The Bears made waves recently when they announced the addition of Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as the new president and CEO in Chicago. The addition resulted in a number of questions about Warren’s responsibilities and how they will compare to those of general manager Ryan Poles. While Poles will report to Warren in the grand scheme of things, the Bears will leave the football aspect of the team to Poles, allowing Warren to focus on business, according to Adam Jahns of The Athletic.
This is similar to Warren’s past roles in the NFL, specifically his time in Minnesota as chief operating officer. Warren worked hand-in-hand with former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman for several years before Warren moved on to the Big Ten. Spielman told Jahns that he operated with Warren in a similar manner to how the Bears plan to operate, with Spielman focused on football and Warren on business. The only difference in Chicago is that, while Spielman and Warren both reported to Vikings’ ownership, Poles is now reporting directly to Warren.
Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC North concerning some likely offseason transactions:
- Vikings center Garrett Bradbury struggled as a first-round selection up until this season. In his first three years of NFL football, Bradbury’s best season in 2020 saw him rank 25th out of 36 graded centers, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The other two years saw Bradbury rank 28th in 2019 and 29th in 2021, leading to Minnesota declining his fifth-year option heading into this season. After a hot start to the season that considerably raised his stock as a pending free agent, Bradbury iterated that he loved his team and preferred to stay in Minnesota. Three and a half months later and Bradbury finished off his hot season for a career year that saw him rank 11th out of 38 graded centers. With free agency on the horizon, Bradbury was asked again and, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he reiterated his desires to re-sign with the team that drafted him.
- Unlike Bradbury, Lions guard Jonah Jackson is fully locked into his starting position at left guard heading into his contract year. If he has his way, though, the 25-year-old won’t even sniff free agency. Jackson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he is fully open to remaining with the Lions long-term. “I would retire in Detroit,” Jackson said. “I would love to be a Lion forever. I love the city.” Jackson isn’t expected to earn a top guard contract but still may fetch a significant deal worth $13-15MM. He made sure to clarify that if it doesn’t happen, he doesn’t intend to hold out. “If it doesn’t (happen), I’m the same guy, the same 73 who showed up for work every day from COVID Year 1 to now…If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
- Another player who is getting ahead of free agency, Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney signed with a new agency in advance of potential contract extension negotiations, according to the official Twitter account of Athletes First sports agency. Mooney came back down to reality this year after a stellar 2021 season, partially due to injuries that kept him out of the final five games of the season. Mooney still has the ability to be a 1,000-yard receiver like he was a year ago and should benefit from another year of experience and improvement for quarterback Justin Fields. Taking action with his representation could indicate that Mooney is ready to start working towards a long-term extension before a contract year next season.