With Cameron Meredith gone, all eyes shift to Kevin White. It’s a scenario that’s becoming way too familiar…
The First Kevin White Casualty
On March 6th, 2015, we received the first of what I am now calling the Kevin White casualties. That is, of course, the day that the Chicago Bears traded Brandon Marshall to the Jets. The return for that trade? A fifth round pick and an open roster spot into which Ryan Pace would insert Kevin White.
Why do I say that Brandon Marshall was a casualty when White wasn’t even around to push him out? Because of the given reason that there wasn’t going to be enough snaps to keep Marshall happy. There just weren’t enough with a first round pick and Alshon Jeffery also playing. So they moved Marshall for a pick. Just like that, we got rid of our first player to make room for White.
Now, we didn’t know it would be White, the draft can be funny that way, but that is who it was, and as such, the history is what it is. Kevin White Casualty number one.
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The Second Kevin White Casualty
The second Kevin White casualty came in the off-season of 2017. This is when Ryan Pace was trying to determine the value of Alshon Jeffery to the team. Many fans, and even some “experts” felt that the Bears were going to hit him with the tag again. Their reason was simple, it wasn’t prudent to rely on White and Cameron Meredith as your starting receivers.
At the time, Meredith was coming off of a good season, but had only had one under his belt. That season didn’t even top 1,000 yards. That is hardly enough to hang your team’s season on. White was coming off of his second straight season cut short by a season ending injury. As a result, many people felt that tagging Jeffery again made perfect sense. Unfortunately, Pace wasn’t among them.
Pace bet on Kevin White to replace Alshon Jeffery. No, he didn’t come out and say it, but he proved it by not signing someone to replace him or making the position a top priority in the draft. He decided that between Meredith and White, he could replace Jeffery’s production, he was wrong.
This is why I label Jeffery as the second casualty. If White was not on the roster, and had Pace not had a personal stake in his success, the Bear’s would most likely have re-tagged Jeffery. At least they would have signed/drafted someone else to replace him.
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The Third Kevin White Casualty
Now, we have a third Kevin White casualty in Cameron Meredith. No, White didn’t push him out the door. And, to be fair, you also need to remember that Meredith had his own issues as well (injury). Yet, as a result of White’s injury history, the Bears felt that they couldn’t afford another player returning from the IR.
(It’s also why I believe that they will likely take a receiver early still, but that’s another article entirely)
Imagine, if the Bears added Allen Robinson, and Kevin White was even a middle grade #2 guy with no injuries. If this was the case, then you could probably roll the dice on the Meredith injury. However, to have your top three receivers on the outside and three of your top four total receivers coming off of season ending injuries isn’t just borderline reckless, it’s certifiable roster mismanagement.
That, more than anything else is why Meredith is gone. They aren’t going to cut White and his guaranteed $5 Million salary. They also weren’t going to pay White and Meredith $5 Million each this season and pay Robinson what they’re paying him. Especially when you factor injuries into it. Since Meredith wasn’t guaranteed and White was, the decision was easy.
Kevin White casualty number three.
Forgivable Bears Fans?
So why then does Ryan Pace keep trying to count on Kevin White? Why hasn’t he given up on him and replaced him as many Bears fans feel he should? Well, there are two reasons. One, Pace (a former scout) still believes in his scouting report and believes that he was right. Two, Pace, and the Bears, still see White injuries as both accidental and incidental. That is to say, they don’t think that they will continue or stunt his growth going forward.
Now if Kevin White rebounds and becomes the Pro Bowl receiver that Pace still envisions that he can be, then most Bears fans will forgive and forget and drink deeply of the orange and blue kool-aid. I believe that is a genetic trait that is an unavoidable as the nose on your face.
However, if White suffers another season ending injury, or doesn’t develop his route running, then Pace’s pick will forever be judged by the talent of those who left the team because of him. That may not be completely fair, as Pace can’t control injuries, but hey, that’s the life of an NFL General Manager.
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