Mitch Trubisky

NFC Notes: Panthers, Norman, Dez, Trubisky

Dave Gettleman‘s ouster as the Panthers general manager stands as this week’s most shocking NFL story, and Joe Person and Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer detail some of the reasons behind his firing. Gettleman’s “brusque management style” and his reshaping of Carolina’s roster after its 15-1, NFC-winning campaign in 2015 contributed to his demise, with his decision to rescind cornerback Josh Norman‘s franchise tag in 2016 helping to decide his fate. Letting Norman loose on the free agent market meant allowing a No. 1-caliber corner to walk away without the club receiving compensation, and it irked some of the team’s players.

A year later, the departure of ex-assistant general manager Brandon Beane also weakened Gettleman’s grip on the GM job. Beane took over as Buffalo’s GM in May, which cost Gettleman the good cop to his bad cop. The loss of Beane negatively affected Gettleman’s work relationships, according to Person and Fowler, as the former “acted as a go-between among the front office, coaching staff and locker room,” the reporters explain. Former Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert, who signed with the Bills after Gettleman released him in February, confirmed that Beane was a valuable figure in Carolina. “As players we all love Beane. We all love being around him,” said Tolbert. “He’s part of the reason we did what we did. I’m happy to have him in Buffalo now, I can tell you that much.”

More from the NFC:

  • Speaking of Norman, who’s now with the Redskins, he could end up as a cap casualty next offseason if he doesn’t make more of an impact this year, suggests Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. With 14 infractions, Norman led the league in penalties last year, Tandler points out. However, it seems he has otherwise lived up to Washington’s five-year, $75MM investment thus far. Norman picked off three passes and forced two fumbles last season – a slight drop-off from four and three, respectively, in 2015 – started all 16 games, easily led Redskins defenders in snaps (1,057) and ranked 24th among Pro Football Focus’ 109 qualified corners. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that designating the soon-to-be 30-year-old Norman a post-June 1 cut in 2018 would save the Redskins a healthy $14MM and leave them with a manageable $3MM in dead money next season.
  • A lack of punctuality has been a problem for Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant throughout his career, and his issues with reporting to team functions on time have already cropped up this year. Bryant made it to training camp three hours late on Friday, relays Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, though the player informed Jane Slater of NFL Network that he has been dealing with sinus infections and headaches. He’s now working with the Cowboys’ training staff to alleviate his sinus troubles, adds Rapoport. Further, Bryant apologized to Cowboys coaches and “took full responsibility” for his tardiness, writes Slater, but it’s still likely the team will fine him, reports Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram (Twitter links here).
  • Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky‘s rookie contract contains partial offsets, tweets Albert Breer of The MMQB. His deal is similar to the one Marcus Mariota signed with the Titans in 2015, when he, like Trubisky this year, entered the league as the second overall pick in his draft class. Mariota and the Titans agreed to make his base salaries (a total of $2.28MM) subject to offsets, but the vast majority of his $24.214MM pact is protected.
  • Cardinals running back Chris Johnson‘s one-year deal includes a $1MM base value, $200K in guarantees and a chance to earn more in incentives, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Bears Sign Mitch Trubisky

The Bears have signed first round pick Mitch Trubisky, according to a team announcement. It’s good timing for both sides as Bears rookies report to training camp today.

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Even as the two sides took additional time to come to an accord, Trubisky made it clear that he would not be training camp holdout a la Joey Bosa.

“I’m not going to miss any practices or anything like that,” Trubisky said in late June. “I’m excited to sign my contract as soon as possible, however that goes down. But I don’t see that being held out through training camp; even if it did, I’m going to be practicing and all that. I’m looking forward to getting it done as soon as possible. I’m a Chicago Bear, no matter if they let me sign or what. I guess not, but I am.”

The Bears shocked the world in April by not only selecting Trubisky with their top pick, but trading up from No. 3 overall to No. 2 for the right to do it. Switching places with the 49ers cost picks No. 67 and No. 111 in the 2017 draft, plus a 2018 a third-round pick.

The pressure is on for Trubisky, though it won’t necessarily be felt right away. For now, the plan is for free agent acquisition Mike Glennon to be the Bears’ starter while Trubisky learns from the bench.

The deal leaves us with six unsigned first round picks: defensive lineman Solomon Thomas (49ers), wide receiver Corey Davis (Titans), safety Jamal Adams (Jets), quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), cornerback Gareon Conley (Raiders), and safety Jabrill Peppers (Browns).

