Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
By John Mullin
Elaborating on an earlier item...
How the Bears running back situation played out this year was an intriguing case study as Matt Forte had the best year of his career in the wake of the offseason signing of veteran Chester Taylor. Thomas Jones had never been as good as he was when the Bears drafted Cedric Benson. As coaches are fond of saying, there is nothing like competition.
The fate of Taylor now is another issue, however. As I reported recently, an NFL source said the Bears will part ways with Taylor, who signed a four-year contract last March for a respectable 12.5 million that included 7 million in the first year. But this is not entirely about money.
A problem for Taylor, besides a decided lack of impact in the ground game, is that the Bears invested a seventh-round pick last July in the supplemental draft on BYU tailback Harvey Unga, whom they signed for a four-year deal. At 237 pounds Unga was a potential fit as a short-yardage back (Taylors best value-added for the Bears) as well as an H-back but was forced onto IR with a hamstring injury in training camp.
The Bears may opt to let camp play out before making a move on Taylor. And it would not be strictly due to finances. They already have paid the heavy freight charges on Taylor, and GM Jerry Angelo and contract guru Cliff Stein dont do shell deals that are back-loaded such that no one expects to see final years.
But Taylor averaged less per carry in 2010 than Garrett Wolfe in any of Wolfes previous three NFL seasons, and Taylor is 32 and not a contributor on special teams.
Taylor had 338 rushing yards for the Vikings in 2009 in a complementary role behind Adrian Peterson. He managed just 267 yards and 2.4 yards per carry as Fortes relief but provided some in-close pop with 3 touchdowns, plus two 1-yard scoring bursts in the playoff games. He averaged 1 yard or less per carry in six of the last eight games.
This would not be the first time, nor the most costly one-and-done for the Bears. They signed veteran cornerback Thomas Smith away from the Buffalo Bills in 2000 for a 22.5 million package in 2000. That was Smiths one year as a Bear.
Courts in session
The Bears 2011 schedule may have just gotten a shade less difficult, depending on the order of battle and subject to possible further legal goings-on.
Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com reports that a judge has ruled in favor of the NFL in the StarCaps supplement case. If the ruling holds un-reversed, the league may be in position to suspend Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams as well as New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, all members of teams facing the Bears next season.
No good feelings here. You want football issues settled on the field, not on the bench, judges or otherwise.
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.