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The Bears should trade Mitchell Trubisky, Allen Robinson, and Leonard Floyd

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Los Angeles Chargers v Chicago Bears Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Cap Casualty series continues as fast as I can pump them out. Can I really review all 31 other teams before players start getting cut?! We’ll find out! I’m starting with the teams that have the most work to do though, so they should get shorter as time goes on. I hope.

Read: The Vikings might need to trade Kirk Cousins

Read: The Steelers could struggle to keep the band together

Read: The Jaguars have the most cuts to make

Read: The Falcons may have to part with Desmond Trufant and/or Keanu Neal

Chicago Bears

Effective 2020 Cap Space: $5 million

Most savings: Leonard Floyd, $13.2 million

Amid rumors of what could be the most active QB carousel in NFL history, there’s not been much talk this offseason about whether or not the Bears would be shopping Mitchell Trubisky. Maybe it’s because Trubisky does not have a sterling reputation as a starting quarterback, maybe it’s because he could be more valuable to Chicago than to another team, but if the Bears believed they had a Super Bowl window that was only as large as 2020, then they may have to start a new quarterback next season.

And in that case Trubisky may only be a distraction.

Chicago has just $5 million in cap room but they do have a number of expensive players who look like easy decisions to part ways with and few outgoing free agents of note. That means that they won’t be forced to move Trubisky for cap reasons necessarily, but putting him on the block and listening to offers wouldn’t hurt. Should Matt Nagy want to start Philip Rivers next season, Trubisky’s days would be as good as finished anyway and the Bears would have a little more room to improve the rest of the team.

Kyle Long, G, $9.6 million cap hit, $8.1 million saved

For awhile, Long was maybe Chicago’s best player. He has since missed eight games, six games, eight games, and 12 games over the last four seasons. Long announced his retirement in January, which will save them $8.1 million immediately.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, $9.2 million cap hit, $4.4 million saved if traded

The Bears can’t save anything by releasing Trubisky, who has a $2.2 million roster bonus this year, but they could move his $4.4 million base salary and take that off of the books. Trubisky posted relatively solid numbers as a 24-year-old in 2018, but in what ways does his game seem to extend beyond playing well when he dumps off 90-100 passes to Tarik Cohen? Those passes weren’t as successful in 2019 and Trubisky was worthy of hitting the bench, were Chicago to have a single other option besides Chase Daniel.

He hasn’t elevated the games of Allen Robinson or Anthony Miller. He won’t win you a game when you’re down four points in the fourth quarter. He would be in such rare company to play at this level for three seasons and then suddenly become productive in the same environment. Over the final seven games, Trubisky had 6.3 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a passer rating of 81.

Odds of departure: Low, because GMs are usually too risk averse to quit on players they once viewed as franchise quarterbacks. That being said, if GM Ryan Pace did put Trubisky on the block, another team would see a 26-year-old with 41 starts under his belt and a $4.4 million price tag and think, “This is the best backup in the NFL and maybe the next Ryan Tannehill.” If Trubisky is on the block, I think he could return a fourth round pick.
Would he help the Chargers: In a world where Rivers is gone (maybe on the Bears) and LA has no other options besides Tyrod Taylor, maybe Trubisky is a worthy adversary in the QB competition in training camp. That would require a trade though and that’s unlikely. They could also do just as well to draft a QB in that round and maybe come away with a better value than Trubisky, who has one year left assuming his fifth-year option isn’t picked up.

Leonard Floyd, OLB, $13.2 million cap hit, $13.2 million saved

Pace remains outwardly confident in Chicago’s ninth overall pick from the 2016 draft despite the fact that Floyd was supposedly going to be a great pass rusher and yet he’s only averaging four sacks per season over the last three years. The Bears paid an astronomical price for Khalil Mack in order to open up the defense’s opportunities and yet they had just 32 sacks as a team last year.

When Chicago was really good in 2018, they had 50 sacks. A team with Mack, Floyd, Roquan Smith — it was an unbelievable amount of investment into the linebacker position and the results have been remarkably underwhelming, even if the Bears defense was still pretty good.

“We’re happy with Leonard Floyd,” said Pace at the end of the year. Is he $13.2 million worth of happy?

Odds of departure: I think those are pretty good odds. Floyd is on the non-guaranteed fifth-year option and I think Pace’s comments might be more along the lines of, “We like Floyd. We want him to stay. We hope he accepts a reduced offer.” They may want to see if they can keep him around at a reduced cost with the incentive that they’ll take care of him like the Dolphins did with Devante Parker, an underwhelming receiver who finally broke out in year five and got an extension. But I think Floyd’s in danger of being released or traded.
Would he help the Chargers: You could make the case for sticking him opposite of Melvin Ingram and then hoping he blossoms into the guy who lets you replace Ingram in 2021. Just remember that Floyd isn’t being released or traded in either case because his team was happy with how he performed.

