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As the NFL draft closes in, Chicago Bears fans want to know if it’s possible for the team to trade up to draft a quarterback — and if so, what’s the cost? But that’s not all filling up Brad Biggs’ weekly Bears mailbag. Readers also want to know if Cordarrelle Patterson will return and what the depth at inside linebacker looks like.
Are George McCaskey and Ted Phillips involved in any decision Ryan Pace makes regarding draft choices? I would hate to see him risk future first-round draft picks to save his job. — @donrickert
Clearly when you talk about a trade that is going to involve significant draft capital moving forward, yes. In any NFL organization that is something the general manager is going to have to run by ownership. Does this have to go to Phillips’ desk? I am sure it would make it to his desk but McCaskey would have to be the guy that would have to sign off on, “Yeah, it’s OK to start dealing first-round picks involving 2022, 2023, whatever.” McCaskey would have had to sign off on any huge bundle of picks and players that would have been used to acquire Russell Wilson.
If the Bears are entertaining the idea of trying to move up in Round 1 from No. 20 overall to presumably select a quarterback, ownership would have to be onboard to give the green light and support such a move. But I think anything to get them above No. 10 would almost be cost prohibitive when you look at what already has been paid for a similar move by the San Francisco 49ers, who jumped from No. 12 to No. 3. Pace and coach Matt Nagy were not given the 2021 season to continue in their positions with McCaskey and Phillips tying one hand behind their backs. They were going to be allowed to build this roster as they see fit. That being said, if a lot of future draft capital is going to be required to make a move, Pace has got to run that by ownership before he says, “Sure, let’s make a deal.”
I have a tough time with wanting to move up to grab a quarterback. If the Bears are in win-now mode, doesn’t it make sense to draft a QB on Day 2 or 3? Brad, you’re on the clock drafting the No. 20 pick for Chicago, are you trading up to take a QB or taking the best player available? — @bbtwice1080
I think they have to figure out a way to get a quarterback — and get a quarterback early — because I don’t believe the addition of Andy Dalton in place of Mitch Trubisky is the only think they are going to pin their hopes on. That simply doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I can understand some of the reasons behind them signing Dalton after the Russell Wilson trade did not materialize. Some of Dalton’s strengths and some of the ideas they have for building the roster around him make sense. They need to strengthen what they have in place and rely on some young players to show improvement.
But, boy, if your depth chart is Dalton, Nick Foles and fill in some young guy drafted on Day 3 in that No. 3 slot, that’s not super encouraging to me.
The Bears had to create a number of plans for the quarterback position at the end of season. I think the story hasn’t been told yet as to how this depth chart will shake out. I don’t believe they’re going to roll with Dalton and no one else that has much chance. I think they’re looking quarterback in Round 1 — if a guy falls and they can make a modest trade up for someone they like, absolutely that is something they are going to look at. Otherwise, they need to focus on some potential Day 2 options because they cannot wait until Day 3.
The Bears have not drafted enough quarterbacks over the last two or three decades. They have not taken enough shots to build the position and I think Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are aware of that and would tell you, if they were speaking candidly, that they’re total quarterback plan for 2021 has not yet played out.
What are the chances of the Bears re-signing Cordarrelle Patterson? — @tyberieus82
That’s a question a lot of people have had over the last several weeks and the first thing I would say is the Bears overpaid Patterson the last two seasons. He was a luxury item at $10 million for two years. Patterson delivered for them. He was an All-Pro kickoff returner both seasons. Last season he averaged 29.1 yards per return with one touchdown and in 2019 he averaged 29.5 yards with another touchdown. He was productive for an offense that needed a spark.
Patterson had 35 kickoff returns in 2020 and 28 kickoff returns in 2019. That’s kind of a small number of plays for an impactful player at $5 million per season. Patterson likely is in line for a pay cut pretty much no matter where he plays this season. As you often see in the league, it’s easy for a player to accept a pay cut from another organization as opposed to the one he just played with. For instance, Kyle Fuller is playing for less money this season and he’s going to do so as a member of the Denver Broncos. It’s easy for a guy to stomach that pay cut going elsewhere than to look at his former team and say, “Hey, I did nothing but produce for you. I was elite at what I was asked to do.”
Patterson is a four-time All-Pro kickoff returner. The problem is he’s not really a fit on offense and the Bears tried a variety of ways to get him on the field — a gadget or matchup player offensively — and it just hasn’t been a real good fit. I believe the Bears would love to have Patterson back but it would have to be at their price and he’s going to have to decide whether to take that pay cut and come back or do what the vast majority of guys put in this position do: they take that pay cut to go play elsewhere.
