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Chicago Bears Sit On The Fence Heading Toward Trade Deadline

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 22, 2021

Here’s the one truth for the Bears as they head toward the trade deadline: They would love to find a taker for third string quarterback Nick Foles.

But there’s no news there. This has been true since they landed Justin Fields in the draft, shortly after they signed Andy Dalton, giving them an oversized investment in quarterbacks unlikely to play in the Pro Bowl. It’s much tougher to know whether they will look to be sellers or buyers at the Nov. 3 deadline.

The Bears have had salary cap limitations since they invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball in players like Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. But they created some flexibility by restructuring contracts, including a revised deal with Quinn last week. 

The Bears were bumping against the salary cap before adding $3,512,500 in space by changing the terms of Quinn’s five-year, $70-million deal. The website Spotrac currently shows them $3,731,338 under the cap.

The NFL average total under the cap is currently $7,234,338. The teams with the most room are Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Denver, all of which have at least $15 million in space.

General Manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are under the gun to improve a team that has had a .500 record the last three years and hasn’t won a playoff game since beating Seattle in the divisional round in 2010. The Bears have changed coaches three times since then, and another change could be coming if they don’t show tangible improvement this season.

At 3-3, the Bears’ next two games — at Tampa Bay on Sunday, then home against San Francisco — could be crucial in establishing a direction.

The offensive line, which is missing second-round tackle Teven Jenkins, is the area most needing reinforcements. 

Pro Football Focus ranks none of the Bears’ offensive lineman highly, with center Sam Mustipher given the best grades. He is 29th among centers, per PFF. Guards James Daniels and Cody Whitehair are 45th and 73rd, respectively, with tackles Elijah Wilkinson and Jason Peters 52nd and 67th, respectively.

While the urgency to grab a playoff spot argues against diluting their depth, the Bears could be rewarded long term if they trade away some veterans. They used draft capital to put themselves in position to draft Fields, leaving them with only five picks in the 2022 draft, and could add to that by dealing one or two of their players who are headed toward free agency.

With Fields now established at quarterback, Foles and Dalton are the leading candidates for trades. Tight end Jimmy Graham is expendable but Pace would probably have to dig deeper to get a significant return. 

Wide receiver Allen Robinson, a disappointment thus far in 2021, and 31-year-old defensive line cornerstone Akiem Hicks would interest the league’s best teams. Robinson, for instance, would provide a needed target for Patrick Mahomes behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. 

The emergence of rookie running back Khalil Herbert could allow the Bears to make Damien Williams available once he’s re-established himself after testing positive for Covid-19. 

But can the Bears trade away useful parts, signifying a wait-till-next-year approach? Probably not.

The heat on Pace and Nagy suggests more of the short-term thinking that has left them as a middle-of-the-road franchise.


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