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Bears Mailbag: Potential Cody Whitehair extension, could JaDeveon Clowney be an option and more Mitchell Trubisky talk

It’s another loaded installment of the Windy City Gridiron mailbag. So open it up, strap it down and get to reading!

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

We finally had preseason football last Thursday night and while it’s not the regular season, it is still great to have football back. We are also officially three weeks away from the Chicago Bears kicking off the 2019 season on Thursday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers.

Despite only being one game into the preseason, it feels like things are moving right along. The good news? The season is getting close. The bad news? We still have to get through a trio of preseason weeks, in which we aren’t likely to see much of the starters. Even so, it’s sure good to have football back. It’s also nice to be answering questions about situations that are actively happening and not so much about hypotheticals. Hold on football fans, the NFL season is right around the corner.

There’s been very little smoke to any sort of Cody Whitehair extension, but if you can remember, that’s a pretty common way for general manager Ryan Pace to operate before the start of the season.

There was plenty of talk about this exact topic at the start of the year, but it’s also possible the Bears could be waiting for everything to settle out in terms of potential cap moves, etc before officially signing the deal.

My guess is that they have parameters agreed to and are simply waiting to make it happen. Similar things happened with Eddie Goldman last year. Pace usually makes his internal moves right about the time cut downs come along, so expect news in about two or so weeks. Regardless, I don’t see Whitehair going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure there’s any harm in checking in on JaDeveon Clowney, but it would be near impossible for the Bears to make that type of move. Not only will Clowney be expensive on a long-term deal, they are already paying Khalil Mack. Couple that with the fact that Clowney can’t sign a long-term deal until the off-season due to the franchise tag deadline, it’s going to make it hard for Houston to get a quality compensation for him.

As ideal as it would be to have someone like Clowney lining up next to Mack, it’s not overly realistic due to the team’s cap situation. I wouldn’t be holding my breath for any situation like this to actually happen in regards to the Bears.

This has been a hot topic over the course of training camp. Mitchell Trubisky has had somewhat of an uneven camp, but despite anything the coaches say, this continues to be a bigger storyline than it should. At least, in my opinion.

This time last year, there were articles being published about how some in Kansas City were doubting if Patrick Mahomes was ready to be the team’s starting quarterback. He finished as the league’s MVP. So, that’s worth keeping in mind. This also doesn’t mean anyone should be expecting an MVP level season from Trubisky. This simply provides some added perspective to how useless training camp and preseason speculation can be.

As far as evaluating Trubisky’s camp, I think it’s almost impossible to do. We have no clue what the coaches are asking him to do. We also don’t know what type of mechanical tweaks he’s trying out. On top of all of that, we don’t know the design of new plays and what the purpose of Trubisky making certain throws, actually is.

At this point, we have to trust what the coaching staff is telling fans. The message has been that he’s making good progress and that they are very happy with where he’s at. We aren’t going to learn anything during the preseason. So realistically, this isn’t a question that is going anywhere until we enter the regular season next month. Either way, I wouldn’t be too concerned until we see exactly where the third-year quarter is at.

Early this off-season, Pace specifically said that he expects backup quarterback Chase Daniel to be around “for a while”. Now, some thought that may have meant an extension to help relieve some cap space for 2019. That was clearly not the case.

With that in mind, I tend to believe that the Bears value his work with Trubisky and overall leadership ability enough to keep him around past 2019. When will an extension come? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t exactly rule out something before the start of the regular season.

Even so, I wouldn’t mind the Bears trying to take a shot on a young arm in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. The issue is, they will still have minimal top-end draft capital in 2020. At least as of now. So this may be a process that will have to wait at least another year.

Either way, I don’t think Daniel is going anywhere.

Despite some people saying they weren’t surprised by the move, I was. So, I’m right there with you. Back in late April, Emanuel Hall was considered one of the best undrafted free agent signings. A few short months and not many practices later, he’s out the door. As of Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had claimed him through waivers.

I’ll openly admit, I thought Hall had a future in Chicago. Even if it took a year or two for him to develop a full route tree and true value in head coach Matt Nagy’s system. Yet, he was cut just days after the first preseason game.

This leads me to believe that there was more to the story than simply a “numbers game” like Nagy claimed it to be on Tuesday. Whether or not it was something to do with his locker room presence or simply not grasping the offense, I don’t know. The fact they didn’t waive him with an injury designation, tells me health wasn’t an immediate concern. It doesn’t mean it didn’t play a factor, but this wasn’t a “let’s stash him on Injured Reserve” type move.

I wish Hall all the success in the world, but his pre-draft reviews from his own coaches at Missouri were enough of a concern to force him to go from a projected third-round pick to undrafted. So there’s clearly more to the story that we may never know.

I would bet a sizable sum of money that Tarik Cohen will see more snaps out wide or in the slot than he will as a traditional running back. Don’t get me wrong, Cohen is a weapon out of the backfield, but they’ll have plenty of options in front him as traditional “three down” options. Plus, Cohen’s hands are far too good to keep him confined in the backfield.

I expect the third-year player to be a huge part of the offense again in 2019, but I think the majority of his production will come from the receiver position. We’ve seen stranger things happen, but I expect rookie David Montgomery to quickly become the “primary” back in this offense.

As most probably know by now, I have not been at camp this year. With that being said, I’ve still got plenty of people I get updates from and all have pretty much said the same thing. Dax Raymond has been non-existent. I’m not sure what that is, but as we’ve seen with the Hall situation, sometimes highly touted undrafted free agents, went undrafted for a reason and they don’t translate well to the NFL level.

That doesn’t mean that Raymond doesn’t have a future in the NFL, but it’s hard to see anything coming of his rookie year, especially on the 53-man roster.

One player that has flashed quite a bit? Ian Bunting. Not only has he had a strong camp (per multiple reports), he had a pretty damn good preseason game. Despite the up and down performance.

I’m not sure if the Bears will carry four or five tight ends, but Bunting is firmly in the competition to win that final tight end spot. Raymond on the other hand? Likely a practice squad candidate.

Maybe it was just me, but in last Thursday’s game, Kerrith Whyte looked noticeably quicker and better all around than Ryan Nall.

By nature, I know that Nall will always be a fan favorite, but I’m not sure he offers anything that Whyte can’t right now. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see Nall go on the practice squad again. That also doesn’t mean that Whyte is a lock to make the roster, despite being a seventh-round pick.

Ultimately, I think the final running skill position spot comes down between receiver Marvin Hall, Whyte and Nall. As of now, I think Hall has the lead, but there’s still three games to be played. So a lot can change over the next two calendar weeks.