Chicago Bears: Tarik Cohen, Eddie Goldman set to be released

eddie goldman, bears

Lake Forest, Ill.– Less than 24 hours after trading away star pass rusher Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears first-year general manager Ryan Poles wasted no time on Friday afternoon, making more veteran cuts. Around noon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the team was set to move on from running back Tarik Cohen, and hours later, news of Eddie Goldman’s release would follow.

Moving on from Goldman and Cohen brings signals, even more, change for the Bears organization. The Bears are now Poles team and the serious yet stoic 36-year old GM is fit to do whatever he pleases with the Bears roster. Chicago will now look forward to an offseason that will be more about building the foundation for years to come, rather than trying to compete in 2022.

Cohen, a 2017 fourth-round pick missed the entire 2021 season after rehabbing a torn ACL that he sustained returning a punt during week three of the 2020 season in a road game against the Atlanta Falcons. The move will save the Bears roughly $2.2M in cap space but incur a dead cap charge of $3.5M for the 2022 offseason. His career in Chicago comes to an end after 22 starts, 1575 receiving yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

Goldman, a 2015 second-round pick and the third longest-tenured Bears entering the 2021 season, opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. When Goldman returned to the team in 2021, there was uncertainty about whether or not he would play but would end up starting 10 games in 2021. His time with the Bears finishes after seven seasons, starting 73 total games.

As the Bears get ready to rebuild the roster, Poles’ message is clear by moving on from Goldman and Cohen. The Bears aren’t expected to be competitive in 2022 and the franchise is already looking ahead to 2023, with the vision being to build around second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

Chicago Bears: What’s next after Khalil Mack’s trade?

khalil mack, bears

Lake Forest, Ill.– With the Chicago Bears trading star pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers, the outlook of the defense remains significantly changed. With a different outlook come different expectations. Now, on paper, the Bears have just middle linebacker Roquan Smith as a legitimate building block.

While veterans Eddie Jackson and Robert Quinn are still under contract, the Bears trading Mack signals the end of an era and one where the franchise will need to rebuild the defense, hoping to find the next generation of Bears.

But there’s a unique catch to the Mack trade. Trading Mack isn’t about trading an aging defensive superstar who’s dealt with injuries over the last three seasons. It’s about creating some additional cap space, roughly $6M while acquiring an extra set of draft picks, to help first-year general manager Ryan Poles rebuild the roster.

When Mack arrived in Chicago just a week before the start of the 2018 season, expectations were sky high. The Bears, winners of the NFL offseason at the time would go 12-4, and all seemed well in Chicago. Glory days appeared to be ahead with a Super Bowl title likely on the way. Instead, the Bears would flounder, going 8-8 in back-to-back seasons, with the Bears making two playoff appearances with no victories to show.

Fast forward to 2021 and the Bears would face a bleak reality. Mack would be injured, miss the rest of the season, and eventually shipped off the following offseason with the Bears opting to eat $24M in dead money as a means of unloading Mack’s hefty contract. It’s a move that hurts the Bears now but gives the franchise ample flexibility in the future.

It’s flexibility that will be used to build the next great Bears defense, whenever that may be. Trading the face of the Bears defense is a bold move by Poles, who’s automatically being held to a higher standard compared to his predecessor, Ryan Pace, who was instrumental in trading for Mack.

Poles has turned the page on Mack’s tenure in Chicago, a move he’ll be judged by. Should Mack go onto succeed in Los Angeles while Poles fails to get the Bears back to relevance, there will be questions about Poles’ approach, including why even bother to ship off your star defensive player.

 

Chicago Bears move on from Khalil Mack in shocking trade

khalil mack, bears

Lake Forest, Ill.– What appeared to be a relatively quiet afternoon for the Chicago Bears soon turned out to be quite surprising. In his first big move as the Bears general manager, Ryan Poles opted to move 31-year old pass rusher, Khalil Mack, in a trade that would net the Bears an additional second-round pick in 2022 and a sixth-round pick in 2023.

For the Bears, the implications of this trade are simple: Moving on from Mack and sending the star pass rusher to the Los Angeles Chargers gives the Bears some much-needed draft capital in a year where the franchise was only projected to have five total draft picks.

Now, the Bears have three picks in the top 100, two second-round picks, and a sixth-round pick, giving Poles some additional draft ammunition to invest into the offensive side of the ball. Los Angeles is also set to take on all of Mack’s contract, which is set to be $69.3M over the next three seasons.

When the Bears traded for Mack just a week prior to the 2018 season beginning, former Bears GM Ryan Pace gave up two first-round picks in the process with the hope of opening the Bears’ Super Bowl window. While Mack and the Bears never won a playoff game, the Bears’ defense was more than solid throughout Mack’s four-year tenure in Chicago.

