We got a lot of questions regarding Orlando Pace and the makeup of the Bears' offensive line and we're going to address that in a separate blog post a little later on. This is our first Q&A since last Thursday, and we will probably do our next one some time over the weekend. Let's get right to it.
Q: I heard you on the radio earlier today suggest that the Bears could trade linebacker Lance Briggs in order to get Jay Cutler. Do you really believe that? He's been their best defensive player since Tommie Harris stopped playing at a high level on a regular basis and I can't think where the Bears' defense would be without him. Tell me you're kidding. April Fools, right?
A: In visiting with Mike Murphy on the WSCR 670-AM, I was trying to make the point that the Bears may have to deal just about whoever the Bears want for Cutler. The Broncos, it's believed, are seeking two first-round picks and a quarterback to start. Who knows if anyone will offer a package like that for Cutler. But there is a chance that Denver could look at Kyle Orton and say, ``no thanks.'' It's hard to say how the rest of the league views Orton, but it's probably safe to say most clubs don't hold him in the same esteem as the Bears do. Predictions of Rex Grossman being a commodity in free agency didn't go over so well, did they? It could be the league frowns on Bears' quarterbacks.
So, if the Bears cannot deliver a passer the Broncos are interested in, what do they do? If they don't want to fork over two first-round picks, what do the Bears do? Well, they probably start looking at players that would be attractive to Denver. The Broncos are rebuilding a defense that was terrible last season. They're going to be playing 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. They need the most help in the front seven. Who do the Bears have that could help? Briggs would get their attention in a hurry. Brian Urlacher? Maybe. Marcus Harrison? Certainly a young defensive tackle with upside would be attractive. Mark Anderson? I don't know what the Broncos think about him after the last two seasons, and they could be looking for more stout ends. Alex Brown? Hey, we're talking about a quarterback that went to the Pro Bowl following his second full season. The desperate can't be too picky here. The point is if the Bears want to really go after Cutler, they need to be willing to pay any price. Is Briggs and a first-round pick too much? Consider how many linebackers the organization has produced since the days of Sid Luckman. Then consider how many quality quarterbacks the Bears have had since Luckman. How much worse could the Bears defense be without Briggs? Judging by the last two seasons, not much worse. The Bears have been in the bottom-third of the league both seasons. When you're that close to the bottom, the fall isn't too bad. General manager Jerry Angelo has had success cultivating draft picks on defense, even in the middle and late rounds. Replacing Briggs wouldn't be mission impossible. Replacing Luckman has been mission impossible. We'll delve further into the Cutler situation in a separate blog entry as well.
Q: Pro Football Weekly's latest mock draft has the Bears taking Mark Sanchez in the first round and Hakeem Nicks in the second. I'm guessing this is playing off the activity the Bears have had in free agency at offensive tackle activity. I, for one, would favor this scenario unless the Bears make a play for Jay Cutler and deliver him. I like Sanchez a lot. What do you think?
Bob K., Chicago
A: According to our buddy Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Sanchez lit it up Wednesday at his pro day. Chances are getting better and better that he will not be on the board when the Bears select at No. 18. There are coaches and scouts alike out there that value Sanchez more than Georgia's Matthew Stafford, who really struggled at times in some big games despite a terrific cast of surrounding talent. If Sanchez had more experience as a starter, he'd be ahead of Stafford on nearly every draft board. That's the issue in evaluating Sanchez. There is a good chance Nicks will be available when the Bears pick in the first round, but if he's falling a little bit after showing up out of shape at his pro day, he's not falling that far. He'd have to hit a freefall to make it to the Bears at No. 49. Could he slip into the second round? You cannot rule that out. But at that point the Bears would almost surely have to deal up to get him. I don't think he'd last into the second half of the round. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake is known to like Hicks. He likes his background, calls him a tough player who comes from a tough father who was a boxer. Nicks has a chance to be a Bear. I don't see it happening at No. 49 though.
Back to USC's pro day briefly. A source who attended the packed event told us that West Coast scout Marty Barrett was the only Bears' representative in attendance.
Q: I think the Bears should try to sign Drew Bennett. He could be a good No. 2 guy next to Devin Hester. Is Bennett getting any attention from the Bears?
Bjarke H., Copenhagen, Denmark
A: Bennett was a colossal free-agent bust for the St. Louis Rams, and they released him after two seasons in a $30 million contract. He made 33 catches in 2007 and then had one last year before a foot injury forced him to injured reserve. I think Angelo has been pretty clear that the first place he is looking for wide receiver help is the draft. Fortunately, there is a good crop of receivers this time around and the team is doing its homework. We reported first right here the Bears are having a get-together with Brian Robiskie and will work out Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi next week. They are some possession-type guys who don't have Bennett's size, but could be decent contributors early in their careers.
Q: I have not heard anything about how much money Matt Forte will be making this year. I do hope they make him very comfortable for I believe this guy is going to be a large part of the future for the Bears.
Jack Griswold, Spring Bay, Ill.
A: Forte received a four-year contract as a second-round pick that is worth $3.71 million. His base pay this coming season will be the minimum, $385,000. A big chunk of his deal has come in the form of bonus money. To get the really big money, unless a player is a very high first-round pick, he's got to hit his second contract. In Forte's case, that probably means two more productive seasons. That's the real challenge for running backs because they need to stay healthy while being productive in order to cash in. A guy like Atlanta's Michael Turner got to bide his time as a backup for seasons in San Diego and then break out a little bit before free agency. It paid off big. The Falcons had no trouble investing in him because they knew he had low mileage. At this rate, Forte will be a high mileage guy after there or four seasons. He's proven durable throughout his college career and one season with the Bears. Stay tuned.
Thanks for participating and thanks as always for reading. We'll check back with another Q&A in Four Down Territory this weekend.