NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that the San Francisco 49’ers tampered with then free agent Lance Briggs and force them to forfeit their 5th round draft pick. He also ordered the teams to exchange third round draft picks, moving the Bears from the 12th pick in the 3rd round, up to the 7th pick of the 3rd round. The move gives the Bears stronger positioning in a very important draft to rebuilt the offense or use it for potential draft trades.
The significance of 5 spots could be huge for a Bears team that will likely look to the third round to draft a running back, wide receiver, or quarterback. In almost every draft there is a player who unexpectedly drops to the second round. If a potential first round quarterback or running back is available in the second round, the Bears have the luxury to grab him knowing they have high picks in the third round to fill other need positions.
The NFL still has to decide want round to award a draft pick the Bears for losing Bernard Berrian. The league makes decisions on later round draft picks based upon the size of contracts signed by leaving free agents with other teams. The size of the contract Berrian signed with the Minnesota Vikings could potentially reward the Bears with at least an additional 5th round pick and could potentially be a 4th or even 3rd round pick depending on how the NFL weighs the move.
This comes on the heels of reports the Bears are holding private luncheons with Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. McFadden is a top draft pick and Jones will likely be available much later in the draft. If the NFL awards additional draft picks to the Bears they may try to package several picks together to trade up and grab McFadden or trade down and count on getting Jones. Either way it presents an interesting move for Halas Hall to find an immediate fix at running back and could possibly signal that Cedric Benson has suddenly given the Bears reason to believe he is not ready to be the starting running back. Benson has spent a lot of time on the injured list and his rehabilitation from his latest injury may be giving the Bears concerns.
I still believe the Bears feel offensive tackle is a top priority, but with a deep talent pool at tackle they may be willing to either trade up and grab a huge talent at running back or trade down to grab a quality lineman and running back. The next few weeks could prove crucial for the franchise.