Between injuries and poor play at various positions, the Bears need people. At quarterback. At linebacker. Short-term, they hope, but no less critical, because if there is falloff, the season will be lost by the time Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs return from their injuries.
Three general methods of personnel improvement are available to the Bears, although the first one in particular is very unlikely.
The trading deadline was moved back this year but chances of the Bears availing themselves of that tactic are minute. Something obviously can always happen. And general manager Phil Emery has used trades in building the team to this point.
But Emery has myriad positions to address next offseason, already has had to pass up draft-day prospects because of being without 2012-13 third-rounders because of the Brandon Marshall trade. Mortgaging the future for a player another team didn’t want, and presumably just for the balance of this season, is not a serious solution.
“Trades aren’t dependent on injury perspective,” Emery said. “Trades are dependent on getting correct value in the exchange. That’s the most important thing — to not put your club in a position that you lose value while trying to gain a player.
“We’ve worked trades here the last couple of weeks, we just haven’t found the correct combination of value and player exchange.”
The Bears are going this route for quarterback help with Jordan Palmer to back up Josh McCown. Palmer is not your typical street free agent, however.
“Based on what he did in the training camp and the preseason, No. 1 he became very [fluent] in our offensive language very quickly,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He’s very motivated on his own to get himself ready because we were getting ready for a season at the time we were getting ready to play the last preseason game. You know how that works. He impressed us. He was very efficient running the offense when he was in there on very short notice. So that’s where we’ll start. We feel good that he’s available and we can bring him in to back up Josh."
The New York Giants got something out of Peyton Hillis in their Monday night win over the Minnesota Vikings. Hillis scored on a short run but netted 36 yards on 18 carries and is not looked upon as a linchpin of any winning-caliber running game. If the Giants were looking for that, the Bears might have answered a call regarding availability of Michael Bush, who isn’t being used at this point anyway.
And the reason why Hillis was in a uniform was because stop-gap Brandon Jacobs lasted exactly one game (against the Bears) before going inactive with a hamstring injury.
There is always a reason why certain players are not in helmets come this time of year. The Bears made a move bringing in defensive tackle Landon Cohen, who’s made some plays, and Palmer is a natural fill behind McCown. McCown himself was a quality emergency addition once upon a time.
The Bears found Robbie Gould on the street but kickers are a different situation. And starting linebackers, defensive linemen or just about every other type of position player are not out of work at this point of a season.
The Bears have found some help on other teams’ practice squads, which offer players at least in some sort of current NFL shape. It may now be the best source of talent to help immediately.
Linebacker Nick Roach was on the San Diego practice squad in 2007 when the Bears found him. Defensive tackle Matt Toeaina was signed off the Cincinnati practice squad in 2007 and played immediately.
Linebacker Jerry Franklin was signed off the Dallas practice squad last December. Defensive end David Bass was ticketed for Oakland’s practice squad prior to the start of this season. The Bears signed him to the 53-man roster where his playing time has been on the rise.