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SportsMonday: The Bounce-Back Bears

They might just be doing it the best possible way. The Bears might be rebuilding on the fly in the manner that gives them the best chance to bounce back the fastest.

They are doing it without ever losing on purpose, i.e. pulling a Cubs-style tank job. And they are making it clearer and clearer that they allowed themselves one year and one year only (as opposed to say, three) of sub-standard football (during which time they still fought for every victory they could get). Next year it will be playoffs or bust.

Let's run down the latest developments, shall we? With pleasure.

It was pointed out in the aftermath of last week's signing of free agent inside linebacker Danny Trevathan - who is 26 years old by the way, he is just starting the heart of his career - that he has had health issues including a brutal knee injury a couple years ago.

So what did the Bears do? They hedged and came to an agreement with another promising inside linebacker, Jerrell Freeman, on Saturday. They are of course hoping the two will line up together but if one gets hurt at least they will have the other.

Trevathan comes to Chicago from Denver and Freeman, who is 29, last suited up for Tampa Bay.

This is what teams must do free agency in the "Rash of Injuries" Era in the NFL. No longer should it be said that teams with many players sidelined by injuries are plagued by bad luck. Many players suffering injuries is the new normal. Players are too fast and too strong for there to be much pro football played without significant casualties week after week.

And therefore when teams add free agents they can certainly consider whether the player is talented enough to make a real impact on the field. But they must also consider whether the player is affordable enough for the team to continue adding depth as free agency progresses.

Another big consideration has to be the free agent's age and sure enough Sunday night they Bears announced that they had reeled in giant defensive end Akiem Hicks, who is also all of 26 years old. Hicks was drafted by the Saints when Bears general manager Ryan Pace was there and played with the Patriots last year. He stands a mean 6-feet-5 and most recently weighed in at 324 pounds.

In case all of this isn't cool enough, Hicks and Freeman both spent portions of their football careers in Saskatchewan! I had to check the spelling on that because I think that is the first time I have ever mentioned the sparsely populated province of Canada located between Manitoba (home of Winnipeg) and Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton). I'm sure you appreciated this North American geography lesson and you are welcome. One new Bear played in Saskatoon, home of the CFL Roughriders and one in Regina - nice!

The Bears are doing what we hoped they would do - they are re-stocking their defense and building depth with free agent signees and giving themselves freedom in the draft. And they are seemingly doing so at prices they set.

Of course the signings of the two inside linebackers probably means this is goodbye to Shea McClellin. Ah Shea, who was the first pick made by short-time GM Phil Emery in 2012, I would say we hardly knew ya but we actually knew ya too well. McClellin, who had played defensive end and outside linebacker in college and then switched inside with the Bears in 2014, turned out to be a jack of all trades, master of absolutely none.

McClellin has reportedly met with the Jets and will probably sign with someone on the cheap and be hailed as a potential bargain and if nothing else more depth for his new defense, just like Freeman. But we will know that Freeman is the way better choice, won't we? Or maybe not.

The bottom line is, at least the Bears made the choice and then acted on it, decisively.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is a master of many trades, and not a jack at all. He welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021