Mitch Trubisky

NFC North Notes: Bears, Hundley, Lions

Although John Fox is known for his conservative tendencies, the Bears coach wanted to pull the trigger on starting the Mitch Trubisky era earlier than the team ended up going through with the quarterback switch. Fox raved about the No. 2 overall pick’s upside and was open to the team replacing Mike Glennon earlier than Week 5, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, ownership and management, due to Trubisky’s inexperience and the investment the team recently made in Glennon, halted the switch before finally agreeing to turn to the rookie after Glennon’s rough outing in Green Bay. Trubisky picked up his first career win as a starter Sunday, with the Bears beating the Ravens in overtime.

Here’s more from the NFC North, shifting to the division’s highest-profile quarterback situation.

  • Mike McCarthy doesn’t sound ready to explore outside solutions to replace Aaron Rodgers after the perennial MVP candidate broke his collarbone Sunday. The Packers coach said postgame (via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, on Twitter) Brett Hundley is his starting quarterback and Joe Callahan, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game yet, is the backup. A 2015 fifth-round pick, Hundley entered Sunday with 11 career pass attempts. The UCLA product threw three interceptions in the Packers’ loss to the Vikings. Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Matt McGloin are among the UFA options. Wisconsin native Tony Romo has stood out as an analyst in his first season, and the 37-year-old recently retired passer reportedly would only consider a return to the NFL if the Cowboys needed him. However, this would be quite the special circumstance, given the Packers’ recent track record.
  • The Lions continue to wait for left tackle Taylor Decker to return to action, and Greg Robinson has yet to prove a capable replacement. But it’s likely the former No. 2 overall pick will continue to function as the Lions’ starter on the left edge due to his experience advantage over Brian Mihalik and Emmett Cleary, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. However, Rothstein notes Decker might be ready to play by the time the Lions return to action in Week 8. A late-October return gels with the last update that emerged on Decker.
  • Teddy Bridgewater received good news on multiple fronts. Eligible to come off the PUP list on Monday, the Vikings quarterback is said to be ready to go. Bridgewater’s contract situation also looks to be breaking in a favorable fashion after previously residing in a murky place.

Browns Eyed Trubisky, Mahomes, 2018 QBs Over Watson?

For the second straight year, the current Browns front office is set to observe the team face a rookie quarterback upon whom it passed in that year’s draft. After Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott faced the Browns last season, Deshaun Watson will match up against the team he was often linked to in the pre-draft process.

But the Browns evidently had a multi-layered thought process behind moving past Watson, with Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reporting the team had Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Watson as their top three quarterbacks and likely in that order.

The Browns also bypassed Watson with their No. 12 pick in order to pick up a future 2018 first-rounder — their second high-2018 draft choice acquired from the Texans this spring — because of what’s being viewed as a superior class of quarterbacks likely set to be draft-eligible, Cabot reports. With two first-round picks and three second-rounders next year, the Browns would like to be “well-positioned” to draft a quarterback in the event DeShone Kizer is not their long-term solution. Considering Kizer was just benched for what Cabot notes will likely be for at least three games through the team’s Week 9 bye, that clock is ticking.

Cleveland may well have taken Mahomes, who had a private workout with the Browns before visiting the team in April, had the Chiefs not traded up to No. 10 and selected him, Cabot notes. Kansas City’s brass obviously shared the Mahomes-over-Watson line of thinking. The longtime Browns reporter adds some in the front office did want to draft Trubisky No. 1 overall, leading to “heated debates” before Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams‘ preferred player, Myles Garrett, went to Cleveland at No. 1 overall.

Jackson declined to say this week if he advocated for Watson, who has accounted for 10 touchdowns the past two weeks. The second-year coach also declined to speculate whether coaching Watson in January would have endeared him more to the team.

The Browns not viewing Wentz or Watson as the kind of game-changer they coveted is being scrutinized now that Kizer has been benched for 2016 practice squad signee Kevin Hogan, who has outperformed the second-round pick when summoned this season.

