Long day with plenty of non-related football activity. We're happy to get this Fourth Down Territory in before the day is out.
Q: Since the Bears signed the quarterback from Carolina, Brett Basanez, do you see them releasing Rex Grossman? That would just be so awesome.
Nada, Parts Unknown
A: You have nada clue when it comes to the situation, apparently. Grossman is out of contract and will become an unrestricted free agent when the period opens Feb. 27. You cannot release a player you do not have under contract.
Why would it be awesome for Grossman to be released?
It's very apparent he did not fulfill the expectations that the organization had for him, or those that he probably had for himself. Grossman has not been a pariah like Cade McNown was. Grossman hasn't been a former No. 4 overall pick busted twice in five weeks for booze incidents that he was eventually cleared of in court. Grossman didn't get it done. I'm not a Grossman backer, Grossman supporter or Grossman apologist, and you can find those types. I didn't care that he got booed at Soldier Field by hometown fans, who pay for tickets and can do as they please. But I can't understand how he is Public Enemy No. 1 for so many people. Fans are disappointed, understandably, by the Bears' long struggle to right the position. Grossman is just one guy who didn't get it done. It strikes me that he's somehow become the target for the failings of an organization. Grossman didn't draft himself. He didn't sign Jonathan Quinn. He didn't draft McNown. He sure as heck didn't trade for another quarterback from Indiana in Rick Mirer. But people want to see him fall flat on his face, preferably in a puddle of mud. Seems like the blame is being misplaced here. Grossman should get credit for handling himself like a pro during six seasons with the organization. Just remember, he didn't tell booing fans to stay at home and serenade their television set. Who knows if it will work out for him elsewhere. We'll see.
Q: Your article on the Bears' ticket price freeze was great. However, I wish someone would write an article on how the Cubs gouge their fans by allowing Stub Hub to market their tickets. I was hoping to get a decent seat for the opener but Stub Hub was asking $450 for tickets in Section 115. Let the public become aware of how the Cubs take advantage of their fans.
Tom M., Parts Unknown
A: You will find that Stub Hub has a professional relationship with the Bears as well. Unfortunately, you've come to the wrong place to air grievances about the Cubs. At last check, they still seem to sell the joint out on a regular, if not daily basis. I never fared real well in Econ 101, but that's basic supply and demand.
Q: Why is it that no one ever raises the red flag over the fact that our recently renovated stadium was redesigned to have the smallest seating capacity of all 32 teams? Chicago is the second largest population when it comes to cities that are home to NFL franchises. How did these architectural plans get approved, and who approved them, the Bears or the Chicago Park District? I believe Soldier Field only seats around 60,000-65,000 total, where other stadiums in the league and in the NCAA hold 100,000 or more. With Chicago and Illinois politicians known for their corrupt ways, it wouldn't surprise me if someone in the city or state government took a nice payoff to approve this ridiculous stadium. The McCaskeys not having a good relationship with Mayor Daley probably put them at his mercy too. Whoever ultimately approved this stadium to be rebuilt the way it is now should be spending some years in Joliet for wasting taxpayers' money.
Matt S., Mount Prospect
A: I believe the official seating capacity of Soldier Field is 61,500, which was 31st in the league until the Indianapolis Colts moved into their sparkling new home this season at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Bears' long quest to get a refurbished or new home spanned well more than a decade and there were more twists and turns than we have interest in getting into this evening. The largest stadium in the league this past season was Washington's FedEx Field, with a capacity of nearly 92,000. Dallas' new stadium, which will open in 2009, is expected to exceed that. The stadiums that seat 100,000 fans are in the college ranks. Here's my question about those stadiums--I've never been to one that large--how in the world do you see from the far reaches of the stadium? I think it's fair to assume the Bears would love to sell 75,000 seats to every home game, but that's simply not a reality.
Q: If the Bears are "close" as Lovie Smith has stated and don't appear to have much to do with extensions for current players this offseason, why wouldn't they use cap room to make a big splash on a difference maker in free agency? Reports in your paper and others seem to indicate they are likely to depend on new coach Rod Marinelli to raise the level of play of the current personnel rather than add a big-ticket item on the defensive line and the free agent market is weak at wide receiver save for T.J. Houshmandzadeh (whom the Bears are unlikely to wage a bidding war to secure his services). If that is the case, do you see them doing more than simply adding a Chris Simms as the No. 2 QB and hoping for some immediate help from the draft? What would you recommend they do to take the next step?
Joe B., Oxford, Conn.
A: The flip side of your argument is that if the Bears feel they are close, they don't need the big free-agent splash to get them over the top. They're on the brink. I'm not saying I agree with that, I'm just saying that's another approach to that way of thinking. There is no guarantee at this point a serious pass rusher will be on the market. Teams were allowed to start exercising the franchise tag on Thursday and the deadline is Feb. 19. Julius Peppers and Terrell Suggs are not free yet. Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth has secured his freedom but has had some talks with the Titans about returning. I'm not sold on Houshmandzadeh being a true No. 1 target. Chad Johnson is the guy most defenses were worried about the last several seasons. He's a nice player, but he's probably more of a possession guy than a gamebreaker. There's no guarantee yet that the Bears go out and sign an experienced quarterback but I'd say chances are good that happens. Yes, I expect them to do something in free agency. No hints have come out at this point. Maybe they make a play for a safety. Maybe they make a play for a cornerback and then address safety in-house. We've got to see exactly who will be available. Realistically, how many blue-chip players are going to be on the market? The number has to be less than five, right?
Thanks for the questions and comments all week. We'll dive into another Q&A on Monday. Shoot in your questions and we'll line them up for next week.