Who Else Should The Chicago Bears Trade?


The second stage of rebuilding has started for the Chicago Bears over the past week, as they’ve traded defensive end/outside linebacker Jared Allen and former starting middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic to the Panthers and Patriots, respectively, and released Brock Vereen.

I’m a firm believer that the first step of rebuilding is realizing that you need to rebuild; it’s a difficult decision to make, because it means accepting that the current ingredients you have are mostly wrong and that you won’t be good for the foreseeable future. A rebuild takes time, and in this case, the patience to deal with an impatient media and fanbase in a win-now, win-always league.

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If acceptance is the first step, then the simultaneous trading of veterans (Allen, Bostic) for draft picks and cutting bait with lousy young players (Vereen) is step two.

The Bears didn’t get much for Allen – a conditional sixth-round pick that hopefully will improve – while somehow collecting another sixth-round pick for Bostic, who has struggled in two seasons and hasn’t played a snap yet in 2015 as he deals with various injuries. The Bears, probably correctly, assumed there wasn’t tradable value for Vereen (safeties who can’t cover or tackle are low on most team’s wish lists, I guess) and waived him Tuesday.

The step of trading veteran assets should continue with Matt Forte and Willie Young.

Nov 16, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Willie Young (97) shakes hands with member of the US Air Force after the game at Soldier Field. Chicago Bears defeat the Minnesota Vikings 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Trading Young, as we discussed here, is a no-brainer. Before he came to the Bears prior to the 2014 season, he was a skilled young pass rusher whose talents had yet to result in many sacks. That changed in 2014, when he notched 10 sacks before tearing his Achilles tendon late in the season.

He’s shifted to play outside linebacker in the Bears’ new 3-4 defense, and hasn’t fared well. But it doesn’t seem to trace back to the injury; when he’s on the field, which hasn’t been much, he seems to be running fine. He’s just not a good fit in the current scheme, and should be traded to a team that needs a pass rusher in a passing league.

I’m not sure what they could get for Young – predicting trade value in terms of draft picks is difficult – but I would think that since he’s a younger pass rusher still in the prime of his career and on two teams has proven capable of putting pressure on quarterbacks, that they should be able to get another late-round pick for him. He’s not contributing on the Bears, but on another team, as a situational pass rusher, Young should be able to contribute, especially once he’s back to his old role as a 4-3 defensive end.

Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) runs past Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

As much as it hurts, the Bears should look to trade Forte, too. He’s 29, it’s a contract year, and if the Bears are rebuilding, I’m not sure signing him past this season helps that effort. Plus, he’s looked like the same Matt Forte as always this season, meaning he’s still one of the best backs in the league, and they should be able to get a solid pick for him. Against Green Bay he showed the same burst he’s always had, and in all three games he’s shown the same ability to churn out the tough yards. He’s averaging 92 yards a game; that’s a feature back a contender would be getting, not some third-down or goalline back.

I hate the idea of trading Forte; he’s been one of the best players on the Bears since he was drafted in 2008, and is the third-best running back in team history. Trading him would make watching this year’s Bears even more difficult. But right now, the Bears need the draft picks to fix the team’s future, and that’s where Forte presents more value. A running back, especially one closer to the end of his career than the start, collecting 1,300-1,400 yards on a last-place team doesn’t mean much for the team’s future.

It would be better for Forte to be traded to a contender – I’m thinking possibly Carolina again, since Jonathan Stewart is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry, while Forte is at 4.7 and would give Cam Newton another target in the passing game — to give him another shot in the playoffs. That would help him get closer to a title and the Bears would collect a draft pick – maybe a third-round pick, since Allen and Bostic were worth sixth-rounders – to help fix their future. The Bears could also then give more carries to rookie Jeremy Langford and second-year man Ka’Deem Carey to help figure out what the team has in the two young, mostly unknown, backs.

Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a catch during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Green Bay won 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

On the flip side, trading Alshon Jeffery, as ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson discussed, is madness. I understand the arguments – he’s dealt with some injuries during his career, he’s in a contract year and could bring a comparable draft pick to what the Bears could get for Forte.

But are the Bears really at the point where a good 25-YEAR-OLD player is expendable? That’s not rebuilding; that’s setting the Bears back even further than trading veterans does. He’s a good young player. That’s not something you give away in a rebuild unless there’s other factors (such as friction with the coaching staff, which there isn’t, as far as I know). That’s the type of player you keep and make a part of the team’s future, not get rid of. Trading a player that young — and a good player, at that — simply creates another position the Bears need to fill.

The Bears should make every effort to resign Jeffery this offseason, and if they can’t, put the franchise tag on him and keep trying to sign him. At 25, Jeffery is young enough to where he would still be an impact player by the time Ryan Pace, John Fox and company have fixed the team. If it takes three or four years for them to fix the roster, Jeffery would still be short of 30 years old and would still be a good-to-great receiver in the league. That’s not something you trade away.

If they can resign Jeffery, that would give the Bears Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Jeffery and Marquess Wilson next year. That would mean the wide receiver position was one less position the new regime would need to fix. Trading Jeffery just creates another need.

The Bears need draft picks, and trading Forte and Young accomplishes that goal; trading Jeffery simply sets the team back further than it needs to go in order to fix the roster.

Next: Jimmy Clausen Should Not Be The Bears' Backup Quarterback

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