Viewing this demotion as a “temporary timeout,” Jackson anticipates returning to Kizer this season. The Browns are planning to obtain more evidence he’s the future to determine if the Notre Dame product is worthy of bypassing a signal-caller with all five of their 2018 first- or second-round picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Start QB Mitch Trubisky

The Bears will start rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky over veteran Mike Glennon in Week 5, according to Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mitch Trubisky (Vertical)

Signed to a three-year, $45MM deal during the offseason, Glennon has done nothing to prove that he’s a capable NFL starter through four weeks. Chicago has gone 1-3 in his four starts, and Glennon ranks 25th in touchdown percentage, 28th in interception percentage, 29th in adjusted net yards per attempt, and 29th in quarterback rating. The 27-year-old Glennon will now be relegated to backup duty while Mark Sanchez presumably will stick at No. 3 on the depth chart.

The Bears paid a hefty price to acquire Trubisky in the 2017 draft, as they shipped the two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder to the 49ers for the right to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 overall. The North Carolina product was strong during the preseason, but Chicago still went with Glennon at the season’s outset. But Glennon’s performance, the Bears’ team record, and — speculatively — head coach John Fox‘s job status have now led to Trubisky moving under center.

Trubisky won’t face an easy test in his first NFL start, as he’ll go up against the division rival Vikings (although he’ll have the benefit of a home game). While Minnesota’s defensive unit hasn’t played well statistically, head coach Mike Zimmer fields a strong pass rush and a top-notch secondary that could fluster a rookie signal-caller. Luckily for the Bears, they’ll have a 11-day layoff between games, so Trubisky should have time to get first-team reps in advance of Week 5.

Glennon, for his part, can easily be released after the 2017 season, as Chicago would only incur $4.5MM in dead money by cutting him (versus $11.5MM in cap savings). The Bears could potentially look to trade Glennon, although it’s difficult to see any club offering anything of value — or even being willing to take on his few remaining guarantees — given his production this year. Glennon has an offset on his $2.5MM guarantee in 2018, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, so the Bears could hypothetically get out from under that total.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Burfict, Bears, Packers, Decker

Vontaze Burfict‘s Bengals contract calls for a $2MM roster bonus if he’s on the team by March 31 of next year, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Bengals protected themselves heavily with the Burfict extension, one that could pay out $33.234MM through 2020, since the deal comes with just $3.3MM guaranteed. Speaking publicly about the extension for the first time, Burfict didn’t elaborate much about his decision to bypass free agency for a largely non-guaranteed deal. Although, he did say he appreciates the Bengals’ support in agreeing to take him on long-term given his suspension history. “I hope so,” Burfict said (via Owczarski) of the feeling of support. “I give my blood, sweat and tears out on the field. It’s vice versa. I appreciate everything they do for me and my family and like I said, let’s go get a win on Sunday. Now we’re in for four more years, so we’re past it now. So now obviously just win some games.”

The Bengals reinstated Burfict on Thursday.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions on a night when their most storied rivalry takes center stage.

  • The BearsTarik Cohen pursuit began when Ryan Pace‘s top southeastern scout declared the then-North Carolina A&T running back was his favorite player to watch, over all of the SEC prospects he observed, and the Chicago GM soon became enamored as well, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). The Bears selected several small-school talents this year, with second-round tight end Adam Shaheen being the first, but Cohen — a fourth-rounder — has played an impact role from the start.
  • While Cohen will receive his first chance to display the elusiveness that enticed the Bears to a national audience, the Packers will be down several key players. Both starting tackles — David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga — are out, and Mike Daniels will miss the Week 4 tilt as well. The Packers are already down would-be backup options in Don Barclay, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy — each on IR — so Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets a four-guard lineup could be on tap. Justin McCray, who started at tackle for Bakhtiari in Week 2, and fellow rookie Adam Pankey join second-year player Lucas Patrick in the mix to protect Aaron Rodgers on Thursday. Each of those players entered the league as a UDFA. The Packers played without both starting tackles against the Falcons, with Murphy and McCray receiving the replacement starts.
  • The Bears aren’t judging Mike Glennon in their impending quarterback swap but rather are monitoring Mitch Trubisky to determine when the rookie will be ready to take over, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. Glennon has struggled during his first three starts, and Biggs categorizes the season’s plan — once based around Trubisky redshirting as a rookie — as a week-to-week arrangement.
  • Ka’Deem Carey‘s Bears injury settlement was worth $273,529, Biggs reports. The Bears placed the backup running back on IR just before the season, and the settlement came shortly after.
  • Not known for particularly expansive pressers, Jim Caldwell succinctly assessed Taylor Decker‘s status. The fourth-year Lions coach said Decker is “progressing towards” a midseason return, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. The left tackle was given a four- to six-month timetable upon a labrum tear in June. Midseason would fall in that range. Greg Robinson currently mans the left edge for the Lions.
  • Tests done on Danny Shelton‘s injured calf don’t look to reveal a serious malady, Rapoport tweets. The Browns defensive tackle injured the calf in practice Wednesday. He has not missed a game in his three-year career.

