Bears Rumors

Bears To Play Both QBs In Preseason

The Bears will give significant reps to both Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky in the preseason, head coach Matt Nagy says (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). It’ll be a full-blown quarterback competition in Chicago, one that will have major implications for Trubisky’s future with the team.

The Bears turned down Trubisky’s fifth-year option earlier this month, putting the former No. 2 overall pick on course for free agency after the 2020 season. The option would have been guaranteed for injury only, but it was a risk the Bears weren’t willing to take. Trubisky finished 2019 with one of the lowest QBRs in the entire league, a step back from his Pro Bowl (alternate) campaign in 2018.

The Bears aren’t ready to give up on him just yet, but they did safeguard the position by trading for Foles, one of the league’s most coveted free agents of 2019. Foles’ first and only season in Jacksonville was derailed by injury and he’s got extra incentive to deliver in Chicago. If the veteran meets certain performance thresholds, he can void his deal early and cash in all over again.

Foles went 0-4 in his 2019 starts, completing 65.8% of his throws for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Before that, he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl ring in the 2017 season and turned in more memorable moments for the Birds in 2018. With the Bears, Foles will have the opportunity to reclaim his status as one of the league’s greatest clutch performers. But, first, he’ll have to duke it out with Trubisky.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Notes: Trubisky, RB, Ginn

Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t have been happy about the Bears‘ decision to decline his fifth-year option, but he didn’t react poorly to the news. At least, that’s what GM Ryan Pace claimed in an interview on 670 The Score.

We’ve always had the approach where we’re honest and we’re truthful with our players and with our staff, then we move on and we get to work,” Pace said. “That’s where it’s at. Mitch gets it. Everyone’s competing. Everyone’s focused on better results. That’s the entire team. We believe in Mitch. That doesn’t change. You can point to Kyle Fuller as a great example of a player who didn’t get his option exercised. I’d think we would say that worked out well for him and for us.”

The Bears could have extended quarterback’s deal through 2021 at cost of $24.8MM. Even though that sum would have only been guaranteed for injury, Pace turned down the option. Just three short years ago, the Bears traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 to get the UNC standout. However, he’s been inconsistent as a pro, and the success of Patrick Mahomes (the No. 10 pick in the 2017 draft) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12) have only underscored his struggles.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. In 2018, Trubisky finished with 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions and a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. In 2019, he regressed and finished 28th the bottom in QBR. This year, he’ll look to get his career back on track and inspire confidence in the Bears’ front office.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • There’s been some talk about the Bears’ need for a veteran running back, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune isn’t too worked up about it, noting the continued availability of players like Carlos Hyde, who ran for over 1,000 yards last year. For now, they’ve got Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery leading the way with Ryan Nall and UDFAs Artavis Pierce and Napoleon Maxwell rounding out the group.
  • New Bears wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is entering his 14th season as a pro, but he says he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. “I can run. I can still run,” Ginn told reporters this week (via Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic). “That’s my attribute. I can run, I can catch, I can jump, I can do everything that I can possibly do to be a receiver.” Fishbain agrees and sees Ginn as a solution to one of the Bears’ biggest problems from last year. In 2019, the Bears averaged a league-low 5.67 yards per pass, down from a respectable 6.96 in 2018. With top-end speed, Ginn can give them a boost.
  • Despite some previous rumblings, the Bears are not planning to pursue free agent guard Larry Warford. Warford will have to find work elsewhere as he seeks a deal worth $7MM per year.

Contract Details: 5/13/20

We will round up the contract details of recent signings/restructures right here as they come in today:

  • Ted Ginn Jr, WR (Bears): One year. Veteran salary benefit worth $1.187MM. $137.5K signing bonus, $1.05MM salary ($750K guaranteed). Cap charge of $887,500 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Cooper Rush, QB (Giants): Restructure. One-year, $1.25MM. $100K signing bonus. $900K salary ($50K guaranteed). Up to $250K in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).

Clearly, while Rush got some guaranteed cash through his restructure — as opposed to the non-guaranteed $2.113MM tender he was scheduled to play on — it “only” amounts to $150K. So that may not tell us too much about Big Blue’s plans for him.

