The division champion Bears are in “Win Now” mode, and they needed to stay true to that in this draft. It’s more critical than ever to follow-up last year’s strong run with a successful dip into the “best way to acquire value talent”: The Draft.
Mack’s Cap Implications
It’s been pretty well documented that the Bears will have big cap issues in a few years. I’ve said this multiple times: Trading for Khalil is getting a great player at the cost of draft picks AND a huge contract. Mack had a cap hit of 13.8 million last year(still on rookie deal) and it will be only 11.9 million in 2019. That sounds GREAT. However, it was a 6 year extension and the next 5 years (after the 11.9 last year) are 26.6, 26.6, 26.1, 25.5, and 23.2. That also means he’ll be 34 when he’s looking for a new contract. After the two years at 26.6 million, they do have an out for 12 million in dead cap. They basically have a hall of fame caliber player in a 2 year cap friendly window, and one of those years has already been used.
Trubisky’s Cap Implications
The Bears moved up to get Trubisky as he is their franchise QB. People wanted the Packers to get Mack but the contract side of that would have been very difficult to have the highest paid offensive and defensive players of all time … AT THE SAME TIME. The Bears could make it work because Trubisky is on a rookie contract. His cap hit was 6.6 last year, and it’s 7.9 this year. Next year it’s 9.2, and then he’s a free agent. Even if they do a fifth year option, they are going to have to start paying a starting quarterback salary soon, and that’s really going to be difficult with Mack’s contract.
Receiver Cap Implications
For the receivers, they have 2 free agent contracts to deal with. Allen Robinson’s contract last year was 11.8, but it jumps to 15 this year. That’s the highest hit the Bears have this year. They can cut him after this year before another 15 million again in 2020. Taylor Gabriel’s next 3 years are more affordable at 6.5, 6.5, and 7.5. To contrast the value of having rookies under contract Anthony Miller’s hit is 1.2 this year, 1.5 next, and 1.7 the next.
More Cap Numbers
Kyle Fuller was a cap hit of only 6.5 million last year. This year that jumps to 13.5, and then it’s 17.5 and 18.5 over the next 2. Akiem Hicks is their next most impactful cap hit. He was 9.6 last year (solid value) and is 10.1 this year, 11.8 next, and 12 after that. Amukamara was 7.5 last year and is 9.5 this year and 10 next year. Charles Leno was 5.9 last year and jumps to 8.9 this year and next, and then to 9.9 the year after.
What they Needed in this Draft
Before the cap explodes, the goal the Bears need to focus on is: WIN NOW. They needed to attack the draft knowing that the window is closing quickly. Their best window is this year, and still an option next year when Mack’s contract is 26.6 but Trubisky is still only 9.2 million. The problem that both years have is that teams are bringing in a lot of draft talent over this year and next year, and the Bears don’t have the draft capital. This is going to further the talent divide that will be occurring and will make it harder to win in future years that it is right now. The Bears currently have a great roster, and they need just enough to push them over before being stuck with high contracts and very little draft impact to help them.
Pick 1: RB David Montgomery (Round 3 – #73 overall)
This is exactly the player that Chicago needed. They had to move up to get him, but he’s worth it. I’m a big fan of the impact that rookie running backs can have on a team. They got rid of Jordan Howard and I don’t think it’s a good fit for Tarik Cohen to be your every down back. Cohen shines as the change of pace and they needed someone to take the bulk of the carries. Montgomery is a perfect fit. He is a capable 3 down back and fits Nagy’s offensive system nicely. Over the course of the draft season this year, I’ve seen multiple places rank him as the #1 back, especially before Josh Jacobs started to rise up boards. He can carry a load, pass protect, catch out of the backfield (71 receptions in college), and he stays balanced through contact. He does seem to lack some vision though as he can run into his blockers. Overall, getting a player this good in round 3 is great value, and it’s a great fit at a position of need on a “win now mode” team.
Pick 2: WR Riley Ridley (Round 4 – #126 overall)
I think this picks also fits in with the “win now mode” mentality. The Bears already have their top 3 receivers set, and need someone to compliment what they have…. and do it this year. That’s exactly what they get with Ridley. He’s not fast, but as a 4th option, he’ll bring the needed element of HANDS. The guy has natural hands, works for the ball, and takes it from the air. He may never be a #1 target, but he can definitely be a solid NFL receiver. Getting this in the 4th round is tremendous value, and perhaps should be classified as a steal.
Pick 3: CB Duke Shelley (Round 6 – #205 overall)
Kyle Fuller hasn’t missed a game in his 4 seasons in the pros. Prince Amukamara is also generally healthy and only missed 1 game last year. The health of these two is important because they don’t really have any depth at this position. They needed help at corner BADLY. Shelly is only 5’9”, and isn’t a great tackler. On the plus side he has ball skills, plays the run aggressively, and he can really cover and close. He does have some health concerns too as he missed the last 5 games of last season. This late in the draft though, you can’t ask for much more than taking a chance on an undersized guy that can really cover when healthy.
Pick 4: RB Kerrith Whyte (Round 6 – #222 overall)
Back to the well again on a position of need. Whyte is a speed guy. He ran 4.37 at his pro day and got a second-team All-Conference USA nod as a kick returner. Even though he was a backup in college, he was backing up one of the best backs in the country. When he got his shot, he was a great for both running and catching. He’ll get a shot as a returner and to provide depth at RB.
Pick 5: CB Stephen Denmark (Round 7 – #238 overall)
Back to the well again on a position of need. This time, instead of the undersized guy that can cover, they went to the giant with great athleticism. Denmark is 6’3” 220 lbs, ran a 4.46 40, and had an amazing 43 inch vert! He’s a wide receiver convert and is still a project. He may never touch the field in a real game, but this is the type of project you take at the end of the draft to keep your talent pipeline flowing.
Undrafted Free Agents
WR Emanual Hall not being drafted is very unexpected. If healthy, he can be an impact. TE Dax Raymond could also have been drafted and I expect him to be on the team in 2019. OL Alex Bars has a legitimate shot at making the team too. DE Chuck Harris and DE Mathieu Betts both have a shot to provide depth on defense. They even brought in a kicker in the post-Parker fallout. They did very well with this class of free agents.
Overall, I think the Bears couldn’t do much more with the limited draft potential they had. If you include Mack and Anthony Miller into the results of this draft, it looks great. I think they matched win now mode with their first 2 picks, addressed needed backups with the next 2, and took a project with the last pick. That’s a great plan.
Check out Packers Draft Central for all our 2019 NFL Draft coverage!