The Bears have to feel a little snake-bitten right about now. Last year it was Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, and now it's Brian Urlacher going on the shelf. It didn't take long before I was asked if this could hurt Urlacher's chances of re-signing with the team next year, and you have to admit it's now going to become a hot topic. Before the season began, I thought it would be a long shot to bring back the aging linebacker, but I started thinking today it may not be so far-fetched for him to get a short deal in the two-year range IF the Bears' brass believes he is still capable of playing at a high level. If they don't think he can do that and stay healthy, all bets are off. Perhaps the biggest thing working in Urlacher's favor is the progress made by so many young defensive players. Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Major Wright, Chris Conte and Corey Wooton have all shown they are the future of this defense, which means the organization isn't forced to immediately invest in defensive players. The current crop of young guys are not high priced, and only Melton is in line to get big money. That means paying Urlacher shouldn't hurt the team from a cap standpoint. On the flip side they may have to invest on the offensive line, which will no doubt be the number one focus when the off-season arrives. Even if that is the case, a top level offensive line free agent will cost big dollars and it's unclear if Phil Emery would spend that on a veteran or invest in a young player in the draft. Regardless, I'm not sold that this is the end of Urlacher in a Bears Uniform, and if not he can thank the young kids on defense for him sticking around.
The starting quarterback for the reigning Super Bowl champs?
It might be a Northwestern alum.
Trevor Siemian, who was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of last year's NFL Draft, is very much in the mix to succeed Peyton Manning as the Broncos' starting quarterback, according to the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
The Broncos' quarterback situation has been a hot topic during this NFL offseason. Manning rode into the sunset, retiring after winning his second Super Bowl in February, and backup Brock Osweiler signed a free-agent deal with the Houston Texans.
And while Denver brought in former USC star Mark Sanchez as a free agent and used a first-round draft pick on Memphis' Paxton Lynch, head coach Gary Kubiak is telling reporters he "wouldn't sleep on" Siemian to beat out both for the starting job.
"I think Trevor has a maturity to him. He’s kind of the sleeper, I would say. Trevor knows the offense. He’s very comfortable and can throw the ball too," Kubiak said, quoted in Renck's story. "We’ve also seen him make big plays in the preseason games under the lights. I wouldn’t sleep on Trevor to win the job, either."
Siemian didn't throw a pass during his rookie season, but if he were to beat out Sanchez and Lynch for the Broncos' starting gig, he'd be the first Northwestern product to start an NFL game at quarterback in the 21st century. Two others — Brett Basanez and Mike Kafka — threw a combined 27 passes in five NFL games during the 2006 and 2011 seasons.
Early this month, UNLV transfer Ben Carter announced he'd be playing his final season of NCAA eligibility at Michigan State.
Tuesday, the Spartans officially announced Carter's addition, and head coach Tom Izzo — who was in need of some front-court help — welcomed a player he called a "bona fide 4-man."
"What struck me about Ben from the very first time I talked to him was that the most important thing to him was winning and being a part of a championship team," Izzo said in the team's announcement. "(Former UNLV interim) coach (Todd) Simon felt Ben was one of the keys to their team last season before he was injured in January. He's going to give us a bona fide 4-man, but once again, it's his passion for winning that most impressed me. After meeting with him and his family on their visit, I'm excited to say that we are adding a good player and a great kid."
Carter should give Izzo and the Spartans a good deal of assistance. Before that aforementioned season-ending ACL tear in January, Carter was averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds a game in 24 minutes a game for the Runnin' Rebels.
A total of five forwards — including two members of Michigan State's starting five — from last season's team departed this offseason. Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman graduated, Deyonta Davis is off to the NBA Draft and Javon Bess and Marvin Clark Jr. both transferred.
Carter joins a front court that returns Gavin Schilling and welcomes in incoming freshman Nick Ward.
Another departure from the Minnesota basketball program.
The Gophers announced Tuesday that Charles Buggs will transfer out of the program following his graduation and will seek to play his final season of NCAA eligibility elsewhere.
"I want to take the time to thank everyone including our coaching staff and especially Minnesota fans for their support and efforts throughout my time here," Buggs said in the team's announcement. "Being part of the University of Minnesota athletic program, I was able to not only make friends but formulate a new family that helped me grow as an athlete and a person. I will always support the University and Minnesota and hope to get the opportunity to give back to the school and the athletic program as much as it has given me."
After redshirting as a freshman, Buggs played for the Gophers over the last three seasons, averaging a career-high 5.9 points per game last season in 24 minutes a game.
"It has been a pleasure to coach Charles over the past three years and see his continued development and growth as a basketball player and a person," head coach Richard Pitino said in the announcement. "Charles has always represented the university with class, and I am especially proud of him graduating. He has a bright future in basketball and life ahead of him and will no doubt find success wherever he goes."
Minnesota was a miserable 8-23 last season, the 23 defeats setting a program record. All that losing has Pitino on the hot seat, and a host of disciplinary issues led to multiple suspensions and dismissals last season.
Buggs is the second player to transfer out of the program since the season ended, joining Kevin Dorsey, who according to the Star Tribune transferred "following a suspension for the final four games after sex videos appeared on his social media sites."