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Week 1 Bears Mailbag: A possible Allen Robinson extension, veteran free agent fits and much more

Week 1 is finally here and this week’s mailbag is packed to the brim with questions! Only thing left to do is crack is open and let us give you some answers.

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 is finally here and over at Windy City Gridiron we could not be happier that football is finally back!

Last week was whirlwind of news with training camp ending, rosters being cut down to 53 players and practice squads being set on Sunday afternoon. All in all, the Bears left very few surprises and for the most part, it was a pretty mellow final weekend without football.

With all the pre-Week 1 festivities out of the way, now we can get in to talking about actual football games. While it felt like at times that this moment would never come, we’ve made it and couldn’t be happier to watch the Chicago Bears get ready for their Week 1 match-up. All that being said, let’s dive into a packed Week 1 edition of the mailbag.

I figured we’d start this week’s mailbag off with a the hardest hitting question—and quite possibly the most disappointing answer— I received in this week’s mailbag.

As some of you know, I recently relocated to Texas and because of that, I’m stuck in an apartment. If that wasn’t bad enough, the leasing company recently created a no grilling rule. This means, absolutely nothing but disappointment will be on my (now put away) grill.

As for your second question, Bilal Nichols will get the first crack at the nose tackle job. They also have John Jenkins as depth and an overall bigger body. Nichols drew rave reviews in camp and is primed for a big season after a somewhat lackluster sophomore season which saw his expectations high and his production down. Especially with Roy Robertson-Harris becoming an unrestricted free agent at year’s end, this is a big year for Nichols to produce and also show off his versatility.

On Monday, general manager Ryan Pace spoke on the current cap situation and the generalized upcoming off-season plans. Within that he did not commit to Allen Robinson (or any other player for that matter), but he did say that they know how important Robinson is to this team, and they’ll have the needed flexibility to work deals, and do what they want to do in January and beyond.

With all of that being said, I’d say the chances of an extension getting done before Sunday’s game are pretty low. Pace also noted that in no way was Sunday any sort of deadline and did not rule out a possible in-season extension for the team’s top weapon.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the Bears can use the franchise tag on Robinson and I would assume if they can’t strike a deal next off-season, that’s exactly what they’ll do. At this point, we just have to hope it’s handled better than the Alshon Jeffery situation a few years back. Either way, I would expect Robinson back in 2021 in some way, shape or form.

Count me in on the confused party that is still waiting on the Bears and Robinson to agree to some sort of extension in the coming days, weeks or months. In the past, Pace has moved quickly in the final weeks leading up to Week 1, but as I said above, I don’t think that is in the cards this year with Robinson.

Sure, they can and likely will franchise tag Robinson in 2021 if a deal can’t be reached, but as we’ve seen with a multitude of extensions over the last week, the price for Robinson’s long-term services continue to jump up.

My guess is that the year average and guaranteed money may be close, but the money disbursement could be the larger issue here. I would assume the Bears are in a spot where they’d rather defer both cash and cap hit pressure down the road to 2022 and beyond, while Robinson may be looking for a higher cash flow up front.

In some ways, this feels like the Jeffery situation, but Pace can’t be ignorant enough to look at this offensive depth chart and think he can make his team better by not paying Robinson and allowing his best offensive player to walk.

Just think about it this way: Whether or not Mitchell Trubisky works out long-term, their quarterback is going to need a reliable weapon, capable of being a Top 10 caliber player at the position. They have that in Robinson. So even if Trubisky isn’t the guy and they draft a rookie next year, that quarterback will still need weapons.

Last week, I was asked if I foresaw any “surprise” cuts. I wasn’t sure there would be anything ground breaking, but the rapid departure of Kevin Toliver II was somewhat of a surprise given the team’s depth on the boundary at the position.

Is it possible that Pace is simply comfortable with Buster Skrine’s versatility on the outside and likes fifth-round rookie Kindle Vildor enough to trust him in a spot starting situation? Maybe so, but I still believe there’s a strong possibility the team could look to add a veteran after Week 1 and here is why. After Week 1, no salaries are guaranteed. That means if they signed someone like Prince Amukamara next week, they could essentially take his contract and status with the team on a week-to-week basis. Versus being hamstrung for another $1 or-so-million (on top of the $1 million in dead money he cost the team when they cut him earlier this year).

There’s still plenty of veteran bodies out there and needs can change in the blink of an eye. While they may not sign one before Week 1, I would not rule out the possibility moving forward. To me, Amukamara still makes plenty of sense, especially as cheap veteran depth that already knows this defense.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

In my opinion, yes. There are plenty of equal, if not better options at kicker than Cairo Santos. As most have seen by now, the Bears officially placed Eddy Pineiro on IR Tuesday. That means he is not eligible to come off until Week 4, which should give his groin a chance to heal even further.

