Yesterday was loaded with quarterback news and rumors around here, whether by trade, by free agency, or by draft, which is a reminder of just how important that process is going to be for the Bears this offseason. Speaking of which …
- No matter what the team does in 2017, finding its next quarterback is an obvious top priority. And if the Bears don’t use the draft to find that player, ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson writes the team can do so by acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s a move that would feature moving draft picks, but solving the quarterback crisis is the kind of move that sets things up now, and down the line – assuming Garoppolo pans out and is signed to an extension.
- Over at Pro Football Weekly, Greg Gabriel puts his scouting eye on the underclassmen in the draft who will be at the Combine. As the years go on, more non-seniors are making an impact on the draft. Which also means third-year sophomores and juniors are also making major statements with their Combine performances. And because most underclassmen don’t participate in the Senior Bowl or other showcase games, the Combine is a place for teams to do their homework.
- One of this offseason’s sideshows will be whether the NFLPA can actually follow through with its threats advising players not to sign with Chicago in free agency. Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes the NFLPA’s threats shouldn’t affect the Bears in free agency. While NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith makes headlines with his strong stance, the bill in question that has Smith in a tizzy isn’t something that is at the forefront of contract negotiations.
- As for making transactions on the free agent market, Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling has a Bears guide to free agency, which is full of suggestions for the team to follow this offseason. Roling highlights several positions of need (tight end, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, safety, and wide receiver) and how the team can use the free agent market and its cap space to fill some holes.
- Over at Scout.com’s Bear Report, Zack Pearson writes that the Bears would be wise to extend defensive lineman Akiem Hicks’ contract before he becomes a free agent after the 2017 season. Hicks was a pleasant surprise from a production standpoint in 2016, playing on a team-friendly two-year deal signed last offseason. Because he is only 27 and can still grow with the defense, Pearson writes the Bears shouldn’t wait to lock up Hicks.
- Being progressive in keeping the team’s top talent should be a priority at some point before next offseason, but there is still work to be done for the 2017 team. And while offense and defense are primary concerns, the Bears could be losing some key special teams contributors in the offseason. Kicker Connor Barth is among the free agents who could sign elsewhere this offseason. And while finding a kicker isn’t a top priority right now, special teams could be an area in which players make a name for themselves by competing for a roster spot and moving up the depth chart from there.
- This class of wide receivers will have ample opportunity to break out from a crowded top of the pack at the combine. Any of these names should pique the Bears’ interest:
#NFLCombine is just around the corner.
Thoughts? ? pic.twitter.com/eRKjLGIvEP
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 17, 2017
- Kyle Shanahan reveived a six-year deal to be 49ers head coach, so while the team is in the catbird’s seat with a high first-round draft pick and being flushed with cash, it is in no rush to draft a quarterback in Year 1. Obviously, finding a long-term quarterback solution is a priority in San Francisco (especially with the Colin Kaepernick situation), but because the the team seems to be embracing a big picture approach, the organization is preaching patience over risk in their hunt for a quarterback.
- No matter who their quarterback of the future is, the 49ers will need to protect their asset with an improved offensive line. Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert could be an option for teams if he hits free agency, but it looks like the Dolphins will try to trade him before that. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has everything you need to know about how a potential Albert trade would shape up, including an early potential trade partner. Albert will play in his age 33 season in 2017, so there is considerable risk in baking on him being a long-term difference maker. However, he has a lengthy history of being a productive lineman and might have a few years left in the tank for some team.