Contract Details: Jets, Charlton, Gipson

Some assorted contract details to pass along:

  • Tashaun Gipson, S (Bears): One year. Deal is worth $1.05MM, including $550K in guaranteed money. Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter.
  • Johnathan Joseph, CB (Titans): One year. Deal is worth $2MM, including $1.5MM guaranteed. Additional $500K in “reachable incentives” and another $750K in standard incentives. Contract worth a maximum of $3.25MM. Via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com on Twitter and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network on Twitter.
  • Frank Gore, RB (Jets): One year. Deal is worth $1.05MM, including $200K guaranteed. Cap charge of $750K. Via Pelissero on Twitter and ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Twitter.
  • Jordan Jenkins, LB (Jets): One-year. Deal is worth $3.75MM. $3.25MM in guaranteed money, including $1.75MM signing bonus and $1.5MM base salary. $500K in roster bonuses, $250K in “likely to be earned” incentives. Via Cimini on Twitter.
  • Taco Charlton, DE (Chiefs): One year. Deal is worth $825K. Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • Devontae Booker, RB (Raiders): Signed. One year deal worth veteran salary benefit ($887.5K cap charge). Includes $50K signing bonus. Via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter.

Bears Won’t Pursue Larry Warford

Bears fans have been clamoring for the team to improve its offensive line after that unit disappointed in 2019, but Chicago did not make many investments in the front five either in free agency or the draft. And it looks like that trend will continue.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune indicated that the Bears were considering a pursuit of former Saints guard Larry Warford after Warford’s release on Friday, but according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Chicago is no longer in the market for Warford. It’s unclear if Warford’s asking price is too high or if GM Ryan Pace is content with his personnel as is, but in any event, the soon-to-be 29-year-old will not end up in the Windy City.

The Bears inked former Seahawks first-rounder Germain Ifedi in March and added two offensive linemen in the seventh round of the draft, but the club’s O-line will largely look like it did last year. Ifedi, who was signed to a veteran minimum pact, will compete for the starting RG role along with Rashaad Coward.

Warford, who was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his three years with the Saints, would represent a marked upgrade over Ifedi and Coward, but Chicago is hopeful that it can help Ifedi reach his potential by kicking him into the interior of the line. Meanwhile, the Texans presumably remain in the hunt for Warford, and other teams are surely interested in his services as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Release Larry Warford

The Saints released guard Larry Warford on Friday in a move that cleared $7MM+ from the salary cap. As expected, the multiple-time Pro Bowler is already drawing interest from teams. The Texans are one club that’s already considering Larry Warford, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Same goes for the Bears, who would offer considerably more upside than new pickup Germain Ifedi.

[RELATED: Saints To Be Sanctioned for Tommy Stevens Pursuit?]

Warford, 29 in June, has earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the last three seasons. However, the Pro Bowl selection process for offensive linemen tends to be less than scientific, and Sean Payton was less than thrilled with his performance in 2019. The Saints made that crystal clear late last month when they drafted interior lineman Cesar Ruiz in the first round. Ditto for their re-signing of Andrus Peat on a five-year, $57.5MM deal in March. Ruiz will now battle with Erik McCoy – a center, by trade – for a starting guard spot on the line.

Before the release, Warford was set to play out the final season of the four-year, $34MM deal he inked as a free agent in 2017. Now released, Warford will count for $5.125MM in dead money against the cap, but they’ll save $7.75MM in cap dollars.

Warford scored that deal off of the strength of his play in Detroit. As a third-round pick of the Lions, he went on to start in all 57 of his games and he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 20th-best guard in his walk year.

The Texans could use a guy like Warford, who could supplant Zach Fulton as their top right guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Griffen, Robinson, Bengals

Everson Griffen is one of the top two pass rushers still on the market, and we heard last month that he would probably not re-sign with the Vikings. However, Minnesota did not do much to add to its pass rushing corps in the draft, with South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum representing the most notable addition. And while GM Rick Spielman acknowledged that his team’s cap space makes it difficult to bring Griffen back, he did not rule it out.

