Chicago Bears Should Trade Willie Young to 4-3 Team
The Chicago Bears transition to a 3-4 defense has been widely publicized. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is bringing in his elaborate style of defense which is not anything like what Bears’ fans have seen their team do in the past.
The new 3-4 scheme caused for some position changes for some players. Most notably, the 4-3 pass rushing defensive ends who have played with their hands in the ground in the past, will now primarily be asked to stand up and play 3-4 outside linebacker.
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These players include future Hall of Famer Jared Allen, last year’s big free agent acquisition Lamarr Houston, obvious breakout candidate David Bass and last but not least, Willie Young, who finished 2014 with 10 sacks. Add in free agent additions from this off season Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho, and the Bears are suddenly loaded with options at the position.
Now, just because there are many options does not mean that the position is oozing with talent. McPhee is the best of the bunch, and he will get a huge opportunity to shine with the Bears this season, but there is nothing but question marks after him. However, Houston has 3-4 experience in his past, and as long as his recovery from injury continues to go smoothly, he is favorite to start opposite of McPhee.
Acho is not overly likely to start, but his bulk of experience in the 3-4 defense, and great special teams skills make him a player who the Bears need to try to keep around. Allen looks primed and ready to bounce-back after a rough 2014 season, and his extremely large contract makes him nearly impossible for the Bears to move anyway.
That leaves Bass and Young, and it hard to see the Bears keeping both. The easy move would be to cut Bass, but he has some serious potential as an outside pass rusher. I would hate to see the Bears cut him for nothing, instead of holding onto his potential and dirt cheap contract. Dangling Young on the trade market to a 4-3 team who he would be a much better fit, would be a much better solution.
Young was fantastic for the Bears last season. In his first season in the Windy City, Young was a force to be reckoned with totaling 10 sacks. In the other four years of his career with the Detroit Lions, Young combined for six sacks. Simply put, 2014 was a huge career year for him, and he was likely the Bears’ defensive MVP.
That being said, he is best suited to rush the passer from a down position in the 4-3. In fact, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Young does not feel comfortable playing the Bears’ outside linebacker position.
"“I don’t know anything about playing linebacker,” Young told Finley. “So obviously I study day in and day out now. It’s never a day off. Being in a 4-3, I can make strength calls left and right with my eyes closed. It doesn’t matter.”"
I am sure that Young is studying rapidly to learn what the Bears need him to do, but that quote is downright concerning to me. Young clearly does not have the confidence right now to play the outside linebacker position. While that will likely come with time, with so many options already at the position, the Bears would be most well-off trading Young in exchange for a 2016 draft pick who they can make sure fits their style of play.
I would have to imagine that any 4-3 team would be interested in adding Young to their stable of pass rushers. In fact, he would get a fair amount of interest on the trade market, and I would not be surprised to see the Bears land something as high as a third round pick in exchange for Young. On the surface, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants appear to be prime trade partners for the Bears concerning Young.
When it comes down to it, the Bears are unlikely to be able to keep all of their outside linebackers. They are going to have to make a decision on somebody eventually. Why not get value in the trade market while making that decision? This move would also put Young in a much more desirable situation for himself. It would be a win-win all around.
Next: Projecting the Bears Defensive Starters