clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Was the Chicago Bears offseason not as good as we thought?

NFL: Chicago Bears-Minicamp Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Senior Writer Mike Sando recently released his annual offseason grades after speaking with more than a dozen NFL executives. I was just waiting for the anonymous kudos to fly around for the Chicago Bears, but most of the execs that Sando quoted were negative.

To be fair, this is still a team coming off a fourth consecutive sub five-hundred season, so it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows.

Even though it seems like we’ve only spotlighted the positive for the Bears these last few months, we’ve also hit on some of the negative. Even though it’s more fun to take the glass-hall full approach, finding a good balance in our coverage brings about some good conversation with you guys.

Recently we’ve talked about what holes still could remain for this team heading into camp. We’ve talked about some possible offensive line concerns, and some concerns with the cornerbacks.

Sando’s ESPN Insider article does raise some valid concerns, but there’s an argument to be made on the Bears’ behalf.

Here’s what he wrote.

This Bears offseason comes down to whether Matt Nagy is the right choice as head coach. Most execs liked the decision to select Roquan Smith eighth overall, despite some concerns over positional value for a 3-4 inside linebacker that early. They were less thrilled about the offensive skill players Chicago added in free agency. They loved the decision to use the transition tag for cornerback Kyle Fuller despite some questions about the price paid.

I find it interesting that the executives polled liked the transition tag being placed on Kyle Fuller, because some members of the media tried to spin it like it was a bad decision. I thought it was good move from the start, and even though the contract structure was weird, they had to get Fuller back in the fold.

”Chicago is a possible A grade for me,” an exec said. “Nagy has a good mind, he’s a leader, he is gregarious, he is everything you are going to want in a head coach. They brought in players who fit what he wants to do, with the only real bad contract being the Taylor Gabriel one.”

The 5-foot-8 Gabriel signed for $6.5 million per year, with $14 million guaranteed. One exec predicted Gabriel will have a harder time producing late in the season as weather and field conditions worsen. He thought Gabriel belonged on a team with an indoor stadium.

The Gabriel signing was because his skill set matched a specific need that the Matt Nagy offense had. Gabriel will play the Zebra position for the Bears, and when Nagy was with the Chiefs his Zebra was another smallish, but speedy receiver, the 5’10” Tyreek Hill. The structure of the contract gives the Bears an easy out after two years, and the length lines up with rookie Anthony Miller’s four-year contract. If Miller proves to be all that, then he’ll likely get some of the money that was allocated to Gabriel.

And I don’t buy the field condition crap because teams still throw the ball in the snow. Last year, Kansas City’s Hill averaged 5 receptions and 114 yards in four December games. I’m not saying Gabriel is going to be Hill, I’m just pointing out an offensive parallel.

”And then on Fuller, a year ago, they were trying to trade him,” this exec said. “Now he is worth $14 million? Using the transition tag was brilliant -- it was the only way they were going to sign him -- but teams just don’t have financial discipline. They’re scared.”

Things change fast in the NFL. In 2016 Fuller’s knee injury kept him sidelined, but last year he made the most of his opportunities.

One exec said he’d rather be Chicago than Buffalo based on how the teams are set up, but even if the Bears are in a better spot, are they better than fourth in the NFC North this season?

Who wouldn’t rather be in Chicago over Buffalo? And the NFC North is a tough division, and the Bears could very well end up in last place, but still be much improved.

”I don’t know if I would jump on the Bears bandwagon so fast,” an evaluator said. “The guard situation scares the heck out of me with Kyle Long unsure. You have Allen Robinson coming off injury, Leonard Floyd coming off injury, Kyle Long coming off injury, and then I’m not sure they have the DBs to cover the receivers in that division. I think they are still the fourth team in the NFC North.”

Missing any of their key players would be a big blow, but as of right now, reports have Kyle Long, Allen Robinson, and Leonard Floyd all on target for the regular season.

Are you guys buying what these execs are selling?