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.