Why Trading Greg Olsen Makes Sense

With coordinator Mike Martz in charge of Chicago's offense, it only makes sense for the Bears to trade Greg Olsen and potentially acquire a player at a position of true need.

Chicago Bears coordinator Mike Martz is a stubborn man. This we know.

Even with the possibility of his quarterback being put in the hospital for the rest of his life – the result of him getting absolutely annihilated by opposing rushers – it took a stern talking to from coach Lovie Smith before Martz changed his ways last year. In the beginning of the season, he continued calling for seven-step drops, thinking he once again was in charge of the The Greatest Show on Turf. When it became obvious Jay Cutler's health was at serious risk, Smith stepped in. It's assumed though, had Smith not forced Martz to run the ball more, he would have continued putting Cutler in harm's way.

Martz loves to throw the ball downfield. It's an obsession that has developed over his many years as a coach. It's not going to change. Bears fans often have a hard time accepting that philosophy, but the club's front office is obviously on board.

This is Martz's offense. All offensive personnel decisions will be made under his supervision. Only players who fit his scheme will be placed on the roster.

Accept that.


TE Greg Olsen
Scott Boehm/Getty

Take for example this year's fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle. The club already invested two first-round picks in the Cutler trade, used sixth-rounder last year on Dan LeFevour, and, even though Caleb Hanie showed he can run an offense, chose to use another draft pick on a fifth-round signal caller who figures to be third on the depth chart.

Tim Ruskell, the team's director of player personnel, came out after the pick and said Martz fell in love with Enderle and that's why he was put ahead of players that would have fit true positions of need.

Make no mistake about it, Martz is running this show.

Which is why it makes sense for the team to trade Greg Olsen. In Martz's offense, tight ends are used as blockers, not pass catchers. Even though Olsen was by far the most talented receiver on the team last year – one whose mere presence on the field creates mismatches for opposing defenses – his production dropped precipitously from the year before, when Ron Turner was calling the shots.

The system is the reason the Bears signed Brandon Manumaleuna, a blocking tight end, to an egregiously large contract last year. And it's the same reason the team today signed Matt Spaeth, he of a whopping nine catches last season, to replace the recently departed Manumaleuna.

It's a system that Martz will not stray away from, one he's brought with him to each of his stops as coordinator in the NFL and one that will stay in place for as long as he's running the show in Chicago.

Olsen doesn't fit that system.

He is as talented a tight end as there is in the NFL. He has wide-receiver speed, soft hands, and is significantly taller than the vast majority of linebackers and safeties in the league. When used properly, he can be a defense's worst nightmare – a player who can be the focal point of an offense. Yet under Martz, that will never happen.

We can debate until our faces turn blue whether this is an apt strategy. That isn't the point. The point is that Olsen doesn't have a place in Martz's system.

If the Bears keep him on the roster and Olsen again produces middling results, it will be the second year in a row his talents have been wasted on the field. Instead of basically just eating his contract, the team should look to find a player in trade who can help them fill a position of real need. That could come in the form of an offensive or defensive lineman, a linebacker or a wide receiver. Even a high draft pick would be good value.

Many teams would love to have a player of Olsen's talent eating up defenses down the seam, so he should command a substantial return. The team is wise in trying to capitalize on his potential now, instead of under-utilizing him for a second-straight season and further watering down his trade value.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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