Just to give you an idea on some veterans names that are out there:

  • Kai Forbath
  • Chase McLaughlin
  • Matt Gay
  • Aldrick Rosas (2018 Pro Bowler)
  • Stephen Hauschka

While some of these names are somewhat unproven, someone like Forbath or even Hauschka could make sense as a reliable veteran kicker if Santos fails. I do feel as if the Bears are rolling the dice at the kicker position because they prefer familiarity over a more proven name. As I tweeted earlier, here’s to hoping Santos doesn’t cost them a game before their kicking situation sorts itself out.

Now that the Bears have (temporarily?) resolved their quarterback dilemma, fans are starting to question the move to trade for Nick Foles in the first place and rightfully so.

Heading into the off-season, the Bears had plenty of veteran options to choose from. Someone like Teddy Bridgewater may have been too expensive, but we saw both Cam Newton and Andy Dalton get released in the following days after the start of free agency. While I understand that it’s hard to stay patient when you have a pressing need, it also likely would have paid off in multiple areas if Pace was able to show some restraint.

At least from what I was told, the team was serious on three quarterbacks: Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and another trade candidate that ended up staying put. While they kicked the tires on someone like Newton, Pace was not going to wait around long enough to get him in for a physical and miss out on someone familiar like Foles. While I believe his lack of patience was a mistake, I don’t believe Newton was ever a real consideration due to his health concerns.

My guess is that the Bears decided to move on from Isaiah Irving as a whole. While he provided some depth off the bench last year, he failed to record a single sack in 2019 and the team simply has better depth behind their two high paid starters now.

Normally, when a player is waived with an injury settlement, it’s because he is close to being healthy, but wants a little extra to hold him over until he can latch on to a new team. If the Bears were serious about keeping Irving, they would have kept him and placed him on Injured Reserve. With that not being the case, I don’t think we see Irving back any time soon, if at all.

As far as Mario Edwards Jr. goes, he will slot in as defensive line depth and he took the roster spot of Pineiro, who was placed on Injured Reserve. The Bears will have to make an additional move before Sunday’s game to bring Santos up from the practice squad.

The one true question in terms of starters that has yet to be answered is the starting safety spot opposite of Eddie Jackson. Earlier on Tuesday, rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson confirmed that he is indeed starting opposite of Kyle Fuller in Week 1, but who will be starting at safety next to Jackson?

It’s possible that the team’s “unofficial” depth chart is actually factual, but based on what I was told happened at camp and who played the majority of the snaps alongside Jackson, I still believe Deon Bush is going to see at least some snaps.

It’s also worth noting that the coaches believe that Tashaun Gipson or Bush could play in the nickel and I’m sure they’ll also get creative when it comes to usage in other packages. By no means am I making any guarantees here, but I believe the safety job is still up for grabs and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bush out there taking the first defensive snap on Sunday.

Erik, I really wish I could give you a strong answer one way or another, but at this point I’m not really sure what to make of this Bears team heading into 2020. They had one area of focus they needed to drastically improve upon and that was the offense. Outside of adding Foles as the (current) backup, right guard Germain Ifedi, tight ends Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris and receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Darnell Mooney, I’m not sure they did a whole lot. At least outside of the coaching department, which will play a big role within the offensive line and overall run scheme.

If I had to put an over/under down right now, I’d say it would be eight wins. I could see them finishing at either (6-10) or (10-6) and wouldn’t be overly shocked, either. This team still has plenty of talent, but also plenty of questions. Namely on the offense and overall depth around the roster.

The good news? With an extra wild card team, (9-7) could be enough to get them into the playoffs and at least on paper, the NFC North doesn’t appear overly strong.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t believe that Pace’s seat is as hot as some may make it out to be. I know Sports Illustrated’s Peter King put out a blurb earlier this off-season about both Pace and Matt Nagy’s seats heating up, but I don’t think that’ll be the case barring a (4-12) like disaster. Frankly, I believe they have too much talent to fall that far, even with some serious injuries.

In terms of allowing him to add yet another quarterback, that’s where the water starts to get murky. Pace has now had three sizable swings at the position which has included Mike Glennon’s $18.5 million guaranteed for a grand total of four starts, Trubisky at No. 2 overall and now trading away a fourth-round pick and guaranteeing $21 million to Foles, who will start the season on the bench.

When you look at his three acquisitions so far, it doesn’t inspire much confidence. What I would say is this; If the team’s quarterback situation goes up in flames this year and ownership has any doubts about Pace, they need to cut base and start in on (yet another) re-tool. There’s still plenty of talent on this roster, but their cap space is in rough shape for the next year or two. This would be the perfect scenario to bring in fresh minds and hope they could draft the right quarterback and turn things around.