Bears

Where will Julius Peppers play in 2010?

The Panthers have decided not to place the franchise tag on Julius Peppers, which likely means his time in Carolina is over.

Its an interesting decision for the Panthers. As a team they totaled just 31 sacks this past season, 10.5 of which came from Peppers. In an era where teams are paying big money for elite pass rushers such as Peppers and Jared Allen, it makes you wonder what they think of Peppers off the field. Rumors have swirled that his work ethic and desire to succeed are lacking, and this decision certainly gives teams reason to look further into those claims.

So with that in mind, where could Peppers land this offseason. Here are the top five most likely destinations:

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers5. Jaguars
The Jaguars have to make a tough decision this offseason regarding 2008 1st and 2nd round picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. Both struggled immensely this past season and the Jags ranked dead last in the NFL with just 14 sacks. Popular opinion right now is that the Jaguars will target a defensive end in the draft, but adding a veteran like Peppers would be a much safer route to take.

4. Falcons
The Falcons may hesitate to add another aging lineman to pair with John Abraham, but their pass rush is in need of an upgrade. 2007 1st-round pick Jamaal Anderson has struggled to live up to expectations and the Falcons may be ready to move on. If the Falcons want to make a splash this offseason, stealing Peppers from a division rival would certainly be one way to make that happen.

3. Packers
If Peppers is prepared to make the transition to outside linebacker, Green Bay would be an ideal landing place. They’re likely parting ways with Aaron Kampman who struggled to transition from down-lineman to outside lineback in Dom Capers new 3-4 defense. Pepers may also have size to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense, but that would really be a waste of his pass-rush ability.

2. Patriots
The Patriots reportedly have a strong interest in Peppers. They desperately need to upgrade their pass rush, so the interest makes sense. However, I’m not sure he’s a great fit. Peppers appears to be a little oversized to stand up and play outside linebacker in the Patriots 3-4 scheme. I’m not sure he’s athletic enough to handle the coverage responsibilities that come with playing linebacker which he hasn’t encountered in Carolina.

1. Bears
This looks like the perfect match for both sides. The Bears have a veteran defense and they’re clearly taking a “win now” approach over the past few offseasons. Adewale Ogunleye is an unrestricted free agent and the Bears should jump at the chance replace him with Peppers.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Falcons, Free Agency, Jaguars, Packers, Panthers, Patriots 1 Comment

Bears Lining up Workouts Already

We usually don’t hear about teams bringing players in for workouts until after the combine, but the Bears are already setting their schedules.

The Bears have already lined up a workout with TCU OT Nic Richmond and South Dakota State DE Danny Batten. Both players appeared in the Texas vs The Nation all-star game and neither were invited to the combine.

Batten is the more highly regarded of the two and could come off the board as high as the 5th round. He’s an odd choice for the Bears, however. He doesn’t quite have the athleticism to play outside linebacker in their 4-3 defense, but is undersized for a down lineman.

As for Richmond, he has elite size (6’7″, 307) but lacks athleticism will be limited to right tackle in the pros which is the kiss of death for an offensive lineman’s draft stock. The least-coveted prospects are offensive lineman that are only capable of playing one position. It would be moderately surprising to hear his name called in April’s draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bears Comments Off

Mike Martz and his Impact on the Bears Draft

bearsCoordinators don’t often have a significant say on who their team drafts. But there are a select few that have the standing within their organization¬† to be heard on draft day. Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau are two that come to mind.

While there are certainly those that believe Mike Martz’s offensive genius is overrated, there is also little doubt that the Bears feel otherwise. He’s been hired to revive Jay Cutler’s career and, as a result, one would have to assume he’ll have a strong say in the offensive personnel decisions. And when it comes to the draft, that may be bad news for the Bears.

Here’s a look at Mike Martz’s offensive skill position draft selections since becoming the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999, when he presumably was high enough on the food chain to have the ear of Dick Vermeil, one of Martz’s most vocal supporters. Aside from the selections of Torry Holt, Steven Jackson and Calvin Johnson, the list reads like a who’s who of “who’s that?”

mike_martz_draftpicks

Martz certainly deserves credit for going 3 for 4 with the 1st-round picks. The Trung Canidate blunder is easily excused by the selection of Holt, Jackson and Johnson. However, the lack of contributors from the 2nd round and beyond is startling. His most productive non-1st-round pick has been Kevin Curtis, and that’s not saying much.

New England Patriots v St. Louis RamsI also included tight ends in this list of “skill position” players, to demonstrate a potential issue somewhat unrelated to the draft. Mike Martz prefers his tight ends to be an extension of the offensive line, which is bad news for Greg Olsen. Given the Bears current group of receivers, Martz would be foolish not to utilize his skill set, but his track record indicates that he won’t. It will be interesting to see how the Bears handle this. Trading Olsen (they could probably get a 2nd-round pick in return) would be a wise move if Martz isn’t interested in making him a focal point of the offense.

Ultimately the Bears may be just fine in the draft. GM Jerry Angelo still has the final say on all personnel decisions, and he has a strong track record in the draft. But I have to believe Angelo will lean towards siding with Martz on any decisions involving offensive skill positions. He brought in arguably the league’s most high-profile offensive coordinator for a reason and his opinion will be valued. For the sake of Bears fans, however, we urge Angelo to handle the draft on his own.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bears 1 Comment