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky Won’t Hold Out

Although Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky is one of only 10 unsigned 2017 draft picks, he has no intention of holding out once training camp begins, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times details.Mitch Trubisky (Vertical)

“I’m not going to miss any practices or anything like that,” Trubisky said. “I’m excited to sign my contract as soon as possible, however that goes down. But I don’t see that being held out through training camp; even if it did, I’m going to be practicing and all that. I’m looking forward to getting it done as soon as possible. I’m a Chicago Bear, no matter if they let me sign or what. I guess not, but I am.”

Seven of the 10 unsigned 2017 picks are first-rounders, so Trubisky, the second overall selection, isn’t much of an outlier just yet. A first-round pick, and especially a quarterback like Trubisky, can often exert a bit of leverage in rookie contract negotiations. Though the NFL contractual bargaining agreement makes rookie signings a breeze, small terms — such as timing of bonus payments or offset language — can be brokered.

Last year, of course, the Chargers failed to sign No. 4 selection Joey Bosa until the end of August as the two parties haggled over contractual details. After giving up a haul of draft picks to move up to the No. 2 overall pick, Chicago clearly doesn’t want the same situation to play out with Trubisky, who is expected to play behind starter Mike Glennon, at least to start the 2017 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Highest-Impact Rookie Quarterback?

Of the 15 quarterbacks selected in last year’s draft, seven ended up starting at least one regular-season game in 2016. The Rams’ Jared Goff and the Eagles’ Carson Wentz comprised the top two picks of the draft, but it was Cowboys fourth-round signal-caller Dak Prescott, the 135th overall choice, who ultimately emerged as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the face of a 13-3 team.

When the Cowboys drafted Prescott, there was little expectation he’d garner significant playing time right away, let alone thrive from the get-go, with Tony Romo on the roster. But debilitating summer injuries to Romo and backup Kellen Moore opened the door for Prescott, who’s now firmly entrenched under center in Dallas. Romo, realizing he wasn’t going to start again for the Cowboys, is now working for CBS.

Deshaun Watson Texans (vertical)

While it’s hard to imagine any rookie quarterback from this year’s 10-man class bursting on the scene in Prescott-like fashion, it stands to reason at least some will get opportunities to do so. Like last year, three passers went in the first round of the 2017 draft, though immediate playing time isn’t a guarantee for any. For now, Mitch Trubisky (No. 2 overall, Bears), Patrick Mahomes (No. 10, Chiefs) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12, Texans) are in understudy roles.

Trubisky, a one-year starter at North Carolina for whom Chicago somewhat controversially traded up a spot to select, reportedly won’t see the field as a rookie unless free agent investment Mike Glennon flops. Considering Glennon previously held a starting job in Tampa Bay but didn’t do enough to keep it, he very well could struggle enough for Trubisky to grab the reins in 2017.

Watson might also take the helm sooner than later, as the ex-Clemson national championship winner whom the Texans traded up 13 spots to draft is behind a veteran, Tom Savage, who’s almost completely untested. Given that the Texans have sullied quality rosters with subpar quarterbacks in recent seasons, it could behoove them to plug in Watson if Savage, he of two career starts and zero touchdown passes, looks like another Brock Osweiler this year.

DeShone Kizer

An early path to playing time appears less clear for Mahomes, even though Kansas City paid a high price to go up 17 places to secure him. At the moment, the ex-Texas Tech gunslinger looks like a good bet to red shirt 2017 behind Alex Smith as the Chiefs take at least one more kick at the Super Bowl can with the steady (albeit non-elite) veteran at the helm.

Perhaps more than any other QB in this year’s class, Browns second-rounder DeShone Kizer stands out as someone who looks destined to amass playing time as a rookie. The 52nd pick and former Notre Dame dual threat has impressed in the very early going in Cleveland. Moreover, his main competitors for the Browns’ open starting job, Osweiler and Cody Kessler, aren’t exactly Otto Graham and Bernie Kosar.

