Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and three other Chicago Bears assistants will head to Mobile, Ala., next week to coach in the Senior Bowl. Before that, Brad Biggs opens his weekly Bears mailbag to find questions about the draft, free agency and personal seat licenses in Arlington Heights.
For the first time, the Halas/McCaskey ownership has gone outside the organization for a president. As a fan, what indicators should we be watching for to see that the tide has really turned? — @xsubco
The tide doesn’t change until the team starts winning, right? It’s natural to expect new President/CEO Kevin Warren to make some personnel moves after he settles into his position, but this hiring is unlikely to affect football operations in the immediate future. I envision we will see folks from the outside added in newly created roles and some general turnover. But I don’t think Warren will come in and shake up the football side for the time being. Everyone involved has expressed confidence in general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus as they head into their second year.
Warren made it clear the stadium issue will require the majority of his focus. I think the Arlington Park possibility (probability?) excites a good portion of the fan base. I also believe the fan base cares more about seeing a consistent winner on the field than where that field actually is. The Bears have not had consecutive winning seasons since 2005-06. Only four teams have longer dry spells without such a modest showing of consistent winning.
Carolina Panthers: No back-to-back winning seasons since entering the league in 1995.
Cleveland Browns: Last consecutive winning seasons were 1986 through 1989.
Las Vegas Raiders: Last consecutive winning seasons were 2000 through 2002.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Last consecutive winning seasons were 2004-05.
Everything Poles has said indicates he’s attempting to lay the groundwork for sustained success. The Bears are in the early stages of that process. Tearing down the walls is the easy part. Now begins the difficult rebuild.
Warren is more than qualified for his role with more than two decades of success in the league with three franchises. He will bring an abundance of energy and likely fresh ideas to the building. How it all comes together and what it means for the football side of things, we’ll have to wait and find out. I know everyone wants an immediate conclusion, but these things take time. Warren’s resume and track record are impressive. The Bears got a strong candidate. They have a long way to go on the field.
Do you see a path to trading down twice in the first round and still getting an impact player? — @mike_mosley
Talk about threading the needle. Let’s start with the possibility of trading down twice. Is this quarterback class really so talented that there will be that much demand for teams to pay retail to move into the top four or five picks? We’re going to hear plenty of hype about the quarterbacks and they almost always are overdrafted. I’d say the chances of a double trade down are minimal — but nothing can be ruled out at this point.
Impact players can be found all over the place, but there are no sure things. The Bears were in the top 10 when they selected Kevin White and Leonard Floyd. White busted and Floyd did not ascend to that level.
Obviously the path to pulling off two trades down in Round 1 would involve the quarterbacks getting hot with teams — not hyped by media and fans.
I see the Bears trading back. How far back is the question. Do you see any chance of the Bears staying at No. 1? — @barbersquires
It might not be a popular thought, but, sure, there’s a chance the Bears stay at No. 1. As I have written numerous times, what if none of the quarterbacks in this class stands out to a degree that someone is driven to pay a high price to move up? Many have viewed this situation through the prism of the best possible outcome for the Bears. It’s exciting to imagine how one pick could be turned into many picks or multiple first-round picks. But that requires a trading partner with conviction and maybe even a bit of desperation.
What if Ryan Poles falls head over heels for a prospect and deems him a can’t-miss, generational talent? Would he want to risk potentially missing out on that player by trading down? What if Poles feels a prospect is close to can’t-miss and gets offers that he deems a little light, even if those offers might work if he wasn’t in love with a prospect?
A ton of variables are involved here. Do I think there’s a good chance the Bears will trade down? I think Poles will listen to anything and everything that comes his way. We don’t know what that is yet, and we could be two months from anything materializing.
Do you think the Bears will target guys like Andre Dillard and Jawaan Taylor to help their OT situation? Same with guys like Yannick Ngakoue and Dre’Mont Jones for their defensive line. Try to spread the money around to five to seven guys instead of two or three bigger names. — @m_nick89
Taylor is in line for a big contract, and the only question is whether he receives it from the Jacksonville Jaguars or reaches the open market. He’s a right tackle and likely would be overpaid in free agency, but he has been a very solid player for the Jaguars and could lock down the Bears right tackle position that has been a bit of a revolving door the last couple of seasons.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Dillard, a former first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. Some thought the Eagles might trade him during the offseason. That didn’t happen, and he has been a reserve on arguably the best offensive line in the league. Dillard has only nine career starts — five in 2021 and four in 2019.
The Bears should have a sharp scouting report on Dillard from assistant GM Ian Cunningham, who came from Philadelphia. Is he a player who needs a fresh start elsewhere? Maybe he’s a starting-caliber player. Perhaps he’s swing tackle material. I’d be surprised if the Bears signed Dillard and anointed him as a starter. Considering his background, he would have to compete for a starting spot.
If I had to choose, I think the Bears will be more active in free agency on the defensive line than the offensive line. Ngakoue is 27 and has been on five teams since 2019. You know why? He doesn’t play the run a lick. He can get after the quarterback and is coming off a 9½-sack season for the Indianapolis Colts after posting 10 for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. He has 65 career sacks in 110 games and instantly would be the Bears’ best pass rusher. That being said, he’s nowhere near the echelon of elite edge rushers. If you are advocating for the Bears to add Ngakoue, just understand his production against the run likely would disappoint you.
If Smith reaches free agency, he would be one of the most coveted players on the market and I would expect the Bears to be heavily involved. He’s an ascending player who is disruptive on the interior. I would be mighty surprised if the Denver Broncos don’t make efforts to retain him.