Bears Notes: Glennon, Trubisky, Howard

The Bears have not yet had a discussion about replacing starter Mike Glennon with fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Through two games (both Chicago losses), Glennon has completed 67.1% of his passes for 514 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He currently ranks 21st in quarterback rating and 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, while the Bears’ passing offense is just 26th in DVOA.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • Running back Jordan Howard is playing through a sprained AC joint, tweets Rapoport, who adds the injury could help explain why some scouts believe the Bears second-year back is running “tentatively.” Howard, who topped 1,300 yards on the ground in 2016 after entering the league as a fifth-round pick, has seen his snap percentage decrease this season as rookie Tarik Cohen takes on more passing game responsibility. Heading into today’s game Howard had managed just 2.7 yards per carry, but he’s already managed 46 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 3.
  • While the Bears originally believed Nick Kwiatkoski was done for the year after suffering a pectoral injury last week, the linebacker’s health issue may not be season-ending, per Rapoport (Twitter link). While Kwiatkoski will miss several games, he’s likely to be available later this year. That’s an extremely positive development for Chicago, which had already placed starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman on injured reserve.
  • Can the Bears rebound from their 0-2 start? Not according to PFR readers, who ranked Chicago as one of the least likeliest winless teams to perform better down the stretch. Check out the rest of the poll results and add your own thoughts here.

North Notes: Tuitt, Trubisky, Vikings

Following the extensions for Antonio Brown and Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers locked down Stephon Tuitt on the eve of their 2017 opener. Tuitt agreed to a five-year, $61MM extension on Saturday, and the details of that deal are out. Tuitt will receive an $11MM signing bonus and stand to earn $24MM in new money in the deal’s first two years, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, adding the fourth-year defensive end will collect $14MM in 2017 as opposed to the $1.05MM he was set to make. Florio adds there is no guarantee after the first year of the contract, which is typical for Steelers deals.

A $7.5MM roster bonus will be owed to Tuitt on the fifth day of the 2018 league year, Florio adds, and a $3.5MM roster bonus will be due on Day 5 of the 2019 league year. In 2018, Tuitt will earn a $3.5MM base salary and stands to collect a $6MM base in 2019. Tuitt’s ensuing base salaries are as follows: $9MM (2020), $9MM (’21) and $9.05MM (’22).

In Tuitt and Cameron Heyward, the Steelers have two interior defensive linemen earning at least $10MM annually. They join only the Jaguars and Bills in that group.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions on Week 1 Sunday eve.

  • Mike Zimmer considered giving up Vikings defensive play-calling duties in advance of this season, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. However, the fourth-year coach resumed that responsibility during the preseason. The Vikings ranked ninth in defensive DVOA last season and made a point to extend key starters Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Xavier Rhodes this offseason.
  • Mitch Trubisky‘s ability to process an NFL offense surprised the Bears, J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com notes. This led to the No. 2 overall pick — a one-year starter at North Carolina — commandeering the Bears’ backup job and prompting John Fox to declare him “ready to play” if needed Sunday.
  • Rick Spielman is entering his 12th season making Vikings personnel decisions, but he’s only overseen one playoff victory — a Brett Favre-led divisional-round win over the Cowboys. The Vikings are again expected to compete for a playoff spot but Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes ownership will have to weigh the GM’s status if another season ends short of a playoff triumph. Illustrating Spielman’s effectiveness while showing obvious difficulty in establishing consistency, Minnesota has made the playoffs with four different quarterbacks — Tarvaris Jackson, Favre, Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater — in the decision-maker’s tenure. The Vikings likely have to do so with a fifth, Sam Bradford, if they’re to return this season.
  • The Bears’ Akiem Hicks extension followed Tuitt’s by a few hours Saturday, and he will be just shy of the Steelers defensive end on the AAV spectrum.
  • The Browns once again have a new starting quarterback, but they’ll again trot out a new No. 2 man. Kevin Hogan will be the next man up behind DeShone Kizer on Sunday.

