Don’t Blame the Chicago Bears for a Wilson-Less 2021
The Chicago Bears did what any other franchise and its fans would do given the same enticement. Hopes were vamped up. Photoshops were concocted. Futures were dreamt.
And then the Bears signed Andy Dalton – a career-long pretty good quarterback.
Chicago was supposed to enter-to-win the Russell Wilson Sweepstakes. The application for the adventure was rudely denied. After that, Bears fan momentarily became a laughingstock via crushed visions of grandeur.
While that gotcha sentiment is the hallmark of social media on the backdrop of The Digital Age, savaging Bears loyalists for a job not-well-done is senseless. Chicago’s front office and its hungry fans were indeed stoked about the prospect of landing the NFL’s second-best quarterback – it just didn’t work out.
At least they were players in the conversation. 26 other NFL franchises – per Wilson’s shortlist of destinations – couldn’t get a seat at the table. The mere fact that the Bears were in Wilson’s orbit is more than 80% of the league’s teams can boast.
So, cut the Bears a break.
CHI Made Their Pitch
The Bears sprinkled their chips in the pot – and lost. This is pretty elementary stuff. General Manager Ryan Pace proffered his loftiest package for the 32-year-old Wilson, only to be denied and sent on the trail of Andy Dalton.
Per Pro Football Focus, Chicago’s offer was robust.
That ain’t nothin’. In reality, the acquisition of Wilson (or Deshaun Watson) will probably boil down to an absolutely biblical ransom. Think five 1st-Rounders as the opening bell. Would you give up that sort of capital for Wilson on your team? If the answer is yes – fair enough. A deal of this ilk would be unprecedented, but more are likely on the horizon as player empowerment reaches a pinnacle. The aforementioned Digital Age allows for a player to speak directly to people whereas, in decades past, the team was allotted the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. Watson wants out. Wilson might, too. Both have apt reasoning.
Chicago determined a sum of players and draft capital that it adjudicated as reasonable, made the phone call, and was denied. A team really can’t do much more.
Whichever team eventually slides five 1st-Rounders over to the Seattle Seahawks or Houston Texans for an All-Pro quarterback will be a grand experiment. That organization will scoff at long-term planning and the accumulation of assets all for an almighty crack at quarterback immortality. Is it worth it? We’ll find out.
Wilson would undoubtedly whisk the Bears to instantaneous relevance, but the backend of the deal is tumultuous. All eggs reside in the basket of one player, albeit a quasi-generational talent. Wilson comes close to guaranteeing a winning record each season, but folks forget how he started his career – on the backbone of a defense-first team. When those defensive personalities aged and scattered, the Seahawks became less feared – real quick.
Of course, Chicago always maintains an upper-echelon defense. A pairing of Wilson and the Bears storied defensive prowess would be delectable for Illinoisans. But a cost above the aforementioned PFF tweet is incredibly steep. Pace would essentially close his eyes, pray, and hope for the best.
Every NFL player – Wilson or not-Wilson – is a turn of the leg away from catastrophic injury. Tossing away the next five years of a 53-man team operation via draft picks is risky and foolhardy.
And that’s probably why the Bears didn’t offer north of the package in the PFF tweet.
Dalton May Not Be Final Puzzle Piece
All that is known at the moment: Andy Dalton will likely start the 2021 season as the Bears QB1. That is not scintillating, but it is not rotten. A season ago, that would have seemed like a fairly smart move for the Bears as Dalton could have sparred with Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job.
Yet, now it feels like a lame movie sequel. The Bears had Russell Wilson (even though they never actually did), so the Dalton outlook is bland.
It doesn’t have to be.
The Philadelphia Eagles won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles – who flat-out is only good sporadically. The Denver Broncos won a championship with an awful version of Peyton Manning.
Chicago can be in the mix – if the team builds out its roster around Dalton, rather than bellyaching that Wilson was “so close” to being the solution.
Or – Dalton might be the proverbial patch-over quarterback. Onlookers to this mini-fiasco have no idea if Pace will snag a rookie quarterback next month.
Further examination on the matter is necessary, and that will unfold in years, not months.