5 Players the Chicago Bears Could Trade During 2013 NFL Season
Change used to be something NFL teams feared every year. Thanks to the augment of free agency and a cheaper draft, those same franchises have begun to embrace new annual rosters. That is why no player is ever truly safe from finding himself somewhere else. With the trade market figuring to take center stage as the season draws closer, who are five Chicago Bears that might find their name on the block before the week 8 deadline?
The Windy City Flyer has hovered on the edge of trade speculation for months, especially after announcing he might retire after Bears GM Phil Emery dismissed head coach Lovie Smith. Since then Hester has come to embrace the new coaching staff led by Marc Trestman, as well as his new role as the exclusive return man for Chicago. He is officially no longer a factor on offense. One might think this would torpedo his trade value, but in fact that might just save it. At age 30 he isn't over the hill and with his focus and energy devoted to what he does best, there is an excellent chance he revives his status as the best return man in the game. The key to his trade value will then be how good of a start he gets off to in 2013. If he posts a touchdown or two that could entice teams with woeful return games to take a risk on him.
Team that makes the most sense: Kansas City Chiefs
The rebuilding Chiefs have improved greatly since Andy Reid took over as head coach. However a big area of concern is their return game, where they ranked 31st a year ago. Trading for Hester would make sense not only for that, but for the fact their special teams coordinator is Dave Toub, the same man who Hester scored all 17 record-setting return touchdowns under.
Trading the best player on any unit always sounds crazy. Yet the circumstances for Peppers are different. He is the best pass rusher Chicago has, having reached three Pro Bowls in three seasons. At the same time he is becoming far too expensive. His contract already counts over $16 million against the salary cap this season, and will bump up to $17 million in 2014. Toss in the fact he's 33-years old and suffers from chronic plantar fasciitis in his foot and it creates too many headaches for the Bears to deal with. They may serve their cause better by sending the All-Pro to a pass rush needy team and saving the cap space.
Team that makes the most sense: San Diego Chargers
The Bolts were already thin in the pass rusher department when Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes left in free agency. It got worse in a big way when promising 2012 first round pick Melvin Ingram tore his ACL. This leaves them with few options. Peppers has experience in the 3-4 defense they play and could help stabilize their front immediately.
It only took taking a player every year in the draft under Lovie Smith to do it but it seems Chicago is actually deep at safety for once. Wright is among the best of the bunch, having played his best season to date in 2012. That said he is a free agent next year and still a lingering injury risk. If new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker doesn't like what he sees from the strong safety, the Bears could find some strong interest in him on the market. He did have 71 tackles and four interceptions last season while starting all 16 games.
Team that makes the most sense: Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis and the Bengals posted another excellent draft in adding playmakers to their still young offense. One area they didn't do enough with though was perhaps their biggest weakness at safety. Their only notable addition was third round pick Shawn Williams who wasn't put in the same class as the prospects who went earlier. That means they still need help on the back end. Wright is young and fits their scheme perfectly.
Despite the universal hate session continuing from Bears fans towards JWebb Nation the fact is he was the best tackle they had last season. He’s already started three years and is only 24. The truly sickening part is he may also be the most physically gifted. What he lacks, and has lacked since he got drafted, is the mental acuity to play the position. Breakdowns from him didn't come from injuries or getting overpowered. They were almost always mental lapses. Chicago coaches hope a move to right tackle where the pass rushers he’ll face won’t be as fierce as on the left will bring everything together. Barring that the Bears brought in loads of insurance if he fails. They still have veteran Jonathan Scott and added Kyle Long and Jordan Mills in the draft. Never mind that Gabe Carimi is still in the mix. Webb doesn't have near the job security he once did.
Team that makes the most sense: Pittsburgh Steelers
It seems to have become a running joke around the NFL. A new season, another year with major question marks about the Steelers offensive line. Ever since Ben Roethlisberger took over at quarterback the unit was never the best. However over the past couple years it has grown into a true problem. Big Ben has suffered a lot of hits and injuries. Having lost veteran Max Starks again to free agency, the team will lean on Marcus Gilbert to protect his blindside. Gilbert offers no guarantees of improvement, never mind an ability to stay healthy. Webb isn't an All-Pro solution, but he is experienced and tough enough to give Pittsburgh some stability.
Chicago paid a lot of money to bring in Bush so he could give Matt Forte some needed rest during games. Sadly he didn't live up to the expectations. He struggled to stay healthy and never really got on track under Mike Tice. With Trestman bringing the West Coast offense in it raises questions about if Bush is a natural fit. The scheme calls for the running back to be a ready threat in the passing game, something Bush wasn't much of last year. Throw in the fact it is a zone blocking scheme while he made his biggest plays in Oakland behind a power running game and it makes one wonder if the Bears are better served dealing him for some draft help next year.
Team that makes the most sense: St. Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher loves to use the ground game. He did it for years in Tennessee and has continued that process in St. Louis. The problem is his backfield doesn't look particularly strong at this point. Long-time workhorse Steven Jackson departed for Atlanta in free agency, leaving the ball in the hands of Daryl Richardson. Bush could come in and provide instant starter capability, allowing Richardson to fill his role as a speedy change-of-pace back.