You are referring to the Steelers having less than $2 million in cap room and their acquisition of offensive tackle Levi Brown on Wednesday from the Arizona Cardinals. For starters, the move really didn’t require that much additional space for Pittsburgh. I believe Brown carries a cap hit for this season of about $300,000 more than the man he replaced on the roster, Isaiah Green. So, the Steelers didn’t have to make moves to create the space.
If Bears general manager Phil Emery wanted to create more than the roughly $3 million in cap space the team currently has available following the addition of defensive tackle Landon Cohen last week, sure, it could happen. Contract negotiator Cliff Stein could move some numbers around in any number of contracts for other players to create as much cap space as the team wanted. But there is a price to be paid for that in the future.
Ask Brad Biggs about the BearsThe Tribune's Brad Biggs answers readers' questions about the Bears. Drop him a line.
- Bears should have opportunity in red zone
VOTE: Who wins on Sunday ... Bears or Saints?
But let’s not assume the Steelers made a great move here in acquiring Brown, a former No. 5 overall pick. Brown was struggling badly in Arizona, beat routinely by St. Louis’ Robert Quinn in the season opener and again in Week 3 at New Orleans. Brown signed a $30 million, five-year contract in 2012 and unless he turns his game around, the Steelers are not going to want to pay him the bulk of the money remaining in that contract. If the Cardinals were happy with Brown, they would not have put him on the market and you can assume if the Bears were targeting a high-profile player via a trade, the team dangling him wouldn’t be very happy with current production. It’s going to be difficult to find defensive line help in the trade market during the season. In other words, if Brown was playing like a first-round pick and a guy with a $30 million contract, he wouldn’t have been traded. Let’s not confuse activity with progress just yet.
I will not disagree with you that a dash of speed at the position would be a nice addition to the offense. But I view this as more of a “want” than a “need” at this point for the roster. Consider how far the Bears have come at the position in two years. I thought Marquise Goodwin, the Texas speedster who went to the Bills in the third round of the draft, would have been ideal and presented options on special teams as well. But the Bears were short on draft picks in April and you can’t argue there were more pressing needs. Adding a player like Jackson to the mix might upset the apple cart too. You’d have a lot of high-profile players jockeying for a top role in the offense and it would, in my opinion, require too much financial commitment to the position. Here are Jackson’s salary and cap figures, if traded, moving forward:
2013 base salary: $6.75 million, cap would whatever pro-rated base salary remained
2014 base salary: $10.25 million, $10.5 million cap
2015 base salary: $9.75 million, $10 million cap
2016 base salary: $8.25 million, $8.5 million cap
Brandon Marshall is due $9.1 million in 2014, the final year of his contract, and if the Bears imported a player like Jackson, surely Marshall would feel like he deserved more money pretty soon if not right away. I think most would agree Marshall provides more value than Jackson would. This isn’t realistic, in my opinion. It would also challenge general manager Phil Emery’s stated goals of building the organization through the draft.
Assuming Jay Cutler has a decent year and the Bears re-sign him, what would you expect the team to do with its first-round draft pick? Look for a pass rusher? -- @BPspeak from Twitter
It’s really premature to start projecting where general manager Phil Emery would go in the first round of the draft. There are a too many factors that we don’t know right now. First, where will the Bears be drafting? Second, what is the strength of the draft and what is the strength of the draft board in the area where they will be selecting? It wasn’t too difficult to make an educated guess the team would prioritize the offensive line in the 2013 draft during the 2012 season. But you didn’t know if players the Bears wanted would be available. Most figured the Bears would want a left tackle to replace J’Marcus Webb and we saw three of those come off the board with the first four picks leaving not a lot to select from when the Bears went on the clock at No. 20. Know this: Pass rushers are always coveted. It’s impossible to have too many of them and the Bears and every other team will always put a premium on collecting them. Certainly it will have to be a consideration. But the team also has two starting cornerbacks on the wrong side of 30 in the final year of their respective contracts. There will be multiple needs and plenty of time to hash out the possibilities.
What if a team like Jacksonville or Oakland would offer the Bears first- and second-round picks for Jay Cutler? Would you take it? -- @Benyaminr1 from Twitter
First, Phil Emery’s stated goal is to win now. This year, next year and every year after. So, I don’t see him going into Cubs-style teardown anytime soon where he looks to trade off parts with value year after year. He needs a quarterback. Now, let’s step back and analyze this from the other side of the equation. If you are the Jaguars -- right now a definite possibility for the No. 1 overall pick -- or the Raiders -- who should have a similarly high draft position -- would you consider trading your top two picks for Cutler? In the Jaguars’ case, you could be talking about pick Nos. 1 and 33. The Raiders are finally going to be exiting draft hell in 2014. They will finally have a better collection of draft picks after recovering from the disastrous trade for quarterback Carson Palmer made in 2011 and other short-sighted decisions. They’ve been dealing away picks for far too long. Why would a team trade for a quarterback coming out of contract, one that is now 30? The Jaguars and Raiders have rosters full of needs. When the Bears traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick as well as Kyle Orton for Cutler and a fifth-round draft pick, the belief at the time was Cutler was the missing link to a Super Bowl run. A quarterback isn’t the missing link for the Jaguars or Raiders. It would be the first part of the equation. I think you could also make a case that Cutler’s value now isn’t quite what it was when the Bears dealt for him on April 2, 2009.
How come the Bears won’t look at Anthony Adams? -- @JamesSiko from Twitter
Got a couple inquiries about him this week. Double A was a quality part of the rotation on the defensive line -- better than Lovie Smith’s coaching staff gave him credit for when he first arrived. He was also a terrific addition to the locker room. But Adams wasn’t the same player in 2011, his final season, that he had been before. He would not help the situation right now on the defensive line and he was a true nose tackle, not a penetrating tackle that the Bears are now missing following the season-ending injury for Henry Melton.
Washington, the sixth-round draft pick from Georgia, played on defense for the first time this season in the loss at Detroit. He got four snaps and had a missed arm tackle (although he was pursuing on the play) on Reggie Bush’s 37-yard touchdown run. I didn’t see a while lot from Washington in preseason. He could continue to be a part of the mix but his athleticism didn’t translate well from what I saw. If he makes strides in practice, sure, he could play a bigger role.
Perhaps it's a little premature but we can safely conclude that the defense hasn't looked like it has in years past? How much of this can we pin on Mel Tucker and his coaching? If Ron Rivera was available after this year, should the Bears make a push for him if Tucker doesn't work out? -- Alex Navarro from email