Allen Robinson, WR, $15 million cap hit, $13 million saved

Robinson somewhat miraculously cashed in with the Bears in 2018 after he missed virtually all of 2017 with the Jaguars. He was slow on the uptake in his first year but had 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. That’s fairly good, especially when playing for Matt Nagy and with Mitchell Trubisky, but is it actually great within the context of the modern game?

Robinson averaged only 7.4 yards per target, a mark that ranked 83rd overall and tied him with Larry Fitzgerald, Diontae Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, and Willie Snead. He was 14th in yards and it took him 154 targets to get there. His 63.3% catch rate ranked 125th.

Robinson’s numbers in a 2005 NFL would be outstanding. In the modern game, I find it very hard to justify Robinson as the eighth-highest paid wide receiver of 2020.

Odds of departure: Me, personally, I think I’d have to move on from Trubisky and Robinson, using the saved money to rebuild that part of the team in any way possible. Chicago still doesn’t have a first round pick this year because of the Mack trade but this is one of the best receiver classes in history so they should be able to find a quality option at picks 43 or 50. I would see if a team wants to deal for Robinson and then I think I’d be very comfortable releasing him even though he was and is the only receiver of note. Good receivers are too easy to find to be paying Robinson $15 million.
Would he help the Chargers: He wouldn’t hurt the Chargers but LA is not a logical destination for him. He still wants to go somewhere to be a number one or two, I’m sure.

Akiem Hicks, DT, $11.8 million cap hit, $8.8 million saved

Hicks may remain one of the league’s most underrated players. The Saints didn’t know how to use him properly so they let him go in 23015 and he started to figure it out over 13 games with the Patriots. He signed a two-year deal with the Bears and immediately came through, putting up 54 tackles, 17 QB hits, 11 TFL, and seven sacks. Chicago signed him to a four-year, $48 million extension and Hicks kept up his end of the deal, averaging eight sacks over the next two years and really helping them become the league’s best defense in 2018 next to Mack.

He missed 11 games last season though and as I said, the defense was not as good. This could be partly attributed to regression and many other factors but Hicks’ absence has to be accounted for. He’ll be 31 next season and there are considerable savings in his release or trade.

Odds of departure: I don’t think this is a guy Chicago will want to lose, unless they’re concerned his knee or elbow injuries are really concerning.
Would he help the Chargers: I think Hicks would help anyone besides the Saints or another team that didn’t put him in the right position. He might still be most successful with the Bears.

Eddie Goldman, DT, $10.8 million cap hit, $1.9 million saved if traded

Goldman has a $3 million roster bonus this year and the Bears might see if they can get another team to take him on or release him before his bonus is due. They could also pay him and still attempt to trade him, which would save them his $3 million guaranteed base salary and eventually get about $2 million off the books. Goldman started 15 games at nose tackle and is only 26. It’s just a lot of money for a nose tackle.

Odds of departure: There’s probably not enough money saved or off the cap in order to make it worth it to explore this too deeply, I imagine. Unless they just want to avoid the roster bonus.
Would he help the Chargers: Potentially but one thing I’ve learned through this cap casualty process is that nose tackles, defensive tackles, run-stoppers will be flooding the market. They’re going to be the running backs of the defense. You can find them in the draft, in free agency, and coming off of the books for other teams. It’ll be interesting to see the movement at that position.

Prince Amukamara, CB, $10 million cap hit, $9 million saved

I can’t imagine that anyone sees Amukamara as a vital piece of a secondary, though he can be helpful if not called upon to be a number one. He has recorded three interceptions over the last four seasons, all of them coming in 2018. He’s an average player, but useful.

Odds of departure: The best thing going for Amukamara is that it is still kinda hard to find average corners or useful starting corners. He can play out there but given the Bears potential talent up front, do they need to use $9 million on an average corner? Couldn’t they use that money on a better corner? Or hide the deficiencies of a mediocre corner with better defense up front, as they likely did for Amukamara in 2018? I think there’s a decent chance of this relationship ending over $9 million.
Would he help the Chargers: He could slot in opposite of Hayward at a vet minimum type of deal. I wouldn’t go far above that.

Trey Burton, TE, $8.5 million cap hit, $5 million saved if traded

I always thought the Burton contract and hype was a fascinating overreaction to a Super Bowl run. Burton was fine for the Bears in 2018 (54 catches, 569 yards, six touchdowns, but three drops), then he missed half of last season and finished with 84 yards.

Odds of departure: Low-ish. The team saves only $1 million by releasing him but $5 million if they can find someone to take on his $4 million guaranteed base salary. That’s a moderately reasonable salary for a healthy Burton, but maybe he’s still more valuable to Chicago in that case.
Would he help the Chargers: Maybe, but not at $4 million.