NFC Rumors: Pryor, Eagles, Ward, Trubisky

Terrelle Pryor already confessed his camp might have misjudged the market when he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Redskins. The wideout’s back in a contract year but said Wednesday other teams presented multiyear offers.

A lot of teams … I got four or five offers from four or five teams for four or five-year deals for a lot of money, but it wasn’t where I thought I needed to be,” Pryor said, via Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “At the end of the day, I wanted to really show I can do it, dominate at it again, and really just set myself up to have a home for four or five years, that way I can sign somewhere for four or five years instead of always moving around.”

Evidently hoping this one-year agreement can be a pathway to more lucrative long-term proposals, the 28-year-old Pryor also revealed he was negotiating with the Eagles prior to his Redskins pact. Pryor said he “believed” the Eagles were one of the teams pursuing him before something “in house” changed. This could allude to Alshon Jeffery signing a one-year deal on the same day Pryor agreed to his Washington contract. The Eagles were connected to just about every UFA wideout of note this offseason, and Pryor’s comments back up a March report of five teams being interested in signing him.

Here’s the latest from the NFC as 15 of its teams make preparations for their Week 1 games.

  • The one NFC franchise that won’t play this weekend has a new safety that now has an extra week to acclimate to Mike Smith‘s system, and details of T.J. Ward‘s contract continue to emerge. Ward will earn $3MM guaranteed on his one-year deal with the Buccaneers, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. The veteran safety’s contract has a base value of $3.875MM, and offers the chance for an extra $1MM via incentives. Ward, of course, signed with Tampa Bay less than 24 hours after being released by Denver, a move that led the Buccaneers to trade fellow defensive back J.J. Wilcox to the Steelers.
  • While this is not exactly a surprise, Mitch Trubisky will ascend to second on the Bears‘ depth chart for Chicago’s Week 1 tilt. The rookie quarterback usurped Mark Sanchez and will back up Mike Glennon on Sunday, John Fox said (via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, on Twitter). Of this rookie class, only DeShone Kizer will receive an opening day start. Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, C.J. Beathard and Nathan Peterman join Trubisky in being second-stringers entering their first NFL seasons.
  • Dontari Poe‘s latest weight check-in, which is today, will secure the Falcons defensive tackle $125K, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Poe earned the $125K by coming in under 330 pounds in late July. The pre-regular-season weight ceiling remains the same.
  • No offset language existed in Alex Boone‘s Vikings contract, Joel Corry of CBS Sports notes (on Twitter), so Minnesota will be stuck with $3.5MM in dead money on this year’s cap. Terms of Boone’s Cardinals deal are not yet disclosed, but it won’t go toward helping the Vikings offset dead money remaining on the four-year, $26.8MM contract they authorized for Boone last year.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report.

North Notes: Osweiler, Trubisky, Carey

The latest from the North:

  • With DeShone Kizer likely to open the season as the Browns’ starting quarterback, the probable runner-up in the competition, Brock Osweiler, is now on the trade block. The problem is that the Browns are unlikely to find a taker for him, even though they’re willing to eat around $10MM of his $16MM salary if the right offer comes along, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. The Browns wanted at least a third-round pick for Osweiler when they were shopping him in March, according to Cabot, which is a preposterous asking price when you consider the struggles he had in Houston last season. While Cleveland did give up a fourth-rounder to acquire Osweiler from the Texans, it also received a second- and sixth-rounder just to take on his bloated contract. Regarding the possibility of the Browns flipping the 26-year-old before Week 1, an NFL personnel executive told Cabot, “Good luck with that.”
  • The Bears will give rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky some first-team reps in their preseason game against the Titans on Sunday, which is the latest sign that the second overall pick will emerge as their starter sometime this year, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Trubisky’s preseason play has easily trumped free agent signing Mike Glennon‘s (granted, the former has faced lesser competition thus far), but the job still belongs to the veteran, according to head coach John Fox. “Right now, Mike Glennon is the starter,” Fox said. “He’s going to start preseason (Game) 3, which is a pretty good indicator where you start the (regular) season. I’ll leave it at that.”
  • Bears running back Ka’Deem Carey underwent wrist surgery and will miss approximately six weeks, Fox told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and other reporters on Wednesday (Twitter link). Carey, who’s behind Jordan Howard and Kendall Langford on the Bears’ depth chart, has totaled just 111 carries since they chose him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He averaged 3.9 yards on 32 attempts last season.

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.