The Chicago Bears haven’t even played a game, but they’re back. So let’s enjoy this while we can:
“The @ChicagoBears are back. I don’t care if they’ve played a game yet.”
A new era has arrived in the Windy City.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 28, 2018
- If the Bears are really back, then we’ll probably look back fondly on this free agency period because multiple players from this group need to be successful for the team (specifically, the offense) to get going in the right direction. But as Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly points out, the holdovers from last year’s roster are going to have to be impact players, too. Bears GM Ryan Pace speaks glowingly of some of the players coming back, such as corners Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and yes, Marcus Cooper.
- Cooper gets a clean slate in his return to Chicago, writes Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Pace explained how the team was open with Cooper and his agent about the process of letting him go and allowing him to explore the market, adding that he feels “fortunate and very happy” to have Cooper back, and at a much more cost-efficient price, to boot. “Obviously, we feel good about him,” Pace said. “There’s a reason why he’s back. Right now, [it’s] kind of a clean slate for 2018. Let him attack this offseason and work himself back in.”
- If you’ll recall, Cooper was the starter at corner early in the year before things started going south after an injury kept him out of action in Week 5. When Amukamara returned to full strength and Fuller’s career year took off, it left Cooper as the odd man out. I’ll be interested to see how Cooper approaches the offseason, training camp, and the preseason. Cooper’s number of defensive snaps took a tumble as the season went on. In a sense, he finds himself in a similar situation to what Fuller did last year in needing a solid showing in the summer to carve out a niche for 2018.
- The Bears have depth at cornerback, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another high-end defensive back to the mix. Perhaps the team can do that via the draft. This class of defensive backs looks to be pretty deep, so it might behoove the team to trade back at some point to add picks and bodies with upside to the roster. While Pace has traded up in the first round in each of the last two years, he has also traded back in the second round on each occasions. Thus, recouping picks lost when trading up. In his most recent mailbag, Larry Mayer of the Bears’ official site answers a question regarding the Bears’ trading down and out of the No. 8 pick. In a word: “Absolutely.”
- Earlier in the week, we discussed the possibility of trading down (or even up) depending on what the Bears feel is the right course of action and which player they have eyes for in this class.
- Chicago could ultimately stand pat and take the best player to fall to the team at No. 8. That player could very well be Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson. The Bears have a gaping hole at left guard now and Nelson isn’t just the best guard in the draft, he is also viewed as its best offensive lineman prospect. Re-uniting Nelson with college offensive line coach Harry Hiestand would make for a nice side story to follow along this year.
- Teams have long been hesitant to take a guard in the top-10, but with as talented as the interior defenders are in modern NFL, one could make a case that interior linemen should be valued higher than they are now. Guards aren’t just responsible for pushing back space-eating run-stuffers. Good defenses get pressure from the middle and make a mess of the pocket. If protecting the quarterback is as important as we all believe, then we should start thinking about how we perceive interior linemen.
- Over at Bleacher Report, Kristopher Knox warns about the risks of trading back in the first round. Further, Knox suggests the Bears’ biggest draft day mistake would be trading back and taking themselves out of the range of possibly choosing an elite college prospect. That would be a true shame. Because, yes, adding depth and picks can be valuable but there is no replicating the impact of a game-changer. Those types of players are most-often found in the top-10. Yes, we can cherry pick players in every other round who have gone on to be great players despite being drafted outside of the top-10. But the numbers over the long haul suggest the top-10 is the place where those players are found the most often.