Moon: A new idea to end the CBA stalemate

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Moon: A new idea to end the CBA stalemate

Thursday, Feb. 17, 20111:45 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Untying the Gordian knot of the NFLs collective bargaining agreement has been and will continue to be difficult. A proposed solution from Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com might offer at least a new tack to take in the direction that the NFL players want to go but without sacrificing core confidentiality that owners require.

Mikes idea on the disclosure of financial information, using an independent accounting firm acting in strict confidence, is along a line that should work for the owners, if they indeed want to reach an agreement with a group comprised of their de facto business partners.

The league in the past has used what was called an independent verifier for contract proposals. Team negotiators and agents could verify the accuracy of claims that a particular contract proposal had been put forward. Players are saying that they will work with the numbers proposed by ownership but would like books opened as a way of verifying the level of need the owners are claiming.

Applying that sort of mechanism here might clear one big hurdle in a mess that seems to have shrinking chances of clearing up as time goes along.

NFL Networks Rich Eisen visited with Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show and tossed around with Dan an overhaul that would expand the number of regular-season games as well as playoff teams. The net would be an increase of meaningful (i.e. not preseason) television weeks from 21 now (17 regular season, three conference playoffs, Super Bowl) to 23.

Sold, Rich said. Good thought.
Market-setting

The Green Bay Packers are finishing up the details of a three-year contract extension for coach Mike McCarthy, a deal that expected to pay McCarthy 5 million per season and likely to cap the pay grade for Lovie Smith.

Bob McGinn reports in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal that McCarthys current contract runs through 2012 and the new deal signs him through 2015.

There are coaches with bigger paychecks but not many, and as we have been noting for some time, the market is dipping for head-coach salaries as teams follow the course the Pittsburgh Steelers did with Mike Tomlin with great success. First-time coaches at more modest prices have been as or more successful than bigger-ticket field bosses like Mike Shanahan.

The Washington Redskins needed to wave 7 million in front of Shanahan but he listed two Super Bowl wins on his resume. The San Francisco 49ers did give first-timer Jim Harbaugh 5 million per season but insiders said ownership effectively told the front office that Harbaugh was the pick, leaving little room for negotiation.

The expectation remains that the Bears will at least offer Smith an extension at his current rate of about 5 million. Two additional years in this market should be good enough for Smith, who did not win his Super Bowl, whereas McCarthy did.

McCarthys new contract will place him in the top 10 of NFL coach salaries. Smith already is there.
Duly noted

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is of the mind that the successes of mobile quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, on top of a solid, sustained career run by Donovan McNabb (add 2010s Jay Cutler to that discussion), will weigh heavily in favor of Auburns Cam Newton. The more of these mobile quarterbacks that succeed in the NFL, McShay said Wednesday, the more teams will be willing to look outside the usual parameters."

Bears tight end Brandon Manumaleuna will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this offseason, the Chicago Tribune reports. Manumaleuna had a similar procedure last offseason and missed considerable training camp time. Sources told CSNChicago.com that Manumaleuna was regularly fined for being overweight during last season and it may be interesting to see if he downsizes to add quickness as well as take stress off his knees.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

View from the Moon: Bears make statement in taking tight end while passing on defensive backs

View from the Moon: Bears make statement in taking tight end while passing on defensive backs

With their second pick in the 2017 draft, the Bears addressed offense and did it in a way that, when coupled with one of their main offseason moves, makes for some very interesting what-ifs for the upcoming season.

The choice at No. 45 was tight end Adam Shaheen, who at 6-foot-6 and 278 pounds becomes the second significant addition at the position following the signing of Dion Sims (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) to a three-year deal. In a sometimes over-specialized NFL, the Bears have brought in not one but two every-down tight ends.

“Yeah, that’s accurate,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “So it opens up a lot of possibilities for our offense.”

The acquisitions of Shaheen and Sims hold some intrigue, if only because of sheer bulk, because the inescapable conclusion with the commitments to big tight ends is that the Bears might be serious about running the football. They ran 28.4 percent of their 2016 plays in personnel packages of two or three tight ends or with a tight end and fullback.

Under coordinator Dowell Loggains the Bears ran the football just 39.3 percent of the time in 2016. Head coach John Fox and Loggains cite the Bears’ frequent need to play catch-up as the reason why, though in 12 of the 16 games the Bears were tied, led or were within seven points at halftime. In fairness to Fox and Loggains, the Bears in fact arguably did not have the physical firepower at tight end to sustain a smash-mouth base of operations.