Bobby Massie, OT, $8.5 million cap hit, $3.1 million saved if traded

I’m a little stunned as I go down the list of contracts. Is this the worst managed cap in the league? Massie’s not a very good right tackle and they save nothing if they outright release him. They would need a team to take on his $6.9 million base salary.

Odds of departure: Once free agency is moving, a team may get desperate for a right tackle. I’d try my hand with the players on the market before going to Massie, so I think he’ll stay with the Bears.
Would he help the Chargers: No, I don’t think so.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, $6.5 million cap hit, $4.5 million saved

He was pretty valuable in Kyle Shanahan’s Atlanta offense in 2016, averaging 11.6 yards per target and scoring six touchdowns. He was maybe even better in those playoffs. He didn’t play that well after Shanahan left and then the Bears paid him $26 million over four years. He had 353 yards and four touchdowns over nine games last season, but is exactly 7.4 yards per target in each of the last three seasons.

Odds of departure: He’s got to be gone. Right?
Would he help the Chargers: He might be an okay third option if he’s costing nothing.

Cordarrelle Patterson, KR, $5.75 million cap hit, $5.25 million saved

He’s a good kick returner.

Odds of departure: You can’t possibly pay almost $6 million for a good kick returner.
Would he help the Chargers: Why?

Tarik Cohen, RB/PR/WR, $2.3 million cap hit, $2.1 million saved

The bottom fell out on the Cohen plan. He went from 71/725/5 as a receiver with 8 yards per target in 2018 to 79/456/3 with 4.4 YPT. The dip was shocking, to catch more passes and half that many fewer yards. Especially given that he’s not a great runner and punt return value is limited.

Odds of departure: I don’t think they’ll be strapped nearly enough to save $2.1 million over a player who actually was really valuable two seasons ago. If they get rid of Trubisky, or if they don’t, Cohen may still be able to help the QB next year.
Would he help the Chargers: Not if they retain RFA Austin Ekeler.

THE MOVES

Retirement: Kyle Long walks away.

Cap Space: $12.6 million

Not Bold: Release Cordarrelle Patterson, Taylor Gabriel

Cap Space: $21.8 million

Somewhat Bold to Some, but Not Me: Trade Allen Robinson

Can they pull this off? Well, Robinson is overpaid at a $15 million cap hit, but a $10.9 million base salary in 2020 is reasonable. I think Pace might be able to get a sixth round pick for that, and I would take it. They don’t need Allen Robinson given the limited passing offense they have anyway. They can find the Robinson production from a guy getting paid $5 million, or even someone on a rookie contract. I do believe that. If they can’t find a trade partner, I think they should release him anyway. There are too many receivers of note in the draft, free agency, and on the trade market to pay Robinson $13 million you don’t have to.

Cap Space: $34.8 million

Bold? I Still Don’t Think So: Release Prince Amukamara

Cap Space: $43.8 million

Go For It: Trade Mitchell Trubisky

It doesn’t work, you can start over with someone else. Teams have done deals like this in the past. Maybe you can even get back a young QB of note. Remember the Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade? This should happen, and a team should take a chance on acquiring Trubisky too. Look at where we’re getting in cap space now ... Chicago could actually maybe sign one of the top QBs on the market by now.

Cap Space: $48.2 million

Re-Negotiate or Release: Leonard Floyd

If you can get Floyd to bring his number down to something like $4 million, spreading his deal over two years, with a guarantee added for his benefit, then maybe Floyd sticks around. Otherwise, I would maybe have to make this move. Look at all the pass rushing and linebacking options available on the market this year and the ones who were traded last year, like Frank Clark and Dee Ford.

Cap Space: $61.5 million

Overview: Look at where Chicago is at now. They can get $61 million in space and I really don’t think it hurts the team. They would just need to do decent work in finding the replacements, but it may not be hard for those replacements to be upgrades and now they could go after Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, or Jameis Winston, among others. I don’t think they need any of the players cut or traded, and they still might be able to move Trey Burton and/or Bobby Massie and/or Eddie Goldman, saving up to $10 million more.

Chargers Interest:

Trubisky is obviously an option you have to consider if you’re LA and he’s on the trade block. It’s only $4.4 million to take a shot at the next Ryan Tannehill. I wonder if it would cost more than a fourth round pick. Tom Telesco doesn’t trade but would he break code for a young QB?

Someone like Burton, Massie, or Goldman might be interesting for practically free. Not more. Same for Amukamara.

I like the idea of Floyd starting fresh on a new defense and with the Chargers, playing alongside some elite front-7 players, maybe he figures it out. That didn’t work with him next to Mack and Hicks and Smith, but it could be worth a flier if he becomes available.