PHOENIX — Bears coach Matt Nagy says the rumors about running back Jordan Howard are true, but only to a certain extent.
“For us, I know there’s stuff floating out there with regard to the trade rumors [about Howard],” Nagy said Tuesday during the coaches breakfast at the NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.
“We’re always going to — with all of our guys — if there are rumors out there or there are people talking, [general manager Ryan Pace is] always going to see where we’re at, and if it’s something that we think is going to make our team better, we’ll entertain it.”
What “people talking” turns into for the Bears and Howard remains to be seen. The market for Howard isn’t too hot at this juncture in the offseason, especially after a 2018 season that included career lows in rushing yards (935) and average yards per carry (3.7).
At this point, it makes sense to hold on to Howard, who should be motivated entering the last year of his rookie contract.
Any major changes in the Bears’ backfield — i.e., Howard’s potential departure — could come during the draft in April.
After the owners meetings conclude Wednesday, the draft will become a priority for all teams — if it isn’t already — as pro days and private visits fill out their schedules.
The Bears are looking extensively at running backs this year, but it’s always difficult to predict how the draft — in any year — will play out.
“It’s still going to unfold,” Pace said during the league meetings. “I know the way Matt is. He likes that by-committee approach and using them in different ways, and you know how creative he can be on offense. And who knows what’s going to happen in the draft.”
Nagy, though, sounded encouraged by what he already has at running back after the free-agent acquisition of Mike Davis, who excelled last season primarily in a third-down role for the Seahawks.
Along with Howard and Tarik Cohen, Nagy has that blend of different backs that he covets.
“They all have different traits,” Nagy said. “Some of it’s protection. Some of it’s scatting out of the backfield. Some of it’s from empty [sets].
‘‘You just like to figure out what’s the best way to use them.’’
In Davis, Nagy has a back with the vision that he said he was looking for when he outlined his desired traits during the NFL Scouting Combine.
“He was in a position in Seattle where he didn’t have a lot of tread on his tires, not a lot of carries, shared some carries,” Nagy said. “I liked his vision. I thought he had really good vision. He was a guy that can make you miss between the tackles. He has that in him. We liked that. We thought that would be a good addition to our side of the ball on offense.
‘‘We’re intrigued to get him in and start learning who he is as a person. From all the research we did on him, we thought it was a great fit.”
The Bears’ research into backs in this year’s draft could result in another addition. But for now — with the draft a month away and more to learn — Nagy seems content with Howard, Cohen and Davis.
“For us, the running-back position right now is something that we think we’re in a good spot,” Nagy said. “But we definitely feel overall between the [offensive] linemen, the running backs and me calling plays, that we can be better in the run game.”