Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN NFL Nation Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright drops by to chat and answer all of your Bears questions.
Wright joined ESPNChicago.com in April 2010 after spending the previous four seasons covering the Jaguars. He also covered the Redskins for two seasons. A native Texan, Wright was a four-year football letterman at West Texas A&M University.
Send your questions now and join Wright Monday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:21 PM)
Hang on folks. I think Michael got tied up with something.
Buzzmaster (1:22 PM)
Hey folks. Mike will be here at 12:30 p.m. CT/1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions.
Tony (Mendota, IL )
Roll play! You're Phil Emery, you can get Michael Vick for a great price even veteran minimum, do you let McCown go and sign Vick?
Michael (1:32 PM)
That's a tough question. But as much as I like Michael Vick as a player, I'd keep McCown because for me, it's more about what McCown can do on the field. It's about how McCown works with Jay Cutler and the other guys in the locker room. Besides that, McCown has proven he can get it done when called upon. Also, he's got a year of experience in Marc Trestman's offense while Vick would be coming in cold. So give me McCown.
mario (eagle pass tex)
tell me your late because u were negotiating pepper's new contract/
Michael (1:33 PM)
Apologies for the lateness. I was actually working on a series that we'll put out just before the NFL Combine. Now, if I were negotiating Peppers' new contract, as his agent, I'd be trying to get him MORE money, not less. That would be my job, no?
What money do you think Peanut gets? What do you think the Bears are willing to spend on him?
Michael (1:35 PM)
Colin, I look at the Bears giving Tim Jennings $11.8 million guaranteed, and think it would be tough for Tillman to get even that from the Bears. My guess is the Bears would want to keep him down in the $2.5 million range on a one- or two-year deal. I see other teams being willing to pay Tillman more. So ultimately, it'll come down to what he's willing to take.
Mkila James chrone [via mobile]
Is Henry Melton going to be a bear next year? If so what is the success rate of players in his position coming off similar injuries?
Michael (1:41 PM)
I think Melton is going to be in for a rude awakening in 2014 after playing 2013 under that $8.45 million franchise tag figure. I'm not sure even a healthy Melton is worth that much per season. But it's tough to tell because we don't really know if he would've equaled or bettered his production from 2012, or if he would've just bottomed out. I think that's why the Bears franchised him in the first place. They wanted him to prove he was worth the money. So I'd say at this point it's about 50-50. I'm not sure about the success rate for athletes coming off torn ACLs. Some come right back from those injuries and are as good or better than they were before. Most, from my experience, struggle in that first year after the injury, but return to normal in Year 2. I think it comes down to how committed Melton has been to the rehabilitation process. If he's worked hard, it'll show in 2014.
Many mocks have had the Bears taking Timmy Jernigan. But, if the Bears switch to a 3-4 or hybrid defense, do you think Jernigan would still make sense as the pick?
Michael (1:42 PM)
Adam, I don't. I think Notre Dame's LNIII would be the better pick as an interior defender if the Bears switched to a 3-4.
Jim (New Hampshire)
Is moving Shea to OLB something the Bears will really look at doing? Is this just more fan/media wishful thinking?
Michael (1:43 PM)
Well, the team has said it's a possibility. But they haven't come out and said it's happening. My thought is they should just turn him into a situational pass rusher because in my opinion, he doesn't have the skillset to play OLB in the NFL.
Why do people bother with mock drafts until after the combine? I swear 99% of the mock drafts will look like a complete 180 a week prior to the draft.
Michael (1:44 PM)
The mock drafts change because during the time leading up to the draft, the agents, scouts and personnel people start to talk and reveal more as the process moves along. People do the mock drafts early because the readers want to read them.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
Will how Michael Sam is treated and drafted serve as the test case for closeted gay athletes in professional sports who are considering, or may consider, being open about their sexuality?
Michael (1:48 PM)
Aaron, your guess is as good as mine on that subject. For years we've read about closeted NFL players inching closer to opening up about that, but none have come out. Maybe Sam will make it easier for other athletes in all sports. I think it'll come down to how he's treated by teammates, the media and the fans.
It gets extremely frustrating when draft experts keep saying things like "this player fits into the Bears 1-gap scheme" Um...not sure what year they are talking about, because all signs are pointing to a significant scheme change. I wish people would talk about players that can fit into various schemes. We need versatility in a huge way. Who do you think best represents what we need on the D-Line? Either DE or DL. Thanks!
