LAKE FOREST – On Wednesday, the Chicago Bears replaced Mitchell Trubisky with Andy Dalton, a move uninspiring to all and disappointing to many.
Not so much because Trubisky is gone but because Dalton appears to offer so little in his place.
Thursday we began to understand the real ramifications of the move.
First the Bears released Kyle Fuller, the third best player on their team after Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson and a critical veteran voice in their locker room, the equivalent of a kick in the groin to most of the team’s fans and many of Fuller’s now former teammates in order to squeeze Dalton under the salary cap.
Next we learned Ryan Pace is also doing what he can to offload Akiem Hicks, an even bigger presence in the locker room and the fourth best player on his team to create more cap space.
Let’s pause here for a moment.
It’s one thing to use the value of Fuller and Hicks to try and institute a new plan for success, the plan could work and we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
But it’s pretty close to criminal negligence to show two of your best players the door and get absolutely nothing of value in return other than cap space, particularly if it leads to more and bigger mistakes.
So what is the additional cap space for?
It appears that at least as I write this, the Bears are in hot pursuit of Kenny Golladay, a local kid out of St. Rita High School and Northern Illinois University who is the best player remaining in free agency, other than now Fuller, and is seeking $18.5 million a year, about a half million more than Robinson will get for playing under the franchise tag this year and he wants it for multiple seasons.
Don’t choke folks, he won’t get that or close to it on a multi-year deal in this market and because he’s a home town kid the Bears may just have a shot, although the facts that Dalton says he’s the starter and A-Rob would still be the number one probably don’t help.
Or is that the plan at wide receiver?
Could the Bears look to trade Robinson – you’d love to get a one but a two and a three is probably more realistic – anticipating what is supposed to be a legendary wide receiver draft, use their first and day two picks to take a quarterback of the future, offensive tackle and take an exciting pass catching prospect on day one or day two to pair with Golladay and Darnell Mooney and then have Robinson’s cap space to address other needs?
That would be disappointing because Robinson, perhaps the most important voice in the locker room after Hicks and Fuller is a clear number one receiver while Golloday appears to be a one-and-a-half or two, but it could be the plan.
It seems obvious Pace and Matt Nagy have decided being one of the best defenses in the league but one of the worst offenses isn’t going to work so they’re going to try and build a top offense to pair with a defense that will be good enough but could be worse.
Friday’s news that they are signing Desmond Trufant to fill Fuller’s spot is nice but it feels kind of like trading Eddie Murphy for Carrot Top.
Hopefully no one will get hurt in the fall.
The full scope of the problem is the Bears are still well short of being set at corner with Buster Skrine also gone.
They have no starting safety next to Eddie Jackson.
If Hicks does go it will leave a massive hole up front, and there is now zero depth at linebacker, inside or out.
There is still no good answer at quarterback for the present, and no plan at all we’ve seen yet for the future.
And most importantly, with whatever they’ve done the offense is going nowhere without a significant upgrade to the line and depth at running back, and the offensive line remains unchanged.
Does anyone see the assets to repair all of that?
I am not a fan of jigsaw puzzles but I am fascinated to see the next few pieces and how the Bears hope to complete this one.