It’s probably a really good thing that I never became a parent. I’m much too critical of virtually everything and everybody, and I’m sure if I had children, they would probably grow up hating me for trying to run their lives or second guessing their decisions.
As the youngest of three boys, by over ten years, I had the benefit of observation within my family. I would observe my brothers doing stupid things, things that as a 6 year old I knew were wrong, but couldn’t not watch the train wreck of bad behavior. I always reasoned that I was powerless to stop them anyway. These observations did three things for me, to this day, that have shaped my life for the better.
I live an honest and God fearing life, I personally know that the sins of past will come back to you in one form or another.
I always remember the decisions that people make, and have tried to learn from their results. It might take years to see the cause and effect, but I can reasonably presume quite a few outcomes. I try to learn from all history… mine, yours, good or bad. History always repeats, especially the bad, because most people don’t bother to observe and learn everyday.
Watching the heartache and misery that my brothers would sometimes cause for my mother, gave me a great deal of sensitivity and respect for women that translated into me finally finding my wife. I’m sure I would not be the decent husband she thinks I am, without this trait of my personality.
When I sat down to write this article I didn’t foresee telling about my childhood for 200 words. I’m sitting here in my home office, writing this article in response to the bull-chatter on the Saturday Score 670 broadcast with Steve Rosenbloom and company. And also in response to an article by Mark Potash of the Sun-Times that I picked up online about the Bears upcoming free-agency decisions. The response to both media outlets has to do with the acumen of Bears general manager Ryan Pace.
Going into his fourth NFL draft next month, the media has pretty much given Pace a free pass on his job performance, even after the disastrous foray into free agency a year ago. It’s as if everyone in Chicago sports media has forgotten about Mr. Pace’s past foray’s into free-agency the previous three years.
Front and center among his failure’s into free agency was the signing of quarterback Mike Glennon. We will come back to this signing last year, for 18 million guaranteed, in a few paragraphs.
Of all the money Pace has spent, close to $100 million in three years of free-agency, only two highly-paid starters will survive next weeks cuts, defensive end Akiem Hicks and linebacker Danny Trevaithan. The Bears announced today they will resign backup offensive tackle Bradley Sowell on Wednesday when free agency opens. Which probably means starting offensive right tackle Bobby Massie, who is due a $1 million roster bonus on Friday, will be cut in a cost saving move to boost the Bears cap space beyond the $64.6 million reported today in the Sun-Times. Signing’s like Sowell are the only thing that has saved Pace and the Bears from becoming the 0-16 Cleveland Browns. A decent backup for the league minimum.
The Bears currently have only 46 players on their active roster under contract (the 2nd fewest in football), 8 of those are futures contracts, 26 players from a year ago are free-agents, 20 of them are unrestricted and available to the whole league, and 6 restricted free agents, which means Bears have first right to sign, or refusal.
In the Bears biggest area of need, wide receiver, the Bears currently have two wide receivers under contract, the oft injured 2015 1st round pick (7th overall) Kevin White, and last years big signing, Marcus Wheaton, who caught 3 passes all year for 6 million guaranteed over two years. Let see… that’s 2 million per catch, good for him. Josh Bellamy, a backup receiver and special teams player, and Cameron Meredith, who was the Bears best wideout, before he tore his knee in training camp last year, are restricted free-agents, who are expected back. The Bears best two receivers from a year ago Kendall Wright and Dontrelle Inman are unrestricted free agents. The Bears may bring them both back, if they miss on bigger names when free agency opens.
Now word has it that the Bears will not sign the fragile White to his option year, about 3-5 million, which means that this will probably be his last year with the Bears.
The Bears were in this same exact spot with cornerback Kyle Fuller a year ago. Fuller was coming off an injury, where he missed the entire 2016 season. The Bears decided not to pick up his option. Predictably, Fuller, playing for a contract, played the whole 2017 season and led the Bears in pass breakups and passes defended. Impressive right? Maybe.
He played opposite cornerback Prince Amakamura, a free agent who signed a one year offer for $7 million. The Bears should’ve offered Amakamura that one year contract with a team option for a 2nd year, in case he played well, to give him a slight raise to $8 or 9 million. But they didn’t, so Prince is on the free agent trail as well. None of this would be troubling except for the fact that Fuller appeared to have better statistics, because teams threw at Fuller more often. Don’t forget the Bears finished 5-11 with Fuller being the more targeted cornerback, they can easily finish 5-11 without him.
