Would Louis Delmas help the Bears? -- @Monctonscout from Twitter
This was a popular question Thursday when the news spread that the Lions released the veteran safety. Delmas, 26, played in 16 games last season for the first time in his career. He has a degenerative knee condition and that is why he missed eight games in 2012. In fact, some teams took him off their draft board when he was coming out because of the knee issues.
Delmas was limited to only Thursday practices last season and a Lions source told me he pretty much only did work in 7-on-7 drills in practice with an eye toward ensuring the former second-round pick from Western Michigan could be on the field Sundays. Delmas is an energetic player on the field with strong leadership skills. He had a career-high three interceptions last year and two sacks to go with 64 tackles. The Lions, who re-signed him after he entered the market in free agency a year ago, didn’t want to pay him $6.5 million in 2014.
I think Delmas is a really good player and he’s certainly a lot of fun to watch but his health is worrisome. The last thing the Bears need is to count on a newcomer and then have him sidelined for large stretches of time by a pre-existing injury. It’s possible Delmas returns to the Lions if he doesn’t find something more to his liking on the open market. But Detroit would be taking a risk counting on him.
Saw a report today on Yahoo that said the Bears only have $6.69 million in salary cap space. It has to be higher than that right? -- @MatHartwig from Twitter
I actually believe the current figure is a little less than that but focusing on the Bears’ cap situation this offseason isn’t going to be a particularly telling exercise. The Bears used a big chunk of their available cap space for 2014 with new contracts for quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings, left guard Matt Slauson and kicker Robbie Gould.
Cutler’s contract, as is stands right now, gives him the highest cap figure in the entire NFL for the coming season at $22.5 million. As I detailed in this story shortly after the contracts were completed, the contracts for Cutler, Jennings and Slauson give the Bears the ability to go in at any time and convert 2014 base salary to a signing bonus in order to create additional cap space for this season. Basically, general manager Phil Emery can use it on an “as needed basis.” If he has a player he wants to sign and one that will require more cap space than available at the time, he can tweak one (or more) of the contracts and convert that cap space with what is an “automatic conversion” clause.
Of course, creating cap space for this year by altering contracts for these players creates bigger cap numbers for them in future years, so the Bears will be wise with their planning. The more pressing issue is what the team’s cash budget will be.
How soon will the Bears start clearing cap space to prepare for free agency? -- @FelicelliJoe from Twitter
Cap space isn’t a pressing issue for the Bears this offseason. I could see running back Michael Bush being released at some point and perhaps another player or two. I highly doubt the Bears will pay Julius Peppers $14 million in 2014. But they need to make a football decision with Peppers, not a cap decision. Cutting Peppers doesn’t make the Bears better in the season to come by itself. He could be asked to accept a pay reduction and that would free up some cap space. Free agency doesn’t open until March 11 so it’s not like there is a rush to remove players. Sometimes, teams cut veteran players loose early in order to give them more time to seek a new job. In other cases, teams wait to replace an unwanted player until he is cut. Some players are released just before deadlines for roster bonus payments.
What position on defense do you believe the bears have the best chance of adding an impact player? Draft or free agency? -- @JeffHahaha from Twitter
The greatest need for an impact player, in my mind, is on the defensive line. It looks like the draft will have a couple options for the Bears where they are selecting at No. 14 in terms of tackles. The Bears need multiple playmakers on defense and will probably look at possibilities on the line and at safety in free agency but it’s too early to tell exactly who is going to be on the market. I tend to doubt a major investment will be made at linebacker.
Do you think Jerry Angelo would make the Jay Cutler trade again? His poor drafting and lack of moves to aid the quarterback got him fired. -- @jtbbears from Twitter
Angelo made news this week when he rated the NFL’s quarterbacks for thesidelineview.com and it has generated a good deal of buzz. Unfortunately, 20/20 hindsight is a superpower no general manager or scout possesses. It’s difficult to say the Bears won the Cutler trade at this point because the Broncos reached the Super Bowl first and the moves Denver made as a result of the trade provided the team with some very strong players. I do believe Angelo would make the trade again. Remember back to what he said at the conclusion of the 2008 season: “It’s all about the quarterback. You don’t win because of wide receivers. You don’t win because of running backs. You win because of the quarterback. We have to get that position stabilized. We’re fixated on that.” That drove him to swing the deal with the Broncos, one that gave the Bears a quarterback coming off a Pro Bowl year. While many have blamed the failure for Cutler to play at the same level on a rotating crew of offensive coordinators, I think the blame really goes all around, encompassing ex-coach Lovie Smith, Cutler himself and others. The Bears have a highly productive offense now as they prepare for Cutler’s sixth season with the club. Let’s see what he and the team can do.
