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Bears Wed Oct 23 2013

The Bears Have Tradable Assets -- If They Want

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngJust 12 days ago, the discussion in this space was the options the Bears had if the organization chose to add talent on the defensive line. After a difficult, high-scoring loss that involved a couple of devastating injuries to Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs, a legitimate question now is whether or not the Bears might actually trade someone away and play for the future. Oh how one week in the NFL can change minds so drastically.

The question of trades came up at Phil Emery's 'State of the Bears' press conference yesterday. His response: "We'll make trades as long as they're of equal value." He didn't rule anything out, but as I mentioned last week, trades are highly unlikely. The Bears have had conversations with other teams, but there's very little chance that anything will happen. Even though their defense has been horrendous (and now missing its best player), and Cutler is out for an extended period of time, the playoffs are still in play -- albeit, a long shot now.

If the Bears were to trade anyone away, they'd obviously be looking for draft picks in return -- considering they only have 28 guys under contract for next season. The cap hit would have to be minimal, the trading partner would need to possess the assets to make the deal (picks + cap space), and they'd want a quality player in return (sorry, nobody wants Major Wright, Chris Conte, etc). Here are guys that the Bears will definitely have conversations about (again, this doesn't mean I'm advocating a trade, just that these will be guys discussed):

Tim Jennings, CB

Jennings is in line for another Pro Bowl appearance this season, as he and Charles Tillman are both ranked sixth in the NFL with three interceptions apiece. Both are in the final year of their contracts, but Tillman isn't going anywhere because of his age, injury issues, and leadership. Jennings on the other hand, would be a huge get for anybody in need of a corner.

His cap hit the rest of the season for a trading team would be roughly $2.5 million, which is doable for most everyone in the league. The Broncos, Patriots, and Colts could all use help in the defensive backfields due to injuries each squad has suffered in recent weeks, and Jennings is a playmaker that playoff bound teams would surely covet. The Colts may shy away because they dealt their first round pick for Trent Richardson already (and are looking bad for doing so), but they surely need the help.

You might be asking why the Bears wouldn't sign him long-term during the offseason, and the answer is because of age. He'll be 30 next year, and if there is any erosion in his speed or leaping ability, he'll be picked on non-stop because of his size (5'8"). I'd wager on him for a two-year deal, but nothing more, so the Bears may see an opportunity to add an asset. It would take a third round pick on the absolute low end, and that might not even be a conversation starter. Still, his contract situation, skill, and position scarcity demand his placement here.

Roberto Garza, C

Interior linemen, especially centers, are difficult to trade for/away because they're the quarterbacks of the offensive line. They're responsible for making all the line and protection calls pre-snap. But Garza also has plenty of experience playing guard, and has played solid football so far this season. He's also in the final year of his contract, and wouldn't cost a team more than a 5th or 6th round pick to acquire more than likely. It would also give the Bears a chance to test out James Brown in regular season scenarios.

New England and Indianapolis pop up again as teams that could use help inside. Both have two interior linemen that are graded below negative-five so far this season, and are in the thick of playoff races. Kansas City and Seattle also have issues on the offensive line due to injuries, and could use an experienced player to smooth things out on the cheap.

Brandon Marshall, WR

WHAT!?!?! ARE YOU CRAZY!?!?!

Hear me out before you send the mob after me. Elite receivers don't come available very often, and teams will do just about anything to get them. The Bears traded a pair of third round picks to land Marshall, and since he has already been traded on his current contract, there is no cap penalty for dealing him. It's very unlikely anyone will pay the price for a somewhat crazy receiver, but if they want to step up to the plate, it's going to be for two draft picks, and the highest one better be in the second round.

Even though there wouldn't be a cap penalty for the Bears, Marshall's remaining $4.6 million (roughly) owed this year prices him out of most teams in the league. Once again, however, the Patriots remain a possible target because of desperate need and the money to make the move. They aren't averse to talkative receivers, as the team set records with Randy Moss running deep routes for Tom Brady a few years back. Their division rival, the New York Jets, are all desperate for WR help, and might be willing to make a deal if they feel it will help Geno Smith's development while also making them a legitimate playoff contender.

Again, trades are rare in the NFL, so I wouldn't expect, or even rate the likelihood of one involving the Bears at higher than two percent. But if they decided after watching this Sunday's games that their chances of reaching the playoffs is slim to none, it would make sense to turn current assets into future ones.

 
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