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.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”