Why does Jerry Angelo pipe in now about Jay Cutler? He brought us a great quarterback and now he wants to be a (jerk)? -- @Sraebog6 from Twitter
Angelo evaluated all of the quarterbacks with a scout’s eye and he wound up ranking Cutler 15th overall. Here’s the deal: When you find rankings like this that is the range that Cutler typically falls in. Last summer, Ron Jaworski ranked the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and Cutler was No. 14. ESPN’s John Clayton actually had Cutler No. 21 entering last season. So is it Angelo’s scouting breakdown of Cutler that is upsetting or the fact that Cutler is lumped into the middle of the pack? Here is what Angelo wrote:
“Has all the physical tools, but inconsistent in the clutch. Mostly due to a lack of poise. He’s not comfortable reading defenses and consequently locks onto a favorite or pre-determined target, that may or may not be the right choice. The less he’s asked to see the better he is. A better half field general, than a full field one.”
Cutler has certainly played well for the Bears in the fourth quarter at times but it’s impossible to say he hasn’t been inconsistent. I think everyone would agree he’s been locked onto Brandon Marshall as a “pre-determined target” at times (maybe less this past season) and that he relies on his physical gift – perhaps the strongest arm in the NFL – at times. I don’t know that anything Angelo wrote is actually wrong here.
What are the chances of Fendi Onobun being promoted from the practice squad next year? All about the hands? -- @danjnolte from Twitter
Onobun is on the team’s offseason roster and the practice squad will not be formed until after final cuts in September. Onobun had some bad drops in preseason last summer and that ultimately probably cost him a spot on the 53-man roster. The former college basketball player has bounced around the NFL a good deal but he has spent more time with the Bears than any other franchise. The hope is his familiarity with the system and adjustments to the game will slow the game down for him. I think that is the issue with Onobun, not bad hands. Athletically, he’s got everything you’d like to see in a dynamic pass-catching tight end. But he was a basketball player and football – at the pro level – did not come naturally to him. That doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a fine football player but like I said, the game has to slow down for him. He looked terrific last spring in a helmet and shorts and had points in training camp when he stood out. I’d expect him to flourish again this coming spring. The test will be when the pads go on and the team gets into preseason. The Bears need to upgrade their depth at tight end and for that reason I’d expect them to seek a player at the end of the draft or perhaps target multiple priority undrafted free agents with the hope one of them pans out. Onobun should be in the mix as well.
Is Kony Ealy the best option for the Bears in draft? There are not many other 4-3 defensive ends and he is versatile. -- @JoeRingblum from Twitter
The Missouri product is an interesting prospect because he’s got great length. He is 6-5, 275 pounds with long arms and he plays fast coming off the edge. He has the speed to make plays in pursuit and holds up adequately with strength at the point of attack. He can be a little inconsistent but it’s hard to find a pass-rushing prospect that doesn’t get hit with that label. If Ealy has a big combine, he could really generate some buzz heading toward the draft. You are right, he is one of the few 4-3 ends that look like first-round prospects at this point. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is at the head of the class and Ealy might be No. 2.
What are the odds the Bears try to re-sign Gabe Carimi and let Aarom Kromer work with him? -- @andrewsmith_16 from Twitter
I highly doubt that will happen. Carimi chose to work out on his own in Arizona last offseason instead of training with Kromer and the team in the voluntary workout program. Why would the Bears want to work with him now? The Bears were fortunate general manager Phil Emery was able to flip Carimi to the Bucs for a sixth-round pick. Maybe the Falcons and Mike Tice take a look at Carimi but he hasn’t been the same player since that knee injury suffered in Week 2 of his rookie season.
