NFL lockout to cost veteran players money?

NFL lockout to cost veteran players money?

Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted: 9:05 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The impasse between NFL owners and players has for some time pointed toward the draft coming before some form of free agency. That unfortunately also points toward costing veterans money and giving teams a significant financial boost.

The enormous number of potential free agents, upwards of 450 by most counts, means a target-rich environment for teams. In a supply-demand economy, which the NFL is, that means more players options for teams; and when the supply of something is higher, prices typically are lower rather than higher.

Elite players will always command elite dollars. The price for a Julius Peppers will be high because there are not many Julius Peppers.

But add to that the situation where teams will have invested draft choices to address needs and you have decreased job opportunities for veteran free agents who in normal years would have been signed before teams turned to the draft.

Now, if a team has spent even a mid-round draft choice on a position, that organization is less likely to sign a veteran to a position already filled in its mind. If the Bears select a guard with a high pick, for example, they are all or part of the way out of at least the top end, i.e., pricier, market for guards.

And as if there werent enough already lining up in teams favor, fold in a less-expensive salary structure for rookies...

Austin sitting limits

The draft stock of defensive tackle Marvin Austin, particularly with the Bears, will be something to monitor. He was suspended and missed his entire senior season at North Carolina after being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for dealings with an agent. By Austins description those involved two trips each to California and to Miami.

Those and the suspension that came with them hurt the 6-2, 310-pound with respect to draft status, given the presumed first-round grade on him through his junior season. Character questions may indeed plague Austin, who plays a position of need for the Bears but whether GM Jerry Angelo will invest a high pick on a character question after his Tank Johnson experience is problematic.

Beyond just the draft status, however, the back-channel buzz about Austin hurt him personally.

There were so many rumors about, I did this and was getting cars and a lot of things that werent true, things about me as a person and it was extremely hard, Austin said during the Combine. Its still hard to watch some of the stuff thats said about my character.

Ive never taken a drink in my life. Ive never smoked in my life. Ive done everything to get to this point, but one mistake, taking a couple of trips, and one of them was taken to help me get better as an athlete, has cost me may whole senior season and my image.

And I had to sit and listen to my little sister ask me, Marvin, I heard
you were drinking and all of this. So it was an extremely tough situation, but I got through it and Im a lot stronger for it and I think its going to make me a whole lot better professional.

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.

Banged-up Bears reportedly add running back Joique Bell

Banged-up Bears reportedly add running back Joique Bell

With Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem on the shelf with injury, the Bears have reportedly signed running back Joique Bell.

Bell spent four seasons with the Lions, tallying 2,235 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns from 2012 to 2015. He also added 161 receptions for 1,640 yards and another score.

Bell was released in February as the Lions opted to get younger at the position.

The 220-pound Bell will provide depth for the Bears at yet another position where they've been ravaged by injury. Ka'Deem Carey missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury suffered the previous week, and Langford will reportedly miss four-to-six weeks with an ankle injury suffered Monday night.

That leaves rookie Jordan Howard, who has shown promise in his first three games, and Raheem Mostert on the depth chart.

The Bears host the Lions on Sunday.

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Coming off two long fourth quarter drives by the Titans the week before that cost them their home opener, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers kept Detroit's defense in the dumps Sunday, shredding the Lions for 31 first-half points.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been tasked with replacing the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Stephen Tulloch over the last couple of years, and having to Band-Aid the unit from key injuries. One was game-changing linebacker DeAndre Levy, who played just 17 snaps all of 2015 after signing a $20 million extension. Austin, who's had nine head coaching interviews the past two off-seasons, had to be welcoming Levy back with open arms. Then he suffered a quad injury in the Titans game, sat out versus the Packers, and his status will be one to watch this week.

Then there's Ziggy Ansah, the fifth overall pick from 2013 who's only in his sixth year of even playing football.  His 14.5 sacks last season gave him 30 in 46 career games and made him the new centerpiece of the defense. But the Ghana native sustained a high ankle sprain in that same game against the Titans and is not expected to be ready for Sunday's noon date on the lakefront.

Who could possibly pick up some of that pass rush slack? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kerry Hyder.

Who?

The undrafted free agent spent 2014 on the Jets' practice squad, then moved to the Lions last year. He almost seemed destined to spend another year on The Squad before he finished the preseason strong. The door opened, and the 6-foot-2, 270-pound end has four sacks so far. Tackle Haloti Ngata, who is 32 years old, struggled with injuries after coming over to help replace Suh, but finished strong, and has started well. Second-round pick A'Shaun Robinson rotates in after the Alabama product was passed over by the Bears.

[MORE BEARS IN-FOE: From Megatron to MegaMarv?]

Levy's injury left the Lions with only four linebackers at Lambeau after one promotion from the practice squad. Speedy, physical Tahir Whitehead took over for the now-departed Tulloch in the middle and earned his way into the starting lineup the last couple of years. Austin has given the other starting spot to Kyle Van Noy in a last-ditch attempt to prove spending a second-round pick on him in 2014 wasn't a mistake.

The secondary includes a stud corner and safety. Darius Slay (2013 second round) has turned into their shutdown guy and signed a four-year, $48 million extension in July. Nevin Lawson is just 5-9 but plays physical and fast opposite Slay - and was called for a 66-yard (!) pass interference penalty Sunday. Free safety Glover Quin's interception has the defense's lone takeaway this season and is one of the game's best. The team invested a fourth-round pick on heavy-hitting Miles Kinnebrew, and injury-prone Rafael Bush in free agency. But former Illini Tavon Wilson was signed away from the Patriots and held down the strong side before departing Sunday's loss with a neck injury.

Special teams

The Lions' coverage teams are top ten in both punts and kickoffs. The loss of Ameer Abdullah to his foot injury will affect the return game firepower, with backup wideout Andre Roberts filling in. Kicker Matt Prater is 5-for-6 on field goals thus far after being fifth in accuracy last year, including a 59-yarder versus the Bears at Soldier Field in last year's season finale.