With almost zero shot of making the playoffs, the Bears (0-3) need to be active in advance of the NFL's Nov. 3 trade deadline.
Don't expect a fire sale. That's not how it usually works in professional football. But the Bears have a pair of high-profile offensive players to shop: Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery. Both are scheduled to be free agents after this season.
Forte, 29, became expendable the moment in January when general manager Ryan Pace rebuffed his request for a new contract. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Forte is an effective, all-purpose back who can carry the load on offense. Forte would be a welcome addition to any contender that suffers a key injury at running back prior to the deadline.
Unless the Bears are secretly intent on re-signing Forte, they have to explore all trade options.
That line of thinking extends to Jeffery, who missed the past two weeks with a hamstring injury. Jeffery is different than Forte. The 25-year-old former Pro Bowl wide receiver is entering the prime of his career.
Why listen to trade offers for him? Because there's no guarantee Jeffery wants to re-sign with the Bears in the offseason. He probably wants to test the market. Imagine Jeffery and Brandon Marshall reuniting in New York. You never know. Besides, Jeffery probably isn't a guy to slap with the franchise tag just to keep him around for another year.
Let's be clear: The Bears are rebuilding the roster. Under no circumstances can teams in the middle of a rebuild afford to overpay for a player in free agency. That throws the whole plan out of whack.
In theory, 2015 first-round pick Kevin White has the physical skills to play Jeffery's role next year. At tailback, the club invested a fourth-round pick in Jeremy Langford to replace Forte in the future. The Bears have protected themselves at both positions -- just as long as White can successfully recover from the stress fracture in his ankle.
The Bears should also gauge interest in Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett. Remember, the Bears engaged in trade talks with the Tennessee Titans regarding Cutler prior to the draft. The discussions went nowhere, reportedly because of Cutler's hefty contract, but he is definitely not untouchable. The same holds true with Bennett, who missed the offseason program due to a contract dispute. Bennett still wants new money from someone next year.
Everything needs to be on the table for the Bears.