With the linebackers on the roster wouldn't it make more sense to draft big like Ted Washington to plug holes than a three technique like Timmy Jernigan? -- @3ricHartel from Twitter
You’re going to be hard pressed to find a player like Ted Washington in this draft or any draft. Washington was over 400 pounds at certain points in his career with the Bears. The most pressing issue inside is finding a disruptive player, the kind of three technique tackle that can create problems for the offense in passing and running situations. I didn’t watch Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene and the other linebackers last season and get the impression they needed a massive run plugger (with no value in passing situations) to make them better. Washington and Keith Traylor were terrific in their short run with the Bears but it’s a passing league and I think you need to be seeking more athletic players, even at a position known for brawn.
D-line, linebacker or safety in the first round? -- @RickertDave from Twitter
If all things are equal, defensive line. I wouldn’t rule out cornerback either. That is clearly a position of need. But defenses need to be built from the trenches on back.
If the Bears cut Julius Peppers, go with a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft and re-sign Henry Melton, what are the chances Melton moves outside to end? -- @mkramer1121 from Twitter
I’d say there is no chance of that happening. The Bears drafted Melton as an end and used him there briefly but it was late in training camp his rookie season that then defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli shifted him inside to tackle. Melton added some strength and weight when he spent that entire season on injured reserve and now he is ideally suited as a tackle. I don’t think he has the speed to play off the edge at a high level. Provided he returns in good shape from the ACL reconstruction, he will play tackle at a high level. Why switch him away from his best position? That would marginalize his talent.
How likely is the possibility of the Bears and Brandon Marshall agreeing on a potential contract extension that could save cap space? -- @EDuerrwaechter from Twitter
My guess is a contract extension is a more pressing issue for Marshall right now than for the team. The Pro Bowl wide receiver is entering the final year of his contract, and is set to earn $9.1 million in base salary with a $200,000 workout bonus to bring his total compensation and cap figure to $9.3 million.
Could a new deal lower that cap figure slightly for 2014? I suppose that is possible but that would require a big bonus payment and many years to spread that money out over the life of the contract for purposes of the cap. Marshall turns 30 next month meaning he will be 31 when the contract is completed. He’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and issues that plagued him previously in Denver and Miami have not been factors at Halas Hall. He’s had three arthroscopic hip surgeries, the most recent last January, one that forced him to miss pretty much the entire offseason program. As we saw, it didn’t impact his production on the field where he has been a model of durability.
I would imagine the Bears would like to work out a deal for Marshall to keep him in place for several seasons to come but they’ve done some big spending this offseason already and have major work to do on defense. Marshall’s buddy Jay Cutler played to the end of his last contract before getting a new deal. It could be Marshall has to do the same thing. That would be advantageous for the Bears but would saddle Marshall with injury risk for this coming season. Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a dynamic playmaker and the Bears could be in a situation where they need to pay him after this season also. But it’s hard to think Marshall isn’t in future plans.
Is there any chance that Johnny Knox could ever return? -- @toddlikesgolf from Twitter
No. Knox’s spinal cord injury was career ending. He was a terrific player and the arrow was pointing up on his career when it ended.
Do the Bears draft a quarterback? -- @BirchwoodJB from Twitter
Good question. It’s never a bad idea to have a developmental quarterback in the pipeline. But Jay Cutler’s seven-year contract means he’s probably the team’s quarterback for at least the next three seasons, if not more. If the Bears can re-sign Josh McCown, as they would like to, I don’t know that this is a priority. The Bears might be better served addressing another need and waiting a year.
I really don't see the powers that be targeting offensive players in the upcoming draft. They have their receiving core in place with other players like Marquess Wilson and Fendi Onobun waiting in the wings along with Michael Ford to challenge No. 2 running back Michael Bush. Maybe they draft a late-round quarterback. What are your thoughts? – Chuck D., Guilin, China
The core of this draft will have to be on defense but I don’t think general manager Phil Emery will blindly ignore some offensive holes that need to be filled. Wilson looks like he has some upside and I am anxious to see what he can do in his second season. I wouldn’t count on Onobun turning into a player and I believe the Bears need to carefully look at late-round possibilities at tight end because their depth at the position last season was insufficient. Remember, they used offensive tackle Eben Britton as a tight end for about two-thirds of the season. Maybe Ford can push for a No. 2 role but that is also a spot that could be filled in a variety of ways and if you like a running back late in the draft, why not take one? Drafting a center in the middle or late rounds is also a good idea unless the Bears have a strong feeling about Taylor Boggs, who served as Roberto Garza’s backup last season. There needs to be an infusion of some young talent on offense.