“It is hard to say right now where everything is at and where we are at, [but] until things become more normalized I will never say never on a player,” Spielman recently said on the #PFTPM podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “[Y]our roster is never set.”

Griffen has expressed an interest in joining the Seahawks, but Seattle is still open to bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. If Clowney returns to the ‘Hawks, perhaps Griffen will settle for a one-year deal on a Minnesota defense that he will not have to learn on the fly.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Of the three OTs the Vikings added in this year’s draft, only second-rounder Ezra Cleveland profiles as an immediate threat to incumbent LT Riley Reiff. The team could again entertain the notion of kicking Reiff inside to LG, but that’s only if Cleveland proves himself ready for starting left tackle duties, which would be a tall order given the COVID-19 restrictions. So as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune suggests, Reiff will likely stay at LT for the time being, and 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia will compete with Pat Elflein for the starting LG slot. The team could also target a free agent for that role, including Josh Kline, whom the Vikings released in a cost-cutting move in March.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson said towards the end of last season that he is interested in an extension with Chicago, but the two sides do not appear to be close to a new deal, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Robinson is ticketed for free agency after the 2020 campaign, and Biggs suggests that the franchise tag could be in play if there is no extension in place by the second month of the season.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says both A.J. Green and the Bengals have interest in getting a long-term deal done, but it’s unclear exactly how much interest. He expects that nothing will come together prior to the July 15 deadline, which means Green will have to play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender. While there’s a better chance Cincinnati comes to terms with RB Joe Mixon on a new contract, that will not happen before a decision on Green is made. The Bengals are reportedly bracing themselves for a Mixon holdout.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner says the Bengals are unlikely to make any free agent additions to the O-line at this point. In a separate piece, he notes that Cincinnati made a free agent splash on cornerbacks in free agency because it did not like this year’s CB draft class. The team did not take a defensive back with any of its seven selections.

Bears To Decline Mitchell Trubisky’s Fifth-Year Option

The Bears will not exercise Mitchell Trubisky‘s fifth-year option, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

This will put the scrutinized former No. 2 overall pick in a contract year. Chicago acquired Nick Foles from Jacksonville this offseason. Although the Bears have liked Trubisky’s attitude since Foles’ arrival and are set to make this an open competition, per Pelissero, they are passing on extending his contract through 2021. This was the expected course of action, and the Bears are following through with it.

Because Trubisky was a top-10 pick, his option would have come in at $24.8MM. Based on the fourth-year quarterback’s track record, that price is quite lofty. While the Buccaneers and Titans respectively picked up Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota‘s options last year, the Bears are passing on their respective top-three draftee.

GM Ryan Pace pulled the trigger on a one-spot trade-up for Trubisky, climbing from No. 3 to No. 2 in 2017. At that point, Trubisky was viewed as a top-caliber prospect. But the one-year North Carolina starter has not lived up to expectations. The fact that Patrick Mahomes (pick No. 10) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12) have lapped the Bears starter has opened the door for endless scrutiny. Because Watson was picked 12th, his fifth-year option will come in at $17.5MM.

Trubisky regressed last season, finishing 28th in QBR. This prompted the Bears to bring in competition. They were close to an Andy Dalton trade before acquiring Foles later in March. The former Super Bowl LII MVP is viewed as the favorite to be Chicago’s starter this coming season. That would torpedo Trubisky’s value in free agency.

In 2018, Trubisky posted a 95.4 quarterback rating and threw for 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions en route to a Pro Bowl nod (as an alternate). Last year, however, marked a step back. Trubisky threw 17 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions, and the Bears’ talented defense couldn’t make up for the offense’s shortcomings. The Bears went 8-7 in Trubisky’s 15 starts and finished .500 on the season, leaving them short of the postseason. Trubisky also battled hip and shoulder injuries, the latter requiring surgery.

Myles Garrett is the only member of 2017’s top five to see his fifth-year option exercised. Trubisky, 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Titans wideout Corey Davis are now on track for 2021 free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.