I imagine the Bears will spread the money around in free agency and sign a good handful of players, but we have to wait until we have a little better idea of who will be available.
Hopefully with added draft capital from trading down, do you think it would be a good idea for the Bears to draft a quarterback in maybe the fourth or fifth round? Someone who can adapt to the Bears’ system? — Amir
There have been a handful of questions along these lines lately, with some wondering if it’s a good idea to get an athletic backup with a skill set that somewhat mirrors Justin Fields. They are all good suggestions. I’m of the mindset that the Bears need to make sure they have their franchise quarterback first before they try to solve the riddle of the No. 2.
What about a wide receiver with intriguing traits in the middle rounds? Those rounds can be fertile for drafting a guard who needs a year or so to figure out the NFL and then becomes a very good starter. How about the host of needs on defense? The Bears have way too many pressing needs to spend much in the way of resources on a No. 2 quarterback.
As a season ticket holder at Soldier Field, I am naturally curious what the transition process to the new stadium is likely to be, specifically for those with PSLs. I understand it is way too early for the Bears to have thought about this, but I’d be curious to know how the Vikings handled this transition since Kevin Warren was presumably involved in that process and will undoubtedly be involved with this when the Bears move to Arlington Heights, which seems inevitable. — Cliff H., East Lansing, Mich.
There’s a considerable difference between the Vikings’ move from the Metrodome (with a brief stay at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus) to U.S. Bank Stadium and what the Bears would undergo if they move. The Vikings did not have personal seat licenses at the Metrodome, so that was a new program.
The Bears sold about 26,000 PSLs at Soldier Field when it was renovated and reopened in 2003. That’s less than half of the seating capacity when including club and suite seats. The team has said it will take care of those folks, whose PSLs will expire when the Bears are finished playing at Soldier Field. (Yes, we’re operating under that assumption to answer this question.) I believe that means current PSL holders would have first crack at buying PSLs at a new stadium, likely in an area similar to where they were at Soldier Field.
A new wave of PSLs would be considerably more expensive. I’d guess a new stadium would have a much larger percentage of seats that require PSLs. When the Vikings rolled out their PSL plan for U.S. Bank Stadium in 2014, they announced 75% of the stadium’s 65,400 seats would have licenses. The cost ranged from $500 to $9,500 each and the team divided the seating into 16 zones, giving season ticket holders at the Metrodome an opportunity to purchase a PSL based on their current seats. That was 2014, so figure the price would be higher in Arlington Heights.
This is just speculation on my part and I’m hardly a ticket expert, but I think you can count on three things: A significantly higher percentage of PSL seats in a new stadium, a significantly higher price attached to them and an opportunity for current PSL holders to purchase first. I don’t think current PSLs would have any other value than putting folks in line to purchase another PSL.
Since the Bears have so many needs to fill over the next few years, why not target a team much lower in the draft to get a larger quantity of picks in return for the No. 1 pick? At this point, one top-five pick won’t move the needle, but several additional picks might. — Matt B., Naperville
Good question and I have a few reactions. First, I don’t think the team holding the No. 1 pick should be the one targeting, to use your word, a trade partner. Wait for the calls to come to you. Start calling around to peddle the pick and you’re going to invite offers that are worth 75 cents on the dollar. Ryan Poles should field calls — assuming they come — and consider the merit of any offers. The lower the Bears go into Round 1, the bigger the haul of picks they would receive, and that would be a boon for those who believe a team needs as much draft ammunition as possible.
The thing about staying at No. 1 (or trading down only a few picks), is that would put the Bears in position to get an elite player and the roster clearly needs difference makers. Deal down to the middle of Round 1 and there’s no guarantee a difference maker would be available. The first round is full of hits and misses, and coming off a three-win season, I believe the Bears need to come out of the draft with a player they feel confident will help tilt the field.
Doug Pederson considered and rejected last year by the Bears. Brian Daboll interviewed and rejected. Matt Eberflus led the Bears to last place. Thoughts? — T. Johnson, Edgerton, Wis.
Pederson did a terrific job with the Jaguars this season, keeping them alive after a five-game losing streak dropped them to 2-6 at the end of October. I’m not sure the Bears wanted to go from one member of the Andy Reid coaching tree in Matt Nagy to another in Pederson. Yes, Pederson distinguished himself with the Eagles, and it’s easy to look at the success other coaches have had elsewhere and wonder what could have been.
Some viewed Daboll as a bit of a package deal with GM candidate Joe Schoen, who interviewed for the job that went to Ryan Poles and was hired by the New York Giants along with Daboll. The difference between the Jaguars and Giants and the Bears is the Bears chose to rip their roster apart in a clear rebuilding effort. The Jaguars and Giants also got better quarterback play than the Bears did.
I’m not sure any coach would have done a whole heck of a lot better with the Bears roster and the moves that were made during the season, such as trading Roquan Smith. Let’s see what Eberflus and his staff can accomplish with a better assembly of players.
Was there any growth with Alex Leatherwood’s play after missing a large chunk of time? He’s a flier that could look like a steal if he comes around at guard or right tackle. — @shawbrian_
Leatherwood didn’t show any real progress with the few opportunities he had, and let’s be accurate about who he was being judged against — mostly a group of players the Bears don’t want to consider for starting roles in 2023. Maybe a full offseason with the team and then training camp will lead to a breakthrough for Leatherwood, but nothing he did in games this season would lead you to believe that’s likely. What the Bears got from Leatherwood was pretty much what he put on tape for the Raiders in 2021.