Forced to Ask What Could Have Been

The Chicago Bears need to ramp up their pass rush prior to next year, which was why the development of Gaines Adams was a priority. Sadly, that will now never happen. In a shocker, Adams died Sunday.

Since he didn't do much in a Bears uniform after being acquired at the trade deadline, some of the more cynical football fans in Chicago weren't expecting anything more from defensive end Gaines Adams next season.

But now, for all the wrong reasons, he won't be a part of the franchise's future at all.

As first reported by the Greenville News, Adams died Sunday morning in Greenwood, South Carolina. Reports published later Sunday confirmed he died of cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart. He was just 26 years of age.

Originally a first-round pick, No. 4 overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2007 NFL Draft, Adams was traded Oct. 17 to Chicago for a second rounder. The 6-5, 260-pound Adams appeared in 10 contests and recorded seven tackles, one forced fumble and one pass defensed. With Adewale Ogunleye due to be an unrestricted free agent and probably not going to return to the Windy City, Adams was slated to compete for a starting job in 2010.

Viewed by many experts as a bust during his time with Tampa Bay, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said that the former Clemson Tiger was acquired for down the road and not necessarily asked to produce at a high level right away.

"When we brought Gaines in here, it wasn't that we expected him to change our woes," Angelo told the team's official Web site Nov. 25. "We didn't have woes. We just wanted to add another quality player to the mix."

Rod Marinelli, considered by some to be the best defensive line coach in the history of the league, was looking forward to working with Adams and all that raw talent during the offseason.

"Athletically, I just like the movement and all those things," Marinelli said Dec. 7. "It's just the handling of our fundamentals, the discipline of our assignments are key."

DE Gaines Adams
Getty Images: Chris McGrath

Although he never got a chance to play with Adams because of a season-ending dislocated wrist he suffered in Week 1, linebacker and defensive captain Brian Urlacher was stunned when he heard the news.

"It's crazy," Urlacher said Sunday in the Chicago Tribune. "I didn't know him that well because he came in during the middle of the season. But I did know him. I still saw him every day when I went into work. It's just weird. I had a teammate die when I was in college. You just don't know how to handle it. It's just sad, man. It's a bad deal."

The Bears released a statement Sunday at 12:39 p.m. Central time:

"We are stunned and saddened by the news of Gaines' passing. Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

During an exclusive interview Oct. 21, just four days after he was dealt from the Bucs to the Bears, Adams told he wasn't concerned with living up to his lofty draft status and only wanted to be the best defensive end he could be.

"Well, it doesn't matter if I was the first pick, fourth pick, second-round pick – I love to play football," Adams said. "I want to be the best player possible that I can be. It doesn't matter what round I went in, what pick I went in. I just want to be a great football player when I'm done playing in this league."

Tragically, now we'll never know just how great Adams could have been.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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