If the league suspends Johnson for any amount of games to start the year, he won't have to begin serving that suspension until the regular season is in full swing. It's inevitable that Johnson is going to miss some time in 2007, but assuming he gets out of jail in time, he should be in Bourbonnais for training camp and preparing with the rest of his teammates. He would then start his suspension before Week 1 of the regular season. No matter what ultimately happens, it's getting harder and harder for the Bears to count on this guy. Remember that he still has to face weapons charges, which could result in further punishment from the legal system and the NFL.
I'm curious what Jerry Angelo's mindset on Adewale Ogunleye is. Does he see him in the fold for next season, or are they actively shopping him or looking to release him? – Brian (Champaign, IL)
Although it's certainly possible that the Bears could release Ogunleye and his $3.9 million salary for 2007 around June 1, I don't think it's going to happen. If the Bears were serious about releasing him, they probably would have done it already. Trading him is even less likely because his production seems to be going down while his compensation only goes up in `08 and `09. Everyone knows that Mark Anderson played remarkably well as a rookie last year, but he still has a ways to go in terms of being a complete defensive end. His instincts for rushing the passer are fantastic, but Ogunleye is a better run defender at this point and should remain the starter.
If Lance Briggs does refuse to sign the franchise tender offer, at what point does the $7.2M in cap space that he is holding up become available to use on other players? - TexasBearsFan
It would be great if the Bears could spend the money set aside for Briggs on other players since he has threatened to hold out, but I'm afraid it's not that easy. If Briggs misses any portion of the regular season due to his holdout, he will forfeit about $450,000 for each game missed. That money would come off the Bears' salary cap figure, but not until each game is actually missed. If he does indeed sit out the entire 2007 campaign, the team would in fact be an extra $7.2 million under the cap. But that does very little good because cap savings can not be counted toward next season's number, so theoretically, it just gives the Bears more money to spend during 2007 should they bring in a player or two midseason.
Is the fact that Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone still remain unsigned an indication that neither one of them are very good anyway? - Charlie (Moultrie, GA)
Although neither Scott nor Boone is considered to be a priority free agent, the fact that they're still available doesn't necessarily mean they aren't quality players. Linebacker Cato June and safety Ken Hamlin remain unsigned, and both of those guys are pretty good. There tends to be waves in free agency. Hot prospects like Nate Clements and Eric Steinbach are signed to gigantic deals right away when teams are desperate to fill needs, but then things usually slow down as we get closer to the NFL Draft because teams can also plug holes with rookies. Scott and Boone are both apparently on the verge of signing with new teams, but it doesn't seem as if the Bears had any desire to bring either one of them back in the first place.
If you could be Jerry Angelo and make a trade on draft day, what would you do? - Stanley (Rosemont, IL)
As I have written before, the Bears already have eight selections in next month's draft and would be smarter to add as much value to the picks they already have as opposed to simply acquiring additional picks. I'm in favor of packaging the 31st and 37th overall selections they now have and doing what they can to move up and grab an impact player. According to the NFL draft pick value chart, the combined value of those 31st and 37th picks is roughly the equivalent of the 13th or 14th selection in Round 1. If that's the case, I'd make that move in order to go after Florida safety Reggie Nelson. That's hard for me to say being a Florida State alumnus and all, but pairing Nelson alongside Danieal Manning would take care of the safety position for the next several years and give the Monsters of the Midway unparalleled athleticism back there.
It looks like the Packers are going to trade for Randy Moss pretty soon. How do you think he'll do in Green Bay, and should the Bears be worried? - Jarred (Belvidere, IL)
The Green Bay front office has repeatedly said there is no truth to the rumor that a deal for Randy Moss is imminent, which, if you follow the NFL, probably means that a deal for Randy Moss is indeed imminent. We all remember just how incredible Moss was when the Bears faced him twice a year as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but the fact remains that he's not the same player as before. He's 30 years old now and not as explosive as he once was, plus he's only gone over 1,000 yards receiving once in the last three seasons. It's certainly plausible that he was just miserable in Oakland and didn't care anymore, and who knows, maybe catching passes from Brett Favre will reinvigorate one of the greatest natural athletes the game has ever seen. But I'd be very surprised if he instantly turned into a 1,500-yard receiver again.
If the Bears were to entertain a trade offer for Lance Briggs, what do you think he would be worth? – Lyndon (Silver City, NM)
As a franchise player, the collective bargaining agreement says that Briggs is worth two first-round draft picks should he sign with another team. We all know that franchise players are never signed in this fashion because two first-rounders is too much for any team to surrender no matter the player they covet. The fact that Briggs is threatening to hold out and claims he'll never play for the Bears again only diminishes his value and makes him more difficult to move. GM Jerry Angelo already has eight draft picks next month, so instead of swapping Briggs for a pick somewhere in Round 1, it would probably make more sense to package his pick at No. 31 or No. 37 along with Briggs for a fairly high first-rounder - similar to what he did in the Thomas Jones deal with the Jets. I don't know if that would be worth a top-10 pick, but somewhere in the middle of Round 1 could be a possibility.
Since the Lance Briggs situation has gotten so ugly, will it now be tougher for the Bears to negotiate with someone like Tommie Harris on a long-term deal? - Brandon (Sugarland, TX)
Although NFL players around the league certainly talk to each other in terms of their relationships with coaches and the attitudes of front offices, I don't think the Briggs situation will sour Harris necessarily. First of all, Harris is a very spiritual young man being the son of a minister. He has his priorities in order and knows that there is much more to life than football and money. The key is getting a deal done with Harris before he actually is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2008 season. It's going to take big-time dollars to do it since he's arguably the best defensive tackle in the league, but the Bears want to keep him around and have hopefully learned their lesson by going the franchise route with Briggs.
Justin Gage obviously won't be back, and I don't think anyone's going to miss him. But the Bears will need another receiver. Who might it be? - Dennis (Wheaton, IL)
You're right to assume that Gage will not be back because he simply never lived up to his potential despite tremendous physical tools. The Bears have four of their five receivers set for next season: Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, Rashied Davis, and Mark Bradley. Airese Currie will be coming back from injured reserve - stop me if you've heard that before - and practice-squaders Mike Hass and Brandon Rideau will most likely get a look in training camp. Nevertheless, I'd expect the Bears to select another wideout on the second day of the draft. It would be great to grab an impact receiver with a high pick in order to give quarterback Rex Grossman another weapon on the outside, but there are simply bigger holes to fill right now at safety, tight end, and along the offensive line.
Do you ever get tired of answering questions from readers? - Mark (Camanche, IA)
Not until that question right there.
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|