With his draft picks not working out, Bears GM Ryan Pace looking to free-agent veterans to save him
Pace’s young guys, the ones he drafted, have turned out to be duds at an alarming, uh, pace.
Go old, young man.
Maybe that’s the advice Bears general manager Ryan Pace (age 43) got from top brass, meaning someone in the McCaskey hierarchy. Maybe he got it from principal owner Virginia McCaskey (age 97) herself.
Pace’s young guys, the ones he drafted, have turned out to be duds at an alarming, uh, pace. So the obvious cover is to go after fellows such as 33-year-old tight end Jimmy Graham — who agreed to terms Monday and was Hall of Fame-great in, let’s see, 2014 — and pray the oldsters fill in the blanks.
The shift also would include veteran defensive end Robert Quinn, 29, who comes in from the Cowboys as outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, 27, goes out.
Floyd, you’ll recall, was Pace’s first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2016 draft. Critics worried back then that Floyd was too slender for his position (6-6, 240 pounds) and that he might never be a star pass rusher if he didn’t bulk up naturally.
The 2016 combine critique actually said this: ‘‘All thin everything. . . . Built like a wide receiver and needs to live in a team cafeteria and weight room.’’
Apparently, Floyd didn’t live in either of those places enough because his sack totals in four seasons with the Bears went down like a slide: seven, 4.5, four, three.
And at tight end?
In the second round of the 2017 draft, Pace selected Adam Shaheen out of unheard-of Division II Ashland (Ohio) College. There, he had lit up lesser foes to the tune of 129 receptions for 1,755 yards and 26 touchdowns.
He was called the ‘‘Most Mysterious Man’’ in the draft by one news outlet because he had entered college as a 205-pound basketball player at one school and came out as a 278-pound football player at another.
Pace seems to like mystery guys, reaches who might prove his genius mainly because he snatched them with everybody else watching in awe. And Shaheen’s production in three seasons with the Bears? A total of 26 catches for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Last fall, he caught nine passes for no touchdowns.
The word ‘‘dud’’ comes to mind. So welcome, Jimmy Graham, who can catch nine passes while dreaming in a hot tub, no matter how old he is.
But none of this touches on the real elephant in the room, regardless of age, and that would be quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is only 25.
Through no fault of his own, Trubisky was taken as the second player overall in the 2017 draft, a lofty position Pace had traded up to get to fool everyone else and take a quarterback who, though somewhat talented, had started only 13 college games. (And he won only eight of those.)
But let me restate what I said earlier. It’s possible Trubisky, a clear draft mistake, was a bit responsible for his high spot because he came out a year early to capitalize on what was perceived to be a down year for quarterback prospects. He clearly fooled Pace, who could have taken Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson with a later pick.
But, really, looking at it fairly, the mistake is on Pace. You want to make a sly killing, and the three-card monte dealer you’re gambling with fakes you out through sleight-of-hand and steals your cash.
Oops. Better learn, pal.
So the needy Bears must do something at quarterback because they have a defense that is solid (but might not be for long) and the time to win big with a decent offense is now.
Which brings us to aging quarterbacks. They’re all around, and the Bears have to pick one.
Tom Brady, who is a spry and handsome 42, apparently will end up with the Buccaneers after leaving the Patriots.
Nick Foles, 31, and Andy Dalton, 32, are floating about, and a lot of folks think Dalton and his flaming red top will be the Bears’ goal.
Cam Newton, 30 and wounded, is a free agent, too.
OK, fine. But think about it: Do great quarterbacks — in their prime — ever hit the open market? Why would they? Dalton started 13 games for the Bengals last season and went 2-11.
So you take old guys either by paying a lot of money or by getting battered goods with all their best performances behind them.
What this says is: Guess we screwed up on youth.