Mack will finish out his Bears season having played in 53 games, totaling 36.0 sacks, 163 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 52 quarterback hits, and 14 forced fumbles. While his 2021 season was cut short due to a foot injury, Mack also battled back and knee injuries throughout 2019 and 2020, often playing, despite not being at full strength.

The writing seemed to be on the wall for the Bears and Mack once Poles arrived. While Mack still has a number of productive seasons left, Poles shipping Mack off makes something clear: The Bears aren’t willing to go ahead and gamble on an aging superstar who’s seen a decline in production over the last three years while being unable to stay healthy.

 

How attractive is the Chicago Bears HC job in 2022?

Ryan Pace, bears

CHICAGO, IL–Just two weeks remain before the Chicago Bears officially move on from head coach Matt Nagy and begin searching for the 17th head coach in franchise history. With Nagy on his way out, the future of general manager Ryan Pace remains uncertain, with the possibility of a return not off the table.

The Bears brass being split on what to do with Pace leads to an intriguing question: If Pace is allowed a third head coach, just how attractive is the Bears head coaching gig in 2022? With rookie quarterback, Justin Fields in the fold through at least the 2024 season, any new head coach would be guaranteed at least three seasons.

Then consider the rest of the offense. The Bears have some upcoming talent in offensive tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, running back Khalil Herbert, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Cole Kmet. Add that to an offensive core that already includes interior offensive lineman James Daniels and Cody Whitehair, along with running back David Montgomery, and it’s clear the Bears offense has the potential to be exciting.

Defense is a different story for the Bears, one that will require a full retooling. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, linebacker Roquan Smith, pass rusher Khalil Mack, and safety Eddie Jackson form an exciting core. While 11th-year pass rusher Robert Quinn is on the verge of setting the franchise’s single-season sack record, Quinn likely won’t be with the Bears beyond 2022. The Bears’ willingness to rely heavily on defense throughout the Nagy era will soon be met with an overhaul that will form the foundation of the next great defense in Chicago.

Consider this too: Chicago is an original charter franchise of the NFL and in the third biggest market in the United States, the thought of merely getting the Bears back to relevance should excite prospective candidates. With a handful of jobs set to be open soon, the Bears surely offer one of the most enticing destinations for head coaches who are looking to win quickly and get a prominent franchise back to contention.

Chicago Bears: Week 11 takeaways, quick tidbits, and more

andy dalton, bears

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Chicago Bears now look ahead to week 12 for a Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Detroit Lions. But first, let’s recap week 11.

1) There are two players of the game in this one, both on defense. Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith kept the Bears in this one, especially with the defense missing Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson. Props to Quinn for turning in such a monstrous performance with 3.5 sacks, five tackles, three TFL, and four QB hits. Smith had 17 tackles on the afternoon, the most by a Bears linebacker since 2009.

2) Regarding Justin Fields, who has bruised ribs, the Bears have a decision to make. If it were in Fields hands, he’d be dressing up on Thursday afternoon against the Lions. Ultimately, with seven games remaining, the Bears should play it safe with Fields and sit him in a meaningless game. Give the future of the franchise a little over 10 days to get right before the Arizona Cardinals come to town on December 5th. It’s better for the Bears to have Fields healthy for the final six games of the season, a stretch that includes playing the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings (twice).

3) The Bears got away from the running game early in this one and it showed. Khalil Herbert had just one carry for zero yards while David Montgomery had 14 carries for 58 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Keeping the ball out of the Ravens’ hand should’ve been a goal of the Bears but Chicago failed to do so consistently throughout the afternoon. The Bears coaching staff needs to realize that neither Fields nor Andy Dalton can fully the offense, which means knowing your limitations of what skill position players can and can’t do is vital when it comes to offensive philosophy.

4) At times, it may not have looked like it but wide receiver Darnell Mooney had a game. Mooney’s quickly establishing a reputation as a big-play threat in the Bears offense. With five receptions for 121 receiving yards, averaging 24.2 yards per reception, the second-year wide receiver made his presence felt all afternoon, especially on a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton.

5) This was what you could consider the Marquise Goodwin breakout game. Goodwin added to the Bears’ explosiveness on offense, with four receptions for 104 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears the lead late in the fourth quarter. This game needs to serve as an example of how the Bears can continue to utilize Goodwin moving forward.

6) The Bears struggled to execute consistently but another issue is playing good situational football. Matt Nagy needs to understand the Bears aren’t getting the job done right now and much of it is due to coaches being able to react in situations. An example of this is when the Bears burned a timeout with 1:41 left to go in the fourth quarter after failing to convert a two-point conversion.