That said, both Shaheen and Sims also have a fully formed receiver side to their games, which is where the bigger-picture interest lies. Shaheen had 122 receptions over his last two seasons at Ashland. Sims caught 36, 25 and 35 passes in his final three years with the Miami Dolphins. Both Shaheen and Sims were high school basketball standouts; Shaheen played a year of basketball at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, while Sims was dual-recruited for football and basketball at Michigan State after finishing fourth in voting for Mr. Basketball in Michigan in 2009.

“I definitely think (the basketball stuff) helps,” Pace said. “Half the time, it’s like these tight ends are going up for a rebound and boxing out. And (Shaheen) definitely has it. When we talk about body control and catching radius, the ball is not always going to be on target. And Adam has the ability to do that. We confirmed that through the tape, and Frank (Smith, tight ends coach) was able to confirm it during the workout.”

Why not take a defensive back?

During the NFL owners meetings this spring, Pace said that the draft's depth of talented options was a factor in free-agency decisions as well as the draft. So his willingness to trade down in the second round of this draft was expected, given that it has been rated as one of the best-ever drafts for quality and depth at defensive back.

Of course, these were the same experts’ analyses that concluded that no quarterback would be drafted before the middle of the first round, when in reality three went in the first 12 picks after teams traded up, so ... oh, never mind.

The NFL collective seems to agree with the take on defensive backs: Of the 107 players selected through three completed rounds, 29 (27.1 percent) have been defensive backs (18 cornerbacks and 11 safeties). Meaning more than one-fourth of the 2017 draft picks have been defensive backs.

What wasn’t expected was Pace then making no move at either cornerback or safety even after the trade-down that recovered much of the draft capital expended to deal up to No. 2 for Mitch Trubisky. When the Bears’ pick at No. 45 came around, the Bears instead chose a smaller-college tight end.

First thoughts were that Pace agreed with thinking that said starter-grade corners in particular could be had as late as the fourth round — he reacquired a fourth-round pick in the trade with Arizona, giving him two (Nos. 117 and 119) — or that he had been outflanked by a sudden minor run on defensive backs. In the eight picks from No. 36 (the Bears’ original second-round slot) to No. 43, four defensive backs were snatched up, three of them safeties.

That clearly didn’t bother Pace, though the Bears ended Friday with a plan to take a revised look in the defensive back direction.

“Yeah, we’re going to have to kind of sort through it tonight and we’ll be here late tonight and early in the morning,” Pace said. “Kind of resetting our board and going through it again. We’re going to take best player available, and if it ends up being offensive players, that’s what it is.”

Adam Shaheen travels a different path to being the Bears’ second-round pick

Adam Shaheen travels a different path to being the Bears’ second-round pick

Adam Shaheen was a couple of things coming out of high school in Galena, Ohio: He was 6-foot-4 and weighed about 195 pounds, and was headed to Division II Pittsburgh-Johnstown to play basketball. 

Four years later, the Bears on Friday made the now 6-foot-6, 278 pound tight end their second-round draft pick. He was the fifth tight end selected, behind first-rounders O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay, No. 19), Evan Engram (New York Giants, No. 23), David Njoku (Cleveland, No. 29) and Gerald Everett (Los Angeles Rams, No. 44). 

Shaheen said he missed football after a year of playing basketball (he played football at Big Walnut High School in Ohio), with 2013’s memorable Ohio State-Wisconsin game giving him the itch to return to the sport. He wasn’t big enough to play football when he came out of high school, but coaches at D-II Ashland University saw something in him following his freshman hoops year and brought him into the program.

Then the weight gain began. Shaheen, initially weighing 225 pounds, was Ashland’s No. 3 tight end in 2014. And he continued to grow in his final two years there. 

Shaheen described how he bulked up last month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis:

“A lot of Chipotle burritos,” Shaheen said. “A lot of burritos. No, it all honestly it was a lot of burritos.” 

It wasn’t as easy a process as housing burritos would seem, though. 

“It was just a grind,” Shaheen said Friday. “You know, to put on that kind of weight and still maintain my athleticism, it was a good grind for two years.”

Shaheen went from catching two passes in nine games in 2014 to totaling 122 receptions for 1,670 yards and 26 touchdowns in his final two years at Ashland. Few players at the D-II level have the opportunity to pass up a final year of eligibility — Shaheen could’ve been a fifth-year senior in 2017 — to turn pro, but there wasn’t anything left for him to accomplish. 

“I did all I could really do to help my draft stock there,” Shaheen said. “Another year at that level — I didn’t think after discussing it with my family and friends and stuff it was really going to increase my draft stock if I did similar to what I did the previous two years.”