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Bears GM Ryan Pace Not Talking About Contract Standoff With Rookie Roquan Smith

Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith is still absent from training camp as he is now the lone draft choice unsigned.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace broke his silence on the matter Monday, Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reports.

In his first public interview since reporting day at Olivet Nazarene University on July 19, Pace skillfully steered around a series of questions on how the Bears are handling Smith’s contract negotiations.

“That’s obviously a big topic right now,” the GM said during a guest appearance on WMVP-AM 1000. “And for us, these are important and critical reps that are going on right now. But to get into the nitty gritty details isn’t something we feel we should do publicly. That’s behind the scenes. We have a lot of respect for him obviously and a lot of respect for his agents. And it’s a matter of just working through that.”

Pace has not been made available to reporters at Bears camp since the team started practicing a week-and-a-half ago. Monday’s radio cameo provided the GM an opportunity to share the team’s side of the Smith saga. But Pace offered little insight into how long Smith’s holdout might last or how the Bears will ultimately find a resolution to this situation.

“The good thing is we have strong relationships with these agents,” Pace said. “There are a number of guys on our team (who use) the same agency. We’ve dealt with them on a number of deals. It’s just working through those things. But to talk about anything related to contracts publicly is just not healthy. It’s not productive. But you can bet it’s important to us. It’s important to Roquan and we’re working on it.”

Pace said he appreciates the league’s intent to improve player safety by implementing the new rule to discourage players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact. Still, there seems to be anxiety amongst executives, coaches, players and agents leaguewide in regards to how consistently and frequently the new rules will be enforced with 15-yard penalties and possible ejections and suspensions.
“We’re all working through that,” Pace said. “This is a little bit new for all of us.”

New Bears TE Trey Burton Says There’s Similarities Between Champion Eagles and the 2018 Bears

Tight end Trey Burton won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles last year, a season after Philly ended up in the cellar of the NFC East.

This offseason, Burton signed with the new-look Chicago Bears. The 26-year-old told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday he sees a lot of similarities between his former team and his new one, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

“We were picked to finish last place in the division last year in Philly,” Burton said. “There are a ton of similarities. You look at Philly two years ago, the majority of our games were lost by less than a touchdown. If you look at Chicago last year, there’s a good amount of those games that they lost. It’s just about getting over that hump. You have to be able to win close games. There’s so many small details that happen in order for you to lose those games.”

The offseason changes in Chicago made the Bears an enticing landing spot for Burton. The tight end mentioned the offensive-minded new coach Matt Nagy, the importing of talented pass-catchers in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and rookie Anthony Miller, and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as reasons he signed in Chicago.

“Nagy is definitely one of the top reasons why,” Burton said.”A young quarterback who can play at a high level is definitely something I looked at…Also the offense, too. It’s completely the same as what we were doing in Philadelphia. A lot of similar terminology and if you don’t have to learn a whole new offense, that’s a game-changer for you.”

Added Burton: “Nagy obviously knows what it takes to win at a high level, [the Chiefs] were in the playoffs last year. There’s tons of talent on the roster from last year, guys like Tarik Cohen. I played with Darren Sproles for four years and I would never compare any player to Sproles, I would never disrespect, but Cohen is right up there with his abilities with how shifty he is and how fast he is and those guys are extremely smart as well. Obviously there’s Jordan Howard, too. I could go down the list of names of really good players in Chicago. We added a couple guys. Your second year in the league from year one to year two is the biggest difference, so Mitch is going on year two. I know I experienced that myself, so I’m just really excited to see when the live balls are flying just to see how him and those guys react.”

Video: Will Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky Find Success in a New Offense in 2018?

ChicagoTribune

On CBS Sports HQ, senior NFL writer Will Brinson joins Casey Keirnan to break down whether Mitchell Trubisky can find success in the Bears’ offense.

Can the Bears Go From Worst to First in 2018? Pro Football Weekly Discusses Their Chances

There’s been plenty of buzz around the Bears since the NFL Draft nearly two weeks ago, as many think that the turnaround for the team will be swift, and not the long drawn out process that it’s taken for the team to start winning.

Today Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm put out an article ranking all eight last place teams from the 2017 season, and if there’s a chance they can make it all the way to first place in 2018.

According to the article, the Bears have the 6th best shot to unseat the Vikings for the Division title in 2018 – a feat that won’t come easy.

6. Chicago Bears (5-11)

There’s actually a very strong case to be made for the Bears to be one of the NFL’s more improved teams in 2018. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky wasn’t bad in his 12-game baptism, and the offseason has been all about loading up the offense to help him.

There’s a whole new cast of wide receivers, led by Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel, plus the addition of tight end Trey Burton and whatever Kevin White might offer in what could be his last-gasp season in Chicago. The offensive line also feels a bit more settled, and the new offensive braintrust of Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich (plus highly respected OL coach Harry Hiestand) should push the pedal more and put Trubisky in better situations.

On top of that, the defense — which ranked in the top 10 in points and yards allowed, plus sacks — and special teams appear to be respectable units. The Bears only scored two fewer touchdowns than their opponents last season and were 2-6 in one-score games. They were undressed in three games, all on the road, and two of those came with Mike Glennon at QB. After Trubisky took over, the Bears were outscored by a mere 13 points over those 12 games.