Most experts are indicating the Bears’ draft focus must be on quarterback, cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver. Although his play seemed to speed up as the season went along, Danny Trevathan’s tire tread is wearing thin. With his guaranteed money running out in 2021, is a replacement for Trevathan in consideration? I understand the importance of those other positions but the Bears cannot afford to have a linebacker who appears to be in slow motion. Or do the Bears think his replacement currently is on their roster? — Jerry L.
I agree with you that depth at inside linebacker is an issue and that clearly is why the team went out and signed Christian Jones. I’m not sure former fourth-round pick Joel Iyiegbuniwe has developed enough defensively through his first two seasons, and this could be a position the Bears keep an eye on during the third day of the draft. But the focus, other than what I deem to be a real need at cornerback, has to remain on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears need multiple players that can step in and help the offense be more productive right away. This is a team that was handcuffed in free agency by a tight salary-cap situation, so there is added pressure to add offensive pieces via the draft. I think the Bears hope they can squeeze one more season out of Trevathan, who was overpaid when he was re-signed a year ago, and somehow come up with depth. They’ve got a fantastic player at inside linebacker in Roquan Smith and need someone to be serviceable alongside him.
If the Bears draft a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds and can’t trade Nick Foles, how do you project the cost of carrying three quarterbacks in terms of cuts? Which group loses a member when they can’t hide that kind of rookie on the practice squad? — Damian W., Missoula, Mont.
If the Bears draft a quarterback — and I expect that to happen — a rookie contract isn’t going to be burdensome when you project how that impacts the salary cap. That’s not an issue with Andy Dalton set to earn $10 million this season, and Foles’ pay is in line with what some of the higher-end backups at the position receive. This will not be an issue for the team.
I think Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is going to be a star in the NFL and would love to see the Bears draft him, but most would argue they have bigger needs at other positions. Do you see any chance the Bears draft other than CB, WR, OL or QB in the first round? — @mike__chicago
Owusu-Koramoah is a talented Notre Dame product and in my initial mock draft, I had him going 17th overall to the Las Vegas Raiders. There is a strong chance he’s a Day 1 pick and his range should make him an excellent player for seasons to come. I don’t see the Bears using a first-round pick on an inside linebacker. That’s not going to help them score more points on offense and I am sure you are keenly aware that is a need that has to be addressed via the draft.
Big picture, speaking in terms of infrastructure, do you think there is a predominant reason why some teams such as the Bears seem to be habitually poor while others successful? Is it scout talent, facilities, organizational planning, preparation, etc.? — @mouth_bones
I realize there is a feeling that the Bears are in disarray right now, but what they are is firmly entrenched in the middle of the pack. They’re 16-16 over the last two seasons and when you look at the 2010s, they were 76-84, which ranked 19th. It’s understandable the team was going to have a rough patch in the early 2010s when the defense that carried the club for such a long time was getting long in the tooth. Add in the ongoing quarterback issues, and you can understand why the Bears have struggled to achieve sustained success. Of late the Bears have either been operating without first-round picks or missed on high picks, and that is an obstacle to overcome.
The facilities at Halas Hall are first-rate and can be matched up against nearly any building in the NFL.
I would circle back to the quarterback position. Teams are going to have a difficult time winning on a regular basis without a top-notch quarterback. That’s the way the league is designed now and never has it been more important to have a high-caliber player at that position.
How much would a trade to No. 4 cost? And why would George McCaskey let Ryan Pace risk the team’s future for the fourth-best QB if they did make the move? — @babablak19426799
The cost to move from No. 20 to No. 4 likely would be sky high, and I can’t imagine a scenario where it did not cost their first-round pick in 2021, 2022 and 2023. It could involve more than that when you consider the 49ers traded more than three first-round picks to move from No. 12 to No. 3. For the Atlanta Falcons to maximize a potential return on the sale of the No. 4 pick, they need to have more than one bidder involved.
I have a hard time envisioning McCaskey signing off on the mortgaging of so much future draft capital to take a swing on the fourth quarterback in the draft. It would be one thing to bundle all of those future picks to get a known quantity such as Russell Wilson. It’s another thing to trade all of that for a lottery pick, which is what the fourth quarterback in this class would be.
You can’t rule out the possibility the Bears get aggressive in pursuit of a quarterback, but it seems more likely to me they potentially would be in action if a quarterback they like begins to slide to about No. 10 or maybe even a little lower.