I won’t paint a picture of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in Bears uniforms. Of Brady picking apart NFC North defenses and of Gronk shedding tacklers like wrapping paper. That would be cruel.
But the Bears really could have used a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a future Hall of Fame tight end for the 2020 season. Or a good quarterback and a good tight end. Or a decent quarterback and …
Think of Brady-Gronk on offense and a Khalil Mack-led defense.
But I won’t paint that picture.
I do believe Chicago would have been able to stomach some Brady-conceived name changes around town. Bradyham Fountain. The Gisele, instead of the L. The 12 trail, rather than the 606.
OK, I’ll stop.
Brady and Gronk are back together again, this time in Tampa Bay … I mean Tompa Bay or Tampa Brady, two torturous labels the quarterback has come up with and wants trademarked. Trademarks are what you’re thinking about when you change teams?
If Bears general manager Ryan Pace had known Gronkowski was part of the equation, would he have pursued Brady harder this offseason? And by “harder’’ I mean “by actually picking up the phone and calling him?’’
I promised I’d stop.
The NFL Draft starts Thursday, and the Bears will be observers like the rest of us on Day 1 unless they trade into the first round. Their first-round pick belongs to the Raiders, part of the deal that brought Mack to the Bears in 2018. As it stands now, the Bears will have two second-round picks Friday in which to help improve a team that went a disappointing 8-8 last season.
New England traded Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round pick Tuesday, allowing the tight end to reunite with Brady, the long-time Patriot who signed with the Buccaneers earlier in the offseason.
Wait. You mean all it would have taken was a two-year, $50 million contract to sign Brady and a fourth-rounder to get Gronk? Sure, there’s reason to believe that the 42-year-old Brady wasn’t interested in the Bears and their flimsy offensive line. And maybe Gronkowski was looking for warm weather, not Chicago’s walk-in freezer.
As a consolation prize, Chicago will be watching Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky throw to tight end Jimmy Graham this season. Gronkowski retired after the 2018 season, and the Bucs have high hopes that the time off has done his battered body good. The Bears have high hopes that Graham, who will turn 34 during the season, won’t be in need of a walker in 2020.
OK, OK: What do the Bears need in the draft?
They need players who can run very fast and then catch the football. For all the abuse that Trubisky has taken, he had just one consistent target last season: Allen Robinson. A receiver has to be on the Bears’ radar in the second round. Has to be. Let’s try to forget that Pace used the seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft on West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, who never got past injuries in Chicago.
Penn State’s KJ Hamler, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool and USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. are intriguing possibilities for the second round.
Or Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet, who has been compared to Gronk.
You’d like a cornerback who can run fast and catch footballs thrown by the other team? Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, Virginia’s Bryce Hall and Ohio State’s Damon Arnette could be available.
It brings us back to the quarterback position, because this is Chicago and all roads lead to that sinkhole. Should the Bears draft a QB this week? Yes. They clearly don’t have the future on their roster right now. Should they use one of their second-round picks on a quarterback? No. To get back to the playoffs in 2020, they need players who can contribute right away.
But if a quarterback intrigues them, they should act on that impulse later in the draft. The payoff for landing a good quarterback in later rounds is huge. The cost is minimal.
If the Bears do decide to draft a quarterback, it would be great if Pace’s WiFi conveniently went out at the moment of truth and someone else had to do the drafting. You might remember that it was Pace who traded up to take Trubisky with the second overall pick of the 2017 draft. You might remember that time you stuck your head in a beehive, too. Pace should never be allowed to make a decision involving a quarterback and a draft pick again.
The Bears have a chance to make themselves better in the next few days, which means the discussion can thankfully shift away from a mediocre 2019. No more need to talk about what went wrong last season.
Soon, you’ll be able to sit back and imagine the Packers on their heels at Soldier Field. They’re stunned by Brady’s command of the Bears’ offense, unable to stop a galloping Gronk and ...
I said I wouldn’t do that anymore, but I couldn’t help myself. Resistance was futile. It was like trying to stop Mrs. O’Brady’s cow.