Still, this is a team that has major divisional obstacles — namely the Packers and Vikings, not to mention the competitive Lions. The first two teams could be considered possible Super Bowl teams, and the Lions can’t be dismissed as playoff contenders. The Bears will have to be far better in division games (0-6 last season, and 4-20 the past four seasons) and home games (9-24 at Soldier Field dating back to the end of the 2013 season) if they want to harbor serious hopes of hosting a playoff game anytime soon.

Former Bears ILB Jerrell Freeman Announces His Retirement from the NFL

Former Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman announced his retirement on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports.

Freeman, 32, cited his health and his family as his top priorities in the announcement, which included thanks to his teammates, coaches and fans over his six-year NFL career.

“It’s been a long and rewarding journey,” he wrote. “Thank you to all that came along for the ride!!”

Freeman played his first four NFL seasons with the Colts and played in 13 games over the last two years with the Bears. He had 110 tackles and four passes defended in 2016.

Freeman suffered a torn pectoral muscle and a concussion in the season opener against the Falcons in 2017 and didn’t play in another game for the Bears.

In October, he was suspended 10 games for violating the NFL policy against performance-enhancing drugs. It was his second violation in two seasons. He served a four-game suspension for his first violation in 2016.

He spoke of the concussion, resulting memory loss and taking pills to cope with his condition in a Twitter post last fall.

Freeman had signed a three-year, $12 million deal in 2016, but the Bears informed him his contract would be terminated in February.

Bears Earn an ‘B+’ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Bears, who according to Kiper got an ‘B+’ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

Let’s face it: Mitchell Trubisky didn’t have a great rookie year. There’s a reason John Fox is out and Matt Nagy is in. Nagy, who coached under Andy Reid in Kansas City, is an innovative offensive mind, and his first job is to get the best out of Trubisky. That means adapting the offense to his strengths. For GM Ryan Pace, the best way to help Trubisky is to get him some weapons, and that’s clearly what was addressed this offseason with free-agent deals for pass-catchers Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. Pace even brought in kicker Cody Parkey to get some points on the board. I believe in Trubisky’s talent — if he’s put in the right situation. And now the situation is much better for him to have a productive 2018.

To continue the theme of helping Trubisky, the Bears added James Daniels (pick 39), my second-ranked center who could play guard next to Cody Whitehair, and moved up to grab the draft’s most underrated receiver in Anthony Miller (51). It was a lot to give up — a 2019 second-round pick and a fourth-rounder this year — but Miller will play early and often. The former walk-on had 96 catches and 18 touchdowns in 2017.

Like I said after Thursday night, I didn’t expect Roquan Smith to be on the board at No. 8, and he’s going to become the face of the Bears defense. He’s not built like Brian Urlacher, but he’s a sure tackler and sideline-to-sideline linebacker. He’s also going to be a leader on an improving — and young — defense. Joel Iyiegbuniwe (115) is a hybrid defender who will make an impact on special teams. Kylie Fitts (181) had trouble with injuries at Utah, but he can play a role as a situational edge rusher.

This isn’t a perfect class — and that 2019 second-round pick sure could have come in handy for a rebuilding team — but I like the players, and the biggest needs were all filled. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/8 Roquan Smith OLB GEORGIA
2/39 James Daniels C IOWA
2/51 Anthony Miller WR MEMPHIS
4/115 Joel Iyiegbuniwe OLB WESTERN KENTUCKY
5/145 Bilal Nichols DT DELAWARE
6/181 Kylie Fitts DE UTAH
7/224 Javon Wims WR GEORGIA

Pace Says the Health of WR Cameron Meredith Lead to the Bears Not Matching the Saints Offer

Bears general manager Ryan Pace said on Tuesday that input from Chicago’s team physicians and training staff weighed heavily in the organization’s decision to decline to match the offer sheet that wide receiver Cameron Meredith received from the Saints, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago reports.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Meredith left the Bears, Pace hinted that the wide receiver’s serious knee injury, suffered last preseason, was the overriding factor in Chicago’s letting him go.

Meredith, 25, led the Bears with 66 receptions, 888 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2016. He missed the entire 2017 season after he tore knee ligaments in Chicago’s third preseason game at Tennessee last summer.

“Without getting into specifics, obviously he was coming off an injury,” Pace told reporters at his annual pre-draft news conference. “We lean on our training staff and our docs. Hey, I got a lot of respect for Cam and a lot of respect for the organization he went to. We wish him luck.”

The 2018 Bears Season Schedule is Out – A Quick Glance at the Good and the Bad

The NFL Thursday evening released the entire slate for the 2018 NFL season, including the 16 game schedule for the Bears, an annual big day in the life of football fans everywhere.

Here’s a quick look at the Beras schedule, along with two quick thoughts on the good of the schedule, and the not so good.

The Good: The Bears have a pretty even slate early, but then have four of five games at home in weeks 7 through 11, with games against the Pats, Jets, Lions and Vikings. By all means if this team is going to be in the mix for a wild card or division title, they need to get a couple wins in these games.

The Bad: They finish the season with two road games, at San Fran against the 49ers and at Minnesota against the team that won the division last season and will again be a challenge in 2018. If the Bears have a shot at the postseason, these two games to end the regular season won’t be easy.

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