7) The Bears also struggled to get off the field on third down in this game. Baltimore was 7-for-16 on Sunday afternoon, with the game’s biggest play coming on a 3rd-and-12 where Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 0:33 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears defense has struggled to consistently get off the field on third down this season and it’s only going to get harder over the final seven weeks of the season with Mack being out.

8) Speaking of giving up a big gain on 3rd-and-12, guess what? The Bears’ secondary isn’t very good without Eddie Jackson but Jaylon Johnson had a nice showing. Second-year CB Kindle Vildor got rocked all afternoon while Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson were beaten as a result of miscommunication. The entire unit needs an overhaul in 2021 with just Jackson and Johnson guaranteed to start.

9) What does this loss mean for the Bears? Well, Chicago’s final seven games are against NFC North opponents. But understand the Bears were on the outside looking playoff-wise heading into week 11. This latest loss digs the Bears even deeper into a hole that’s getting harder to get out of.

10) For the rest of the season, nothing matters for the Bears except seeing what sticks on the wall for 2022 and beyond. Essentially, for the Bears, 2022 has already started despite 2021 not being over yet. The Bears’ future is already on the roster in Fields but the front office needs to figure out who’s staying in 2022 in an effort to build around Fields. That means taking a hard look at players and more importantly coaches.

Chicago Bears: Losing streak now at five games after latest loss

bears, matt nagy

What seemed to be a relatively competitive game for the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon got away very quickly in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. After failing to score on the first six possessions, the Bears finally managed to get on the board after wide receiver Darnell Mooney scored a 60-yard touchdown with just 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

With rookie quarterback Justin Fields leaving the game due to an injury and then being ruled out, the Bears were forced to turn to veteran Andy Dalton, who tossed two second-half touchdowns, including a 49-yard pass touchdown to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 4th-and-11.

Veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, who is in the second year of a five-year $70M contract signed in 2020 made an impact all afternoon. With Khalil Mack sidelined for the remainder of the year due to a foot injury, Quinn totaled five tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and four quarterback hits, making his presence felt from the beginning.

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Bears’ final seven opponents will be against NFC teams. However, this latest loss to the Ravens stings merely because Chicago seemed to be in the game until the very final possession when Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, running back Devonta Freeman scored a three-yard rushing touchdown to give Baltimore the lead.

Despite being shorthanded with no Allen Robinson, Eddie Jackson, or Akiem Hicks, the Bears did all a three-win team could to try and stay competitive but ultimately, a missed field goal in the first half by kicker Cairo Santos and an inability to execute in key situations made the difference in the Bears latest loss. With the Bears scheduled to play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, the opportunity to snap a five-game losing streak presents itself.

Chicago Bears: How can the Bears win in week 11?

Currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the second half of the Chicago Bears season will begin on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Bears, who have won two straight games against Baltimore dating back to 2013 will have another opportunity to get in the win column.

On paper and on the field, the Ravens are just as good as advertised. Led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, the offense features a number of weapons, including wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. On defense, Baltimore is one of the most talented in the NFL, a unit that features defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, LB Patrick Queen, and defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Anthony Averett.

To slow the Ravens down, the Bears will need to slow Jackson down. That means consistently blitzing Jackson while also having a linebacker spy him at all times. The Bears could be forced to turn to reinforcements, as Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. However, luckily for the Bears, Baltimore is coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins, with a template for how to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offense.

“Give them different looks and get pressure, said CB Jaylon Johnson via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I thought they did that pretty much all game was sending constant pressure making the ball come out high, making them really go through their route progression. I mean it’s kind of hard to do that when you got six and seven people coming so I mean it, really they just I mean had a good game plan the Ravens didn’t adjust.”

What’s noteworthy is the Bears haven’t won a game out of the bye week dating back to at least 2013. Being 0-3 under head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t bode well either for a HC who’s fighting for his job at this point. The Bears will need to complement the defense’s game plan by being able to consistently move the ball efficiently on offense in order to have a chance on Sunday afternoon.

Chicago Bears: Wednesday injury report a major concern

On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Bears released their first injury report in nearly two weeks ahead of Sunday’s home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. For a team that’s currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the Bears’ first injury report of the week wasn’t encouraging, with key starters on both offense and defense being injured.

Heading into a crucial matchup against the Ravens, the following Bears starters are injured: Akiem Hicks (ankle), Khalil Mack (foot), Eddie Jackson (hamstring), Allen Robinson (hamstring), Danny Trevathan (knee), Darnell Mooney (foot), and Alec Ogletree (ankle).

