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 1 p.m. ET!
Michael (12:59 PM)
Hello everyone. Thanks for taking the time to join me to chat about the Chicago Bears. Let's get started.
Have you heard anything about movement on the Julius Pepper's contract situation? I personally think that he'd make more money playing for the bears this year even with taking a pay cut than to be cut outright and getting a deal on the market.
Michael (1:02 PM)
Haven't heard a word yet, Jason. But I definitely agree with your assessment of this situation. Obviously, Peppers' salary makes it basically impossible to trade him, and if the Bears decided to cut him, I highly doubt he'd be in for a huge pay day on the open market. Taking a paycut, in my opinion, would probably be the best outcome for Peppers. But I've seen lots of times where guys get their feelings hurt by such situations and wind up going somewhere else for less money. The Bears definitely aren't showing their hand as to what the plan is for him. But it's logical to think they'd ask him to take some type of a paycut in a restructure.
Hi Michael. We all know the Bears need just about everything on defense. That said, if a 6'5" wide receiver like Mike Evans is on the board when the Bears pick in the first round, do they take him?
Michael (1:03 PM)
Jack, I don't think so. Some GMs like to take the best available player. But based on past drafts, Phil Emery seems to like to match up need with best available player. So my guess would be they'd go with a defender with that first-round pick.
Hey Michael! I understand that building a defense requires success through free agency, the draft, and player development. With so many holes in our D today, do you think Phil Emery is capable of a complete turnaround in one off season. We have obvious needs in the D-Line and Secondary.
Michael (1:07 PM)
Sebastian, I think he's got to do it exactly the way you described. But I do think it's possible. I don't see the Bears becoming the league's No. 1 defense in 2014. But they don't have to do that. They've just got to hold opponents to fewer points than they score, which in the past, would've seemed like a piece of cake. Since 2004, the Bears are 50-13 when they allow 17 points or fewer and 39-58 when they allow 18-plus. What's interesting is that in 2012, the Bears never scored more than 17 points in all 6 of their losses. Last season, the Bears scored 17 or more in all but one loss. So it's clear the offense is on the right track. The defense doesn't need a complete turnaround in my opinion. They've just got to get somewhere towards the middle of the pack.
Will Trestman be attending the Combine?
Michael (1:08 PM)
Dan, he'll be there as will Phil Emery. They'll address the media on Thursday morning.
Michael M in Las Vegas [via mobile]
When do you anticipate the Bears to make any moves...i.e making cap room, etc.?
Michael (1:09 PM)
The key date is March 11. That's when all clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap before 3 p.m. CST.
texas [via mobile]
I been hearing rumors that robert garza is retiring. If thats true who will the Bears use to replace him on their current roster? Or will they try to pick someone up in yhe draft?
Michael (1:19 PM)
Sorry it took a minute. Had some technical difficulty. I haven't heard anything about Garza wanting to retire. In fact, I've heard he wants to play in 2014, but the problem is the Bears, at this point, don't seem to be inclined to pay more than a veteran minimum type of deal. The Bears listed Taylor Boggs as Garza's backup last season, and he's an exclusive-rights free agent. The Bears also worked veteran Eben Britton at center during camp last year, but he's also an unrestricted free agent. So even if the Bears bring back Garza, they've still got a need at that position they'll have to address at some point. Garza was the only starter from the 2012 team to come back for a 2013 squad with four new starters up front. I think Garza is huge for the group's continuity. So to me, the center position is just as pressing a need as some of those spots along the defensive line.
HEY BIG MIKE COULD YOU SEE PHIL EMERY TRADING NEXT YEARS 1ST RD PICK IN THIS DRAFT IF ANOTHER PLAYER THAT HE REALLY LIKES IS ON THE BOARD AFTER THE 14TH PICK
Michael (1:20 PM)
Kenny, I could definitely see that, especially if it's a trade that would allow the Bears to gain additional picks.
Octavio Duran (Chicago)
Do you think -given cap space- the Bears will make huge moves in free agency? I was looking at highlights of TJ Ward and have to say he moves like Mike Brown did in his height. Any chance TJ could be a bear?
Michael (1:24 PM)
I could see the Bears making moves if they clear up a little space by reworking Peppers' deal and converting Jay Cutler's base salary into signing bonus. But I don't see the Bears spending big at the safety position. There are too many needs at other spots to justify doing it, and the Bears could opt for cheaper options at that position and still get desirable results. I've said it in the past, and some don't agree, but the Bears haven't shown any evidence that they're willing to spend big at the safety position. That's not unique to the Bears. Most teams try to keep costs down at the safety position. That's part of the reason the Bears always seem to be drafting at that position, and why when the few good players they draft at safety hit free agency, they've typically let them walk.
charles moosman (slc ut)
I dont know where you get your salary cap figures, but the Bears have over 6 mil in cap room.
Michael (1:29 PM)
I don't know what the cap is for 2014. There's only projected figures. But as of right now, the Bears have $121,547,001 devoted to salary with a carryover of $746,727 from the previous year.
There is alot of interest in McCown here in tampa and elsewhere. Any chance he stay's in chicago where I want him to stay.
Michael (1:30 PM)
Jurgen, McCown wants to stay. I think he's committed to returning to Chicago in 2014 if the sides can work out the numbers. The only thing that would possibly sway McCown's decision is the opportunity to win a starting job.
If a player is signed on a vet minimum deal, does he still count against the cap?
Michael (1:31 PM)
Yes, Dan, he does.
Hey Mike, I know the Bears still have some free agents on defense. Even though the defense was terrible, I still think some of the guys should be brought back like D.J Williams, Bowman, Wootton, and Ratliff. What do you think?
Michael (1:31 PM)
I agree with every one of those guys, but I'd also include Kelvin Hayden. I'm sort of on the fence about Henry Melton though.
Michael (1:32 PM)
Guys, sorry to cut off the questions. But that's my time. I appreciate you coming by to chat. For you local folks, stay warm and be safet in this nasty weather.