As Prescott and 2012 third-rounder Russell Wilson have shown in the past half-decade, a quarterback doesn’t necessarily have to come off the board at the top of the draft to star right away. That’s surely heartening to the Giants’ Davis Webb (third round, No. 87), the 49ers’ C.J. Beathard (third round, No. 104), the Steelers’ Joshua Dobbs (fourth round, No. 135), the Bills’ Nathan Peterman (fifth round, No. 171), the Lions’ Brad Kaaya (sixth round, No. 215) and the Broncos’ Chad Kelly (seventh round, No. 253). Barring injuries, though, Webb, Dobbs and Kaaya have virtually no chance to earn starting roles at any point in 2017, as each is behind an established veteran. On the other hand, there’s no Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or Matthew Stafford on any of the rosters of the 49ers, Bills and Broncos, which could give Beathard, Peterman and Kelly a glimmer of hope. Still, for various reasons, all three look like major long shots to break out as rookies. Then again, the same could’ve been said about Prescott 12 months ago.

Photos via USA Today Sports Images and Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Extra Points: Trubisky, Dolphins, 49ers, Bucs

The Bears played it close to the vest before making their Mitch Trubisky trade from No. 3 to No. 2, one that headlined the draft and one that may have the team’s power structure at odds. Chicago’s brass tried to throw teams off the scent early in the process by sending an armada of personnel to Deshaun Watson‘s pro day while orchestrating a secret dinner meeting with Trubisky, per Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. The Bears also “begged” Trubisky’s camp not to leak news of that summit, and that part of the operation succeeded. Ryan Pace followed Dave Caldwell‘s secretive playbook when he made the Blake Bortles pick few expected.

Here’s more from around the league as rookie minicamp sessions are upon us.

  • Charles Harris experienced a similar type of draft misdirection. The Dolphins cancelled a pre-draft visit with the Missouri product without providing a reason for the change of plans. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s messed up,” Harris said, via James Walker of ESPN.com. Miami was linked to edge defenders coming into the draft despite re-signing Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, and Harris fell to the Fins at No. 22 to validate their pre-draft plot. The Dolphins met with Harris at the Combine but didn’t prompt him for a post-Combine workout before the cancellation tactic. “It’s just there are some players that we purposely try and stay away from once we are comfortable with the player, his character and what type of kid we are getting,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said, via Walker. “We just do not feel the need to spend any more time with them.”
  • John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were split on one of the 49ers’ eventual draft picks, and the coach won out. Lynch had Utah running back Joe Williams off his draft board, but Shanahan convinced the new GM to give the go-ahead for a fourth-round selection, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Shanahan, who was tied to the 49ers midway through the GM hunt and thus received an opportunity for additional control, helped sway Lynch to trade a fifth-round pick to move up in the fourth round and select Williams. The Utes runner’s questionable off-the-field past had Lynch skeptical, but Shanahan saw some promise in the back who ran the Combine’s second-fastest 40 time at 4.41 seconds. With Carlos Hyde entering a contract year, Williams could be a key component of the 49ers’ future.
  • Both Kendell Beckwith and Buccaneers management expect the linebacker to be ready to return by training camp, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Beckwith tore his ACL late during his senior season at LSU last fall. Stroud expects Beckwith to be a possible early-season starter on the strong side, with the writer believing primary 2016 starter Daryl SmithPFR’s No. 4 UFA off-ball linebacker — is closing in on retirement rather than returning for a 14th NFL season.
  • Bucs running back Jeremy McNichols underwent surgery shortly after the Combine to repair a torn labrum, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine reports McNichols’ timeline hovers at around four months, noting the Boise State-developed back hopes to be ready for camp. McNichols arrived via fifth-round pick for a Bucs team that has questions about Doug Martin‘s future. The team still employs Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber on the roster. McNichols caught 103 passes at Boise State in three seasons, but Jason Licht views him as a possible three-down back as opposed to a passing-game specialist.

NFC Draft Notes: Bears, 49ers, Saints, Lions

Reports emerged last night that Bears head coach John Fox was unaware of his club’s intention to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky until a “couple hours” before the draft. GM Ryan Pace subsequently denied those reports, saying his head coach is involved in all of the team’s decisions.

“That stuff is so false,” Pace said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “There’s consistency in everything we do, so we all work arm-in-arm and that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.

“John is involved in every decision deeply. The respect I have for John is enormous, especially his experience and all of the players that he’s been with. I think if you look back — and we talked about this — I think a lot of it was kept secret I thought we did a good job keeping this thing pretty under wraps, it’s so sensitive. But if you go back to the private workouts that we had, I mean John and I — it’s pretty hard to hide him — but we’re traveling to Chapel Hill and having dinners and workouts with Mitch, so he’s been deeply involved from the very beginning.”

