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Bears mailbag: Leonard Floyd’s and Jordan Howard’s future, Mack’s status and much more.

This week we take a look at potential trades and the what the future holds for a 4-3 Bears team.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the week again. Another week in the NFL season and another week of Chicago Bears questions.

The Bears are coming off a 24-10 victory and have a real chance to reach 5-3 with a win at Buffalo on Sunday. Even so, there’s plenty of questions to be answered before Sunday’s game, so let’s get to it.

To this point, I’ve seen nothing from either player to have that impact a decision on what I would do with Leonard Floyd in the off-season. Aaron Lynch has been solid at times but ultimately, they aren’t getting enough out of the edge rushers without Khalil Mack.

It’s quite possible that general manager Ryan Pace and company could decide to cut bait with Floyd in the off-season and recoup picks but the Bears are bound to have more than one hole with Adrian Amos, Bryce Callahan, Bobby Massie and Lynch all set to be free agents in the off-season.

It’s also likely that the Bears will only be operating on about $25 million or so in cap space, with no picks before the third round. This is all worth keeping in mind when talking about trading current starting players and then expecting them to fill those holes with better players.

This is going to be a limited off-season in terms of resources and I can’t see Floyd fetching much more than a low third round pick at this point.

As we’ve seen for the majority of the year, the usage of offensive weapons in this offense is going to change on a weekly basis. Head coach Matt Nagy has said that he wants to get the running game move involved and I believe him when he says that. The problem is, even with Jordan Howard’s best game of the season, he’s averaging just 3.5 yards-per-carry and still not getting great blocking up front.

As the weather gets colder and it becomes harder to pass the ball, the Bears are going to need a reliable run game. As fun as Tarik Cohen is, he’s not someone I want running the ball 20-plus time per game at 5’6”. So by default, I would expect Howard’s usage to continue to grow, or at least stay somewhat level from his 22 carries last Sunday.

It’s becoming quite evident that the offensive staff feels more comfortable with the veteran in Josh Bellamy over Kevin White or Javon Wims. It’s crazy to believe but Bellamy actually led all Bears receivers with 83% of snaps. It backs up what Nagy has talked about with Bellamy’s value being able to play all three positions and his knowledge of the offense ranging back to his days in Kansas City.

As far as Marcus Cooper and Dion Sims, I’m a little confused on Cooper as well.

Cooper didn’t play well in the preseason but they opted to keep him and because of that, his $1.5 million contract is fully guaranteed with him being on the Week 1 roster.

As far as Sims goes, it’s a similar situation. His $6.33 million for 2018 is fully guaranteed and on top of that, Adam Shaheen’s injury has kept him playing more snaps than he likely would have before the injury. Sims still has value as a blocker but as we’ve seen for a year and half, he’s terrible as a pass catcher. I’d fully expect he and his $6.33 million cap hit for 2019 to be cut early in the off-season. It would save them a full $6 million.

This is a question that came up multiple times this week.

Right now (with no practice reports), I’d lean towards him sitting another week. The same with Allen Robinson. Nagy said that the opponent had nothing to do with their decision, yet he also said earlier in the week that both players felt about the same as they did in the week previous when they played against the New England Patriots.

The reality of the situation is quite simple. The Bears felt comfortable enough sitting both players due to their ability to win the game against a lesser opponent and that likely doesn’t change this week. Now obviously, if either player is healthy enough to play, it could change things. But my early guess is that they’ll sit both players and get them ready for their three game stretch of divisional opponents in 11 days coming up starting Week 10.

Absolutely not. Not only that but I think Mack’s presence gives the Bears a boost.

I know it’s tough to go back and watch their performances in Week 6 and 7 when Mack was hurt, but I think the defensive unit simply lacked energy and went through a bit of a down spell more than anything else.

Just to give you an idea, since Mack has been hurt, the Bears have got to the quarterback two times in three games. His impact on this defense is large and don’t let a poor two-game stretch make you feel differently.

Not very high at this point.

One would have to think if Pace wanted to improve his pass rush, he would have made a move for someone like Dante Fowler, Shane Ray or someone to that caliber at the deadline.

They have a superstar in Mack, a former top 10 pick in Floyd and a $4 million back up in Lynch. If they can’t find a way to get it done with them, I find it hard to believe that a street free agent that hasn’t had a ton of success or even interest as of late, would be a good answer.

To be completely honest, there’s only a few kickers I would feel comfortable with in big situations such as those. But no, Cody Parkey is not currently one of those.

To be completely fair, there’s currently nine starting kickers that have missed three or more field goals this year. So, it’s fair to say it’s been a down year for kickers. Even so, I think it’s important for some fans to remember that giving top money to a slightly above average kicker, doesn’t all of the sudden make him a better kicker.

My bigger concern with Parkey is what will happen as the weather continues to get worse. Luckily for the Bears, it’s become a league wide problem.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted on Tuesday that Kyle Long was expected to miss six to eight weeks with a foot injury. With that news, that obviously means that James Daniels is likely to keep his starting spot at left guard and I would fully assume that Eric Kush will slide over to right guard until Long gets back (assuming they don’t place him on IR).

Kush hasn’t played bad in his six starts this year, it was always just more about starting your second round guard over a 29-year-old journeyman that is set to be a free agent in March.

The biggest issue that Kush has had (in my opinion) has been his run blocking and with being on the right side, he’s more likely to tasked with that than he was on the left side. I don’t believe this will be a crushing blow by any means but this is why you have good depth at these positions.