Of the names listed above, only Mooney and Ogletree were limited in practice on Wednesday, while the rest of the names were listed as did not practice. Looking at Hicks, Mack, and Jackson, the Bears’ defense would be short-handed on all three levels. Mack provides a stable presence as a pass rusher and tone-setter, while Jackson has covered up many holes in the Bears secondary throughout 2021.

The injuries to Mooney and Robinson are concerning for the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. While the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has continued to develop chemistry with both wide receivers, Mooney’s connection with Fields is more important. As Fields continues to develop, Mooney is currently the only WR slated to be on the roster in 2022, with Robinson set to hit free agency in the upcoming offseason.

Other injuries to monitor include running back Damien Williams (knee), tight end J.P. Holtz (concussion), and kicker Cairo Santos (elbow). While Williams, was limited in practice on Wednesday, Holtz and Santos were full participants. This means it’s more than likely both Santos and Holtz will be ready to go in Sunday’s contest against the Ravens. Chicago could merely be precautionary and choose not to have Williams dress, especially with the emergence of rookie running back Khalil Herbert, who has burst onto the scene in 2021.

The Bears will release two final injury reports on Thursday and Friday ahead of Sunday morning when the inactives list will be announced just over an hour before kickoff.

Chicago Bears: What did the first half of 2021 teach us?

david montgomery, bears

With the Chicago Bears officially on a bye week, the first half of the season has wrapped up and with just eight games remaining, the Bears face an uphill climb to make the playoffs in 2021.

Much has been made of the first half of the Bears season. There have been ups but also downs and while 2021 is all about the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears 2022 offseason is taking shape.

The Bears’ first half has shown us that looking ahead to 2022, much of the roster remains unresolved with impending free agents that include WR Allen Robinson, guard James Daniels, and DE Bilal Nichols. Chicago’s best hope is that Daniels and Nichols market is cheaper than originally expected with Robinson likely on the way out.

While Fields continues to be a bright spot on offense, much like the Bears running game. Chicago’s offensive line has struggled with Center Sam Mustipher being a weak link. When head coach Matt Nagy mentions self-reflection, this should include looking at the offensive line and reshuffling the interior. That means moving veteran Cody Whitehair back to center and inserting Alex Bars into the starting lineup.

As a vertical passing game, Fields improved chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney was on display in week nine. This is a connection that needs more growth with the hope that Mooney and Fields are on the same page by seasons’ end.

Then there’s the defense. Without Khalil Mack for two straight games, Chicago struggled to generate any consistent pass rush while holes in the secondary were visible. Second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has taken a leap and safety Eddie Jackson remains an asset in coverage but a liability as an open field tackler. Veteran Robert Quinn continues to have a resurgent season but still needs to be consistent during the second half of the season.

The Bears 2021 season has showed that work remains to be done. Fields makes Chicago’s future bright and the Bears have a quarterback. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Bears can build around Fields, using the rest of 2021 as a roster evaluation to build a plan around Fields as soon as 2022 arrives.

Assessing the Chicago Bears at the trade deadline

Ryan Pace, bears

As soon as 3:00 pm CST hit on Tuesday afternoon, the 2021 NFL trade deadline has officially with the Chicago Bears opting to make no moves, further cementing the front office’s belief that the 2021 roster is good enough to compete for a playoff spot. To note, Bears general manager Ryan Pace has made just one trade in his seven-year tenrue

The annual winner or loser mantra is back when it comes to the NFL trade deadline. Ultimately, with the Bears opting not to sell, the question needs to be asked: Are the Bears losers at the trade deadline?

For a team that’s struggled through the first eight games of the 2021 regular season, key players on the Bears roster such as wide receiver Allen Robinson and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks were the subject of trade rumors, as was running back David Montgomery, who has been on injured reserve due to a sprained knee.

How one views the Bears moving forward by making no moves is certainly a point of contention. One viewpoint is Pace is confident in the Bears roster and ready to continue compete in 2021. The other viewpoint is the Bears didn’t sell because the market was dry but Chicago wants to keep the roster intact for Justin Fields development.

The 11th overall pick certainly needs as much talent on the roster to continue being successful but the Bears also needs to understand selling assets in 2021 could’ve been key for the Bears to build around Fields in 2022 and beyond.

Robinson and Hicks could’ve been shipped off for mid-round picks, which would’ve beefed up Chicago’s limited trove of day two and three draft picks. With no first or fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears will once again be tasked with making the most of limited draft capital.

The Bears unwillingness to ship off players with expiring contracts shouldn’t go unnoticed. For now, Pace continues to hope every domino will fall in the right direction and the Bears sneak into the playoffs. However, if not, Pace will need to dig the Bears out a hole that was created by the much-lambasted general manager.