Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN NFL Nation Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright drops by to chat and answer all of your Bears questions.
Wright joined ESPNChicago.com in April 2010 after spending the previous four seasons covering the Jaguars. He also covered the Redskins for two seasons. A native Texan, Wright was a four-year football letterman at West Texas A&M University.
Send your questions now and join Wright Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:01 PM)
Hello everyone, thanks for coming in to chat. Just got back from the NFL combine in Indianapolis, and received a little bit of insight about where the club may be headed next. Let's talk about some of it here.
Brian, Albuquerque [via mobile]
If you're GM, whose your developmental QB of choice?
Michael (1:04 PM)
Brian, I'm not a GM. But I think there are lots of interesting developmental quarterback prospects. I like Aaron Murray of Georgia, but I'm probably most intrigued by Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas. Thomas definitely struggled with accuracy issues and inconsistency throughout his career. But his physical skillset is intriguing. He's 6-6, 260 pounds, but ran the fastest time of the quarterbacks at the combine (4.61), and had the highest vertical (35.5 inches). Given Marc Trestman's track record for developing quarterbacks, I think he could get the best out of a guy like Thomas. Now, to me, he's a big time boom-or-bust prospect. So I definitely wouldn't waste an early pick on him. When I say the Bears need to grab a developmental quarterback, I'm saying they need to draft someone no earlier than the third round.
Have you heard any free agency news at the combine?
Michael (1:07 PM)
Not a lot, Harry. But I do know the Bears haven't yet made an offer to backup quarterback Josh McCown, and they also met at the combine with representatives for defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, which says to me they're interested in bringing him back. The Bears are also interested in bringing back Kelvin Hayden because they're looking to add competition at that nickel spot for Isaiah Frey.
Joe (West Town)
Of these 3 guys, who do you think the Bears will resign? Melton, Ratliff & Collins?
Michael (1:07 PM)
I think they're most interested in Melton and Ratliff, but it's going to come down to competition from other teams on the free agent market.
What are your thoughts on moving McClellan to LB? It seemed likely the Bears were going D-Line in the first round but this may make it official.
Michael (1:12 PM)
Matt, even if they didn't move McClellin to linebacker, I think they would've used the No. 14 pick on a defensive lineman. I suspect the Bears are looking to move back and possibly get an extra pick based on general manager Phil Emery mentioning multiple times how many offensive playmakers would be available at 14. I'm still a little skeptical of McClellin moving to linebacker. He's going to compete with Jonathan Bostic at the Sam spot, and also compete to play some Mike. But in my mind, there's no way McClellin can beat out Bostic at either of those spots. Now, McClellin will be moving back to a role he's more familiar with from his days at Boise State. So that should make things easier for him. But he hasn't done it on the NFL level, and as you know, that's totally different. I won't cast any judgment right now. Let's just wait and see how McClellin does. I'd like to see him pan out because he's an exceptionally good kid.
Is Donald a good fit at 3-tech or a great fit? He could shift to DE on passing downs too.
Michael (1:13 PM)
If you're talking about Aaron Donald from Pitt, shoot, I'd love him as a three-technique. The guy ran an unofficial 4.65 the other day at the NFL combine. That's crazy fast for an interior defender. He'd wreak havoc.
Shane (Robins AFB, GA)
Mr. Wright, as I see it, the Bears have about 10.7 million in cap space after the increases. Looking at their top 10 cap hits, I think they should consider cutting Juluis Peppers ($18.2M cap hit/$8.4 dead money hit/$9.8M). Are there any other big names you see as cap casualties for the Bears? In my opinion, the other players in their top 10 either are cost prohibitive to cut (too big of a cap hit) or are perfroming to or above their contracts.
Michael (1:17 PM)
Shane, we don't know yet what the increases are. We've only heard projections. So nothing is official yet. Now, my guess is the Bears will probably be letting Peppers go with the post June 1 designation, and that would result in respective savings of $14 million and $16.5 million over the next two years. I've heard from some folks that Peppers gave only about seven or eight good snaps per game, which is not enough production considering what the Bears are paying. The fact that was even mentioned led me to believe Peppers likely won't be a Bear in 2014. The only other guy I could see as a possible casualty is backup running back Michael Bush.
With Wilson emerging, can the Bears cut Earl Bennett and use his $$ on defense?
Michael (1:20 PM)
Mike, hate to say it, but I could see that happening. Wilson is down in Florida at this very moment with Brandon Marshall prepping for next season, and the Bears see a ton of potential in him. Bennett has been through injuries, and missed time last year to deal with a family emergency. But I still like Bennett as a player, and you can't deny his chemistry with former college teammate Jay Cutler.
Teams generally don't pay top dollars to safeties, but considering the Bears problem at the position, is it conceivable that they either A) draft Pryor or Dix at #14 or B) pay for a guy like TJ Ward?
Michael (1:21 PM)
Paul, I think your first scenario is more likely than the second.
Don (Lindenhurst, IL)
I say if the Jets want to overpay for McCown let them, sign a veteran to back-up this season and if their is a QB they like in later rounds take a flyer and draft him to be groomed.
Michael (1:24 PM)
The only problem I'd have with that is I'd hate to let a guy go when he's got so much familiarity with what the Bears are doing offensively. If you bring in a new veteran, he's got to learn the system and you don't really know if you'll be able to trust him if Cutler goes down. McCown, meanwhile, proved himself last year. Also, McCown gives you a lot behind the scenes in his working with Cutler and some of the younger players. Like you, I definitely think they should consider drafting a quarterback late, but only if he's the right guy.
Ryan (NC) [via mobile]
MCW - I've seen several mocks that have the bears taking the Alabama safety in the first round. Is this years safety class deep enough where they can go DL in the first round and still get a starter at safety later on?
Michael (1:28 PM)
It's possible, Ryan. The Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois is projected to go in the second round, but he's considered more of a strong safety, which is what Chicago might need if they don't bring back Major Wright. And you've got guys like Stanford's Ed Reynolds, Florida State's Terrence Brooks and Southern Cal's Dion Bailey who may be capable of starting as rookies.
If Josh McCown ends up signing with another team during the FA period. How early could you see the Bears drafting a QB in April? Or would you suspect the team to look towards other available back-up QBs in free agency?
Michael (1:30 PM)
If the Bears lose McCown, I could see them trying to bring back Jordan Palmer as Cutler's backup. Now remember, the draft has been moved from April to May. I don't see the Bears using a pick early on a quarterback. They'd do it after Round 3 and it would have to be the right guy. They won't draft a quarterback just for the sake of doing so with so many other needs on defense.
So with the Bears on the "list" for Hard Knocks, do you see HBO choosing them this summer? How would you feel about it if they were?
Michael (1:33 PM)
I could definitely see that happening Rob, and the Bears could wind up being forced to do it, too because of the rule passed recently by the owners. I probably wouldn't mind HBO doing the series at all. It would definitely give us more insight into how the Bears do things. They're super secretive. So it would be nice to see HBO uncover some things.
Michael (1:34 PM)
Guys, that's my time. But as usual, you guys sent great questions. See you same time next week, hopefully.