Thursday, July 28, 2011
Greg Olsen trade: Bears valued scheme*
By Kevin Seifert
I'm not sure what else to add to our discussion about Thursday's wild events for the Chicago Bears' tight ends. Here is what had happened by the time the music stopped (or at least paused) Thursday evening:
- Greg Olsen had been traded to the Carolina Panthers for a draft pick and a player to be named, according to a Chicago Tribune report. *Update: The Bears announced they received only a draft pick, not a player, in the trade. The Tribune reports it is a third-rounder in 2012.
- Brandon Manumaleuna had been released.
- Veteran free agent Matt Spaeth has agreed to the terms of a deal.
Many of you would consider the Bears' true offensive problem to be at offensive line, not at tight end. Many of you would be right. But the tight end action was more about timing than priorities. I have to believe the Bears are hard at work on their offensive line and will have some results in the next day or so.
I'm not going to get too worked up about the Manumaleuna-Spaeth swap. The Bears wasted $6.1 million to sign Manumaleuna last year, but it came in an uncapped environment and didn't impact them in any way beyond the McCaskey family's bottom line.
On the other hand, the quick divorce with Olsen is a pretty obvious example of a team valuing scheme over skills.
It's fair to say that Olsen hasn't lived up to the expectations that go with being drafted in the first round. Did he ever get that chance? I'm not sure about that.
Two years ago, I suggested Olsen was the NFC North's next emerging star. He had developed an obvious chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler and seemed on the verge of breaking through as an annual Pro Bowl player.
He fell short in the 2009 season but still caught 60 passes and a career-high eight touchdowns in a season that ultimately led to the firing of offensive coordinator Ron Turner. His replacement, Mike Martz, either wasn't capable or willing to adjust his scheme to fit in the unique skills of a 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end who can outrun linebackers downfield.
I can only assume the Bears are committed to Martz for the long term. If that's the case, I guess it made sense to get some value for Olsen before he departed in a huff next season as a free agent. But in any other system, Olsen would have been valuable enough to offer a contract extension. A day ago, Olsen seemed to be a foundation player for the Bears. I assumed Martz spent the offseason finding more ways to get Olsen involved, not less.
Today, he is a member of what safety Chris Harris tweeted is a team known as the "Carolina Bears." The Panthers are now coached by former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.
Usually, you like to see NFL teams build their scheme around their players -- not the other way around. The Bears went against the grain. We'll see how it works for them.
Recent Bears posts: Today has been a soap opera for Bears tight ends. Why would the Bears part ways with Olsen? Adam Podlesh is the Bears' new punter. The team is working offensive line targets. Former punter Brad Maynard voiced surprising animosity toward well-respected special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. The Bears have a tough decision on a contract extension for tailback Matt Forte.