Other teams quarterbacks didn’t test Amakamura as often, even though he was covering the best receiver most of the time. So Amakamura would appear to be the better coverage guy right? If teams shied away from him and thought it would be better or easier to target Fuller, who would you rather have patrolling the secondary and at what price. Because since the Bears didn’t pick up the option year on Fuller’s rookie contract, he is hitting the free agent market at a time when the cost to acquire a starting cornerback in free-agency this year, will be starting at 10 million, and may be as high as 14-15 million a year. The Bears put the transition tag on Fuller which will cost at minimum $12.6 a year. The Bears can match any contract offered to him, or let him go with nothing to show for it, should he receive an even higher offer.
Looking back, the option for $6-7 million looks pretty affordable now. Will the same decision with wide receiver White, come back to haunt the McCaskey pocket book as well? With Pace running the show the answer is… probably!
At the scouting combine a week ago the Bears announced they would be cutting Mike Glennon at a cost of $4.5 million in dead money against the salary cap. That is the last of guaranteed money owed to Glennon. Does anyone need to remind Pace that he has only one quarterback on his roster right now? His mancrush Trubisky. 3rd string quarterback Mark Sanchez is a free agent as well.
Cutting Glennon and eating the $4.5 million guaranteed, gives you a little salary cap savings on his annual non-guaranteed money, but Pace will have to sign or draft two or three more quarterback’s anyway. So where is the savings? If they were to keep Glennon, you at least have a veteran backup, then you can draft a project quarterback in latter rounds that will only cost the league minimum. And then when you need an extra arm for training camp, you sign a rookie free agent for a couple weeks.
Instead, Pace would rather pay Glennon to be someone else’s backup. It will cost significant money to bring in another veteran to backup Trubisky. If you do draft another rookie quarterback to be Mitchell’s backup, then you have the cheapest and least amount of experience at the most important position in the league!
If that isn’t poor planning and spending… I don’t know what is. If the plan all along was to draft Trubisky and start him in year two, then Glennon’s contract should have been structured to pay him like a backup in his second year anyway. It looks more and more like Pace is flying by the seat of his pants and has no plans in regards to anything with the Bears roster, even though he says otherwise.
More foolishness: Being a general manager is hard!
In an article defending Pace and how difficult his job is, Sun-Times scribe Mark Potash recalled the mistake made by previous Bears general manager Phil Emery, when he drafted linebacker Shea McClellan in the first round, 19th overall, in 2012. McClellan was drafted to be a pass rusher a defensive end, even though he was a linebacker.
I remember shooting pool with my friend Bob as we hashed over the Bears draft results in late April 2012. Bob liked the pick, he is fast he said. I of course hated the pick. My argument was simple, if the Bears wanted to draft a defensive end, then draft a defensive end, not a linebacker. McClellan was a linebacker for a reason, and two picks after the Bears selected McClellan, the New England Patriots selected defensive end Chandler Jones, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, has 61 career sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl last year. The next three ends selected were Whitney Mercilus (26th), Andre Branch (38th) and Olivier Vernon (72nd), all of whom have about 40 career sacks and have been named to All-Pro teams. Even defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who actually played defensive end for Boise State and was drafted in the third round, at pick 81, has 17 career sacks. Shea McClellan has 8.5 career sacks. Emery says he learned his lesson not to try and take an under-sized player and make him play another position.
I remember 1995 and the rampant criticism the Philadelphia Eagles received for drafting Mike Mamula, a linebacker from Boston College. The Eagles had lost defensive end Reggie White to Green Bay via free-agency and decided to draft Mamula with the 7th selection overall in the 1995 draft. He was the original McClellan, a physical specimen who ran fast and blew scouts away at the combine. He was thought to have enough speed to run around a slower offensive tackle. Mamula was also the original failure, who was out of football 5 years after he was drafted, even though he had 30 career sacks. I don’t know what Phil Emery was doing in 1995, but apparently he wasn’t planning on being a general manager of an NFL team someday, otherwise he would’ve been paying attention.
I’ve watched enough football to have seen and recalled how Jim Finks, Al Davis, Tex Schramm, Jerry Vainisi, Bill Tobin, Bill Polian, Bill Parcells and Bill Belicheck have built their Super Bowl teams. And I have also learned from over 30 years of mistakes the Bears have made since their last and only Super Bowl. Some times I feel like the Bears won’t get to another Super Bowl without me! The Bears clearly need another voice, perspective or a contrary opinion in their personnel room when they select players for free agency or the draft, not just agreeable yes men. I am available!