Michael (1:50 PM)
Sorry Jason, but one-gap, two-gap, it all matters and there aren't a ton of guys you could say fit both styles in terms of defensive linemen. If the Bears remain 4-3, I think Timmy Jernigan or Aaron Donald are good fits for what they do. If they go 3-4, then Nix would be the best fit. Now, if the Bears stayed 4-3, and used the DTs as run stuffers and not penetrators (this style works, too), then Nix might be a good fit.
Would you trade 2 first rounders and a second round pick to move up and get Clowney if he falls to say 5-6 area?
Michael (1:52 PM)
Nope. If I'm in rebuilding mode wanting to get younger on defense, I want more picks to do it as opposed to fewer. Clowney's a great player, but he's only one player.
T.J. [via mobile]
A lot of people talk like Hester is finished, but he still had solid averages & would have had a few more big returns it not for penalties. What % would you put on him returning?
Michael (1:54 PM)
I'm with you, T.J. Hester's base salary last season was $1.857 million, which isn't exactly break-the-bank money. I'd try to bring him back for something in the $1.5 million range. With Hester, I think it's a 50-50 type of deal. My guess is that Lovie Smith would try to bring him to Tampa.
Rich (Oak Lawn)
The Bears signed Cutler with the idea that their Super Bowl chances is now. So I would think don't resign the high priced defense players and rebuild the defense thru f/a. The Bears never get more than 1 starter thru the draft a year anyway.
Michael (1:56 PM)
Rich, that's not acceptable then, is it? That means Phil Emery needs to draft better. It's too hard to try to build through free agency, it costs too much, and isn't a sustainable way to build a team for the long haul. Most free agents gobbled up in the first wave of free agency are overpaid anyway. That's not the approach the Bears want to take.
Can you explain why the Bears failing to give McCown anything but the league minimum last year is preventing us from re-signing him?
Michael (1:59 PM)
Justin, it's not. The Bears can re-sign him as soon as free agency starts. Right now, they can exclusively negotiate. So there's nothing stopping the sides from agreeing to something now and actually signing the deal later. McCown's preference is to remain a Bear, and the only thing that may be able to lure him away aside from a lot more money, is the opportunity to earn a starting job.
Do you think for the long term it would be best to look into trading Briggs (call Lovie) and add a couple of picks to add depth?
Michael (2:00 PM)
Bill, you've got to have a partner my man. What if nobody is willing to give up a couple of picks for Briggs? Given his age and recent injury history, I wouldn't give up multiple picks for him.
Alex (El Paso)
Which players, other than Peppers, could get cut by the Bears to free up some more cap space?
Michael (2:04 PM)
Alex, there really aren't a lot of guys carrying huge cap numbers, which is why Peppers is always the guy people mention. Brandon Marshall counts $9.3 against the cap in 2014, and you're not cutting him. Matt Forte counts $7.9, and you're not cutting him. Michael Bush counts $3.8 million, and he could end up being a guy they decide to part ways with.
Bob (Princeton, NJ)
Mike, agree with your answers today. More on McCown, don't you think he'd be better off as an excellent backup than going somewhere as a starter and being exposed due to less talented players around him?
Michael (2:07 PM)
Absolutely, Bob, and I'm sure that's something McCown would strongly consider if an opportunity like that came along.
Dre Day (chiraq) [via mobile]
I think that Julius Peppers lack of production was large in part due to playing with a lack of talent around him. If you were the GM would you cut Pep or keep him for another year???
Michael (2:08 PM)
I'd ask him to restructure his deal and offer him a signing bonus that I could prorate first. Then, if he wasn't willing to do that, I'd strongly consider cutting him. But there aren't a lot of players willing to turn down a few million thrown in their face, even if they know it lessens their chance of returning the next season.
Martin Gleason (San Antonio)
What big move will emery make this year, because his first year he landed Brandon Marshall. Than the next he landed Bushrod and martellus Bennett with little cap room. So even though they have little room, some sort of move is on the horizon right, right?
Michael (2:10 PM)
It's definitely possible because the Bears hae that ability to convert a portion of Cutler's base salary into a signing bonus to free up more cap space.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Do the Bears have enough pieces surrounding Cutler to keep him upright this year and one the field? If not, what moves should they make to protect their multi-million dollar investment?
Michael (2:11 PM)
Charles, they've got what they need in place right now. But they definitely need to bring back Roberto Garza or find a suitable replacement. Garza is a free agent, and the team isn't inclined to pay him much more than the veteran minimum. At least that's the early indication I'm getting.
Michael (2:12 PM)
Folks, that's my time. I showed up a late, so I decided to stay a few minutes later. Anyway, thanks so much for coming by to chat. Make sure to send any questions on Twitter to me @mikecwright using the hashtag #bearsmailbag. See you next week.