ATLANTA–Time will tell, but it could prove to be one of the most productive scouting trips of general manager Jerry Angelo’s career.
He was headed to Tampa last week to scout the South Florida-Cincinnati game, and after some initial discussions with Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, who was groomed for a time under Angelo, they agreed to meet face-to-face. That is how the trade on Friday for defensive end Gaines Adams got done with the Bears shipping out their second-round draft pick in 2010 for the No. 4 pick in the 2007 draft.
Angelo understands that Adams, who will not be active for tonight’s game against the Falcons, is being labeled a bust in Tampa. They said the same thing about Cedric Benson, who he drafted fourth overall in 2005.
“I have seen situations like that,” he said. “You get a few position coaches and a scheme change, the fourth pick in the draft, big fish bowl not living up to expectations. Hey, I have been part of it. We’ve seen it. We feel very strongly about our scheme, we feel very strongly about our coaches, we feel very strongly about the way we evaluate players. We did all of our due diligence and we felt like we’re going to make this happen. There are risks to a draft pick, there is risk to this. I’m just hoping he is coming in here wanting to be a great player. If he is, I feel like we have all the tools to facilitate him coming to fruition.”
Angelo understands it probably didn’t make the guys already in the Bears defensive line room happy. Adams will join a rotation that right now is Alex Brown-Adewale Ogunleye-Mark Anderson. It’s not that he’s unhappy with any of those players, and, yes, Ogunleye and Anderson could both return next season.
“I’m sure I didn’t make any friends over this with the defensive line,” Angelo said. “But I like them all. I just feel like you can’t have enough of them. Unlike the offensive line, you play a lot of defensive linemen. We have a rotation. It’s a pretty good rotation. He is hopefully another player that is going to add to the mix. It starts with the front, you know that, both on the offensive and defensive lines. I just felt like the value of what he does was too great not to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I’m not anticipating us doing anything with anybody other than what they are already doing. We just got another guy to be in the mix. It’s a second-round draft pick. Does he have to be special? He doesn’t have to be special. He has to be a good rank-and-file player we can win with. His position, and I can’t minimize this, has tremendous value in our scheme. That had a lot of weight in our decision. These guys aren’t easy to find and when you get an opportunity to potentially get one, you act on it.”
Longterm, the Bears like having Adams under contract through 2012, but they are hoping he can provide a boost to the pass rush immediately. The defense has had to blitz increasingly over the last two seasons because the front four has not generated a steady pass rush on its own. That’s the first way Angelo evaluates lineman, too, can they get to the quarterback?
“When we look at defensive linemen, I’ve always said this, we look at third down first,” he said. “We don’t look at first down, we look at third down. How he impacts on third down. That’s the way we draft them, that’s the way we pay them. That will be as long as we’re here, that will be our posture.”
It’s the second big trade he has pulled off in less than seven months. So much for the draft driven thing, huh?
“We built this team every way you can build it, A to Z,” Angelo said. “We’ve built something that I feel is going to last. Anyway you can get a good player. In a way, he is a draft pick. He’s 26 years old, he’s still on his rookie contract and we used a draft pick to get him. I look at this guy like that.”