If it’s any consolation …The second half of the Bears’ season won’t officially kick off until next week, and already their postseason ambitions are on life support with a visit to Philadelphia Sunday either providing a potential defibrillation or, for all intents and purposes, the plug pull on the franchise’s centennial campaign.
It’s a real drag, no doubt, particularly in light of the Super Bowl aspirations with which this season began. But Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace still have an opportunity to prove that these aren’t the same old Bears, if not save their season after plummeting this week below a 5 percent likelihood of returning to the playoffs, according to Football Outsiders.
One week from today, Saturday Nov. 9, marks the deadline for the Bears to release veteran RB3 Mike Davis and potentially recoup their fourth-round compensatory draft pick in 2020 for the free-agent departure of Adrian Amos to the Green Bay Packers, according to Nick Korte, comp pick specialist at overthecap.com.
It’s been 10 years since the franchise last had a compensatory draft pick, rewarded annually to the teams that lose more compensatory free agents than they signed the previous offseason. And with it becoming increasingly clear that the 2020 campaign will also mark a decade since the Bears’ last playoff victory, well, their fans should hope that their team does everything in its power to ditch the first drought first.
The only three Bears who have played fewer snaps on offense this season than Davis’ 74 are Bradley Sowell — the converted swing tackle who has been cut more times than he’s dressed; TE3 Ben Braunecker, a solid special-teamer, like Sowell, deemed by his coaches as unable to help at the position most desperate for a boost; and utility interior OL Ted Larsen, who was bypassed by Rashaad Coward at right guard following Kyle Long’s season-ending IR trip.
Davis was the Bears’ first offseason signing, inking a two-year deal including $3 million guaranteed roughly six weeks before the Round 3 trade up for David Montgomery essentially replaced Davis before he put on a jersey. Suffice to say, his 11 carries for 25 yards and seven catches for 22 yards isn’t the return on investment Chicago envisioned. Hell, it’d be fair to say that Davis’ best contribution thus far as a Bear was in coaxing a 15-yard horse collar penalty vs. the Chargers last Sunday — and the Bears failed to capitalize as it was the infraction immediately preceding their embarrassing goal-to-go sequence ending in a 19-yard Eddy Pineiro field goal prior to getting booed off the field at halftime.
A failure to capitalize on the compensatory pick would be more egregious by the Bears.
Davis offers little on special teams — zero tackles on 42 snaps — and is averaging 2.3 yards per carry, his lowest since 2015. Meantime, Montgomery is coming off the best game of his young career, the kind of outing that should compel Nagy to continue re-calibrating the offense to make the top pick its centerpiece.
If depth is a real concern because of Montgomery’s violent running style — which obviously can’t be matched by Tarik Cohen — the Bears have two backs on their practice squad in seventh-round rookie Kerrith Whyte and first-year fan favorite Ryan Nall whose upside further downgrades Davis’ role.
In other words, blunt as can be, Davis is already a sunk cost.
And speaking of sunk costs, Mitch Trubisky. Replacing him this offseason is likely to include a veteran free-agent signing, but Pace has to know that the absence of any mid-round dart throws at the position during his first five seasons only compounded his Mitch botch.
In addition to the absence of a first-round pick in April, Pace’s third-rounder belongs to the New England Patriots (the compensation for moving up for Montgomery). That means the Bears surely could use an extra pick to kick off Day 3, the same way they’re currently slated to kick off Day 2 (Raiders’ second-rounder from Khalil Mack deal).
Mack’s cap charge also explodes from 11.9 million to $26.6 million next offseason, when Danny Trevathan is a free agent, Allen Robinson will be approaching a potential contract year and Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson are first eligible for new deals. On top of all that, the Bears constructed Mack’s contract with the expectation that they’d still be benefiting from Trubisky’s team-friendly rookie contract, not backed into a corner in desperate search of his replacement.
The Bears have a lot of needs suddenly, but few of them are more obvious than that fourth-round compensatory pick over Davis.
— Arthur Arkush