We're roughly one week into the offseason, and Kareem Hunt was already signed by the Browns, Kyler Murray already fully committed to football and Joe Flacco's trade has insanely been agreed to in Denver.
In Chicago? Crickets.
As recently as one year ago, Bears fans would already be squirming — and with good reason coming off four consecutive dumpster-fire seasons. Yet with their 12-4 division-title campaign still fresh in our brains, albeit alongside the sound of Cody Parkey doinks, the Bears have earned some goodwill and patience from their fan base.
It's a good problem to have, but that doesn't mean it won't require a bit of adjusting.
Preceding those four dumpster-fire regular seasons under Ryan Pace, was a slew of high-profile and rapid-fire roster makeovers generating excitement. For instance, only last offseason, the Bears had committed more than $61 million guaranteed to Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel ... before the legal tampering window had even closed.
Pace doled out monster deals with similar speediness two years earlier, when he overhauled the ILB corps with Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman and stabilized the RT post with Bobby Massie.
And he's attacked his drafts with a similarly aggressive approach, trading up in either Round 1 or Round 2 in three of his four years at the controls, including to address the two most important positions on the field — passer and pass rusher. It has consistently made for riveting offseasons, if not spawning the immediate desired on-field results.
Now the Bears (and their fans) must learn to go from being the offseason aggressors to patiently shopping at the bargain bins and putting their draft emphasis on Days 2 and 3, not picking in the top 10, as Pace did in his first four years.
Chicago is currently slated to have only $5.9 million in cap space, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Sure, Pace will create $6 million when he dumps Dion Sims and could have a surprise or two up his sleeve creating potential short-term savings by cutting Sam Acho ($2 million) or restructuring Kyle Long.
But he won't be active in free agency, instead likely focusing on retaining his own, and a trade in the first two rounds this April is highly unlikely. The good news (besides entering said offseason in the role of title defenders) is that the Bears don't have many pressing needs, but they do have a couple attractive free agents, Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos, with whom to negotiate.
It's a new arena for Pace, who fortunately has done some of his best work in the latter portion of drafts, actually unearthed a few of his better free-agent finds on the cheap (Tracy Porter and Akiem Hicks) and has shown an eye for re-signing the right guys at the right times. But make no mistake: The Patriots created a dynasty not only by zigging while others zag but being shrewd and forward thinking.
No, your team won't be one of the big spenders this offseason, but it can still be one of the big winners. (Heck, some would argue they've already won by not being the team that signed Hunt.) How well Pace adjusts this offseason, and how well he plugs a few remaining holes with minimal resources, might not be as entertaining to watch, but it will be every bit as important in the Bears' transition from hunters to hunted.