The Detroit Lions took one of the few elite pass rushers out of any free-agent market at this point when they applied the franchise tag to Cliff Avril on Monday morning.
With the Houston Texans talking to Mario Williams, chances of the Bears addressing their professed need for more edge pressure in free agent drop significantly.
Nearly two months remain before the NFL draft but the Bears best shot at securing a high-impact rusher appears to be from a strong pool of possible first-rounders in Quinton Coples from North Carolina, Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama, South Carolinas Melvin Ingram, Whitney Mercilus from Illinois and Nick Perry from USC.
Avril staying in Detroit is bad enough news for the Bears. He had 5 sacks in his last three games against the Bears and has been the chief beneficiary of the inside havoc wrought by tackle Ndamukong Suh.
The Lions met with Avrils camp on Sunday, according to Adam Schefter over at ESPN, but when no deal could be reached, the decision was made to use the tag with its one year at a guaranteed 10.6 million. A longer-term deal remains a possibility but the Lions are short of cap space and have others like linebacker Steve Tulloch to do as well.
Avril, 25, had 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles last season.
Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.
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But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
So, look at the film:
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel.
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
Look at the film.
In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: