I think it’s pretty easy to say that things feel about a million times better at this point in the offseason than they did last year, so I won’t ask you if you agree. But I do want to know something similar: How does your opinion of the team right now compare to what you thought you might be thinking about the team right now, say, a year ago.
In other words, did the 2017 season and 2018 free agent period/NFL draft go better than you expected it to go for the Bears? About what you thought? Worse? From where I stand, the Bears are clearly better positioned for this season than I even thought they would be, and I was already expecting some improvements. But do you agree?
Drop your answers in the comments below. In the meantime, here’s some news from around the league …
- Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram checks in on Adam Schefter’s podcast, which features former Cowboys star and recently hired Monday Night Football analyst Jason Witten. During the podcast, the all-time Cowboys great shared his belief that Dez Bryant is going to end up on the Packers. “I think that’s a great spot for him,” Witten said. “Aaron Rodgers, he throws that back-shoulder throw so well, and Dez [can have] great chemistry with a good quarterback that can put the ball wherever he wants.” With that in mind, I would implore any team that needs receiver help to snatch up Bryant before the Packers do.
- Over in the other prime-time television booth, FOX is going with a reliable tandem for its Thursday Night Football package. John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be on the call on Thursdays. It never seemed like using the Buck-Aikman team was in the cards for FOX, especially considering other broadcast candidates such as Peyton Manning, Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Bruce Arians, and others were available. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post adds that inserting Buck and Aikman into the Thursday slate will add six or seven games to the team’s broadcasting schedule. So if you’re not a fan of Buck and/or Aikman, you probably aren’t pleased with this development. If you do like the stylings of Buck and/or Aikman, then you’ll be happy to read about their increased work load.
- The Arizona Republic reports that the Cardinals’ second-round draft pick Christian Kirk was arrested in February and charged with disorderly conduct and property damage. For what it’s worth, the Cardinals say they knew about the arrest even though it hadn’t been previously reported. The case is still pending and Kirk didn’t have any other known off-the-field issues, so the hope here is that this is the last we’ll see of Kirk’s name in the police blotter. Kirk was one of the best receiver prospects in the draft and someone believed to be worthy of a first-round pick. That ultimately didn’t happen as Kirk fell to the second round, where he was taken just four spots before the Bears’ second-round receiver Anthony Miller.
- Speaking of receivers, the free agent receiver class of 2018 has set things up quite nicely for future pass catchers to hit the open market. Detroit’s Golden Tate is one of them, and while he hopes it’s with the Lions, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports “substantive contract talks” have yet to begin. Tate has racked up at least 90 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in each of his last three seasons and is one of football’s best inside receivers. I imagine he would be looking for the kind of deal Jarvis Landry received from the Browns this offseason, that could be viewed as a market-shifting contract for all receivers.
- As part of rules changes announced in March, the NFL’s new hitting with a lowered helmet rules that include 15-yard penalties and the potential for ejections was something that was widely panned despite not even being put into motion. Kevin Seifert of ESPN brings along some good news for those who were worried about the rule, writing that the new rule won’t be a game-changer in a negative light and that the hope is the new rule will help the game in the long term.
- We’ll get into all the gambling stuff later.
- In other big news, it sounds like the Panthers are staying put, even as they get a new owner:
Steelers’ minority owner David Tepper is expected to sign the deal today to buy the Panthers and keep them in Carolina, league sources tell @SethWickersham and me. The deal then would be expected to be approved at the owners meetings in Atlanta on May 22.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 15, 2018
- At NFL.com, Dan Orlovsky guesses that – in 10 years – Carson Wentz’s name will be in the conversation for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. “When we think ‘GOAT’ at the position, our brains kinda automatically go to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Their sophomore years, Brady had 28 touchdowns, 14 picks. Manning had 26 touchdowns, 15 picks. Carson had 33 and 7. He took the sophomore slump” and turned it entirely on its head. Orlovsky doesn’t just leave it as good second seasons, of course. He cities really good play callers and great GMs as important components to a talented QB taking his game from great to greatest. And with that in mind, he believes Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman can take Wentz’s game to that superstar level.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.