roster and quarterback. They had the Bears declining in coaching, front office and draft, and I think the ESPN Insiders are clueless.Sure it's only been two seasons, but I think general manager Ryan Pace has done a damn good job in both the draft and in free agency.

Here's what they had to say about the Bears,

High point: John Fox has held a head-coaching job on two occasions in the NFL before the Bears, and in each of his first two gigs, he saw a win increase of at least four games in Year 2. He is also one of just six NFL head coaches ever to guide multiple teams to a Super Bowl. He not only helps build programs up, he can navigate them to the ultimate game. -- Field Yates

If coaching is a high point, then how can they drop the Bears coaching category form last year? Did they hold Adam Gase, who is now head coach in Miami, in that high a regard? They still have Fox running the show, and he has a track record of losing assistants, replacing them and not missing a beat.

Low point: It is the second year in Chicago for the new regime of GM Ryan Pace and Fox, and they are totally retooling this roster. The clear goal: Get faster and more athletic on the offensive line and on defense. Just how good will second-round OL Cody Whitehair be at guard? How will first-round pass-rusher Leonard Floyd develop physically going forward? The answers to those questions -- and the play of key UFA signings like ILBs Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman -- will go a long way toward determining how much this roster improves. -- Louis Riddick

I guess you have to wait and see how these guys turn out, but on paper, and let's face it, this exercise is all about projections, the Bears had a Hell of a draft.

What could change: The Bears will have a decision to make with quarterback Jay Cutler following the 2016 season. They can keep him and pay $15 million cash with a $16 million salary-cap charge in 2017, or they can release him to save $14 million against the cap. The money Cutler will be making at that point is in line with what teams pay average veteran starters. Cutler could realistically remain the long-term starter in Chicago if the Bears think they can win with him, but if the team drafts a potential starter in the interim, a change at the position could also make sense. -- Mike Sando

Unless Cutler totally implodes this year, it makes no sense for the Bears to move on from him. He's solid and you can win with solid in the NFL. If the team around him is better, and it should be, he and the Bears will be fine.

What do you guys think? Are the Bears going to stay in the NFC North cellar for the next few years?