Let’s check out some other draft notes from around the NFC…

  • The Vikings reportedly approached the 49ers about trading for the 104th pick, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). However, San Francisco wanted to guarantee that they’d get Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, so they rebuffed Minnesota’s advances. Ironically, Minnesota was previously in possession of that pick.
  • The Saints were fans of Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, general manager Mickey Loomis told Larry Holder of NOLA.com (Twitter link). However, with Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore still being on the board, New Orleans wasn’t too interested in moving up for the signal-caller. Mahomes was ultimately reelected 10th overall by the Chiefs.
  • UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau‘s pectoral muscle is “looking great,” tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This reassurance probably convinced the Redskins to take the defensive back with the 81st-overall pick.
  • The Lions selected cornerback Teez Tabor with the 53rd pick, despite the fact he suffered a hamstring injury during his workout with the team. Rapoport tweets that the Florida product didn’t end up working out for any other teams.

Latest On Bears’ Selection Of Mitch Trubisky

Bears head coach John Fox was unaware of his club’s intention to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky until a “couple hours” before the draft, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mitch Trubisky (vertical)

The effects of that news aren’t immediately clear, but it should indicate general manager Ryan Pace has complete control over personnel machinations in Chicago. Speculatively, the Bears could have been concerned about leaks, especially with other clubs — including the Browns — reportedly interested in trading up for Trubisky. In 2014, for example, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell famously kept his plan to select quarterback Blake Bortles to himself for fear of the news affecting other teams’ strategy.

In the end, the Bears traded a haul of draft picks for the 49ers for the right to move up one spot. While one earlier report indicated Chicago was bidding against itself to acquire the No. 2 pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets San Francisco did have an additional “real and legitimate offer” for the second selection. Cleveland, Kansas City, Houston, and Arizona all reportedly had interest in moving up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Did Bears Bid Against Themselves For Trubisky?

The Bears gave up a fortune to move up one spot and select Mitch Trubisky. It’s not immediately clear whether that was necessary, however. Mitch Trubisky (Vertical)

The Browns, Chiefs, Texans, and Cardinals all had interest in moving up and the Browns and Chiefs in particular coveted Mitch Trubisky, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune hears (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) hears the Niners shopped the pick hard for a week and found no takers. While some teams, like the Bills, had legitimate interest in Trubisky, none were interested in paying the steep price to move all the way to the second pick.

Could the Bears have stayed at No. 3 and selected Trubisky? We may never know for sure, but it sounds like there could be truth in both reports from Jahns and Robinson. The Browns, Chiefs, and other teams may have been after Trubisky, but they were probably unwilling to leapfrog the Bears to get a deal done. 49ers GM John Lynch says that Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster were two of the top three players on his board and it’s safe to assume that Myles Garrett was the third musketeer, not Trubisky.

The Bears, it seems, got pump faked into paying a king’s ransom when they could have stood pat and gotten their man. At the same time, if Trubisky turns out to be a star who greatly outperforms Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, and other top talents linked to Chicago, none of this will really matter.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Bears Acquire No. 2 Pick, Take Mitch Trubisky

The Bears have acquired the No. 2 overall pick from the 49ers. With the pick, the Bears have shocked the world by taking UNC quarterback Mitch TrubiskyMitch Trubisky (Vertical)

The selection comes as a massive surprise. There have been a number of players connected to the Bears over the last few months, but no one anticipated Chicago taking Trubisky. The Bears paid a fortune to sign Mike Glennon this offseason and they have now put major resources into landing Trubisky. Glennon was supposedly signed to be the Bears’ starter, but he might wind up holding the clipboard for a highly drafted QB yet again.

The Niners will be acquiring Chicago’s No. 3 overall selection plus more. The 49ers will receive picks No. 67 and No. 111 this year plus a 2018 a third-round pick next year to move back one spot, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com tweets.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Browns To Select Myles Garrett No. 1 Overall

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett will be the Browns No. 1 pick, multiple league sources tell Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Meanwhile, someone in the know tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) that the top pick will be someone “who is clearly, clearly better than anyone else.” With all due respect to UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky, that’s another strong indication that the pick will be Garrett. Myles Garrett (Vertical)

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In recent days, there were some whispers that Trubisky might be the No.1 pick by Cleveland. Cabot hears that team brass met this afternoon to solidify the decision, which would indicate that there was some debate over the best course of action. For what it’s worth, top executive Sashi Brown recently said that the team’s decision was made roughly two weeks ago, so it’s hard to know what to believe. Regardless, Garrett appears poised to be the top pick.

The Browns are apparently taking the best player available at No. 1, but it’s still wide open after that.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.