Free agents and the draft are the focal point of player acquisitions most of the time in the NFL but every once in awhile football fans feel that same fever that often sweeps the NBA and MLB in regards to trades. They don’t happen often but they are always possible and no team is immune. Every roster has certain players that would make interesting bait if certain things go right, or wrong. So starting in the NFC North, what are some names for Chicago Bears fans to keep track of?
The indomitable defensive end is polishing off a Hall of Fame career in Chicago. He reached his seventh Pro Bowl in 2012 on 11.5 sacks. There is no question he is the best lineman on the roster. However, a number of issues are going against him. His large contract has become burdensome for the team, counting over $16 million against the salary cap this year and will bump to over $17 million in 2014. Despite his obvious accomplishments teams generally don’t like paying that kind of money to 33-year old players who aren’t quarterbacks. Peppers also has chronic foot issues stemming from plantar fasciitis. All of these problems means the Chicago Bears front office could look to trade him to a team needing pass rush help. Otherwise they may have to release him next year to save money.
Sentimentality is a hard thing to get over for fans. The highlight reels of watching Devin Hester scorch teams on kickoff and punt returns to break an NFL record for touchdowns in just five seasons is impossible to forget. Unfortunately it is a right now league. The fact is Hester regressed in 2012, both as a returner and receiver. He is 30-years old and some question how much he can offer the team anymore. The prevailing hope is that the decision of head coach Marc Trestman to make him a full-time returner will help bring back that dynamic playmaker who captivated the nation. What no one realizes is that if Hester does get off to a good start this season, he could give his trade value a nice bump as well. GM Phil Emery is not above dealing players if it will net him cap relief or a solid draft pick. There is still value with Hester as a return man but it’s a question of balancing that value with the long-term future of the franchise.
This is probably the least likely option but the possibility is there. At present Henry Melton is under the franchise tag contract. That means Chicago doesn’t have him for the long-term. Until they reach an extension the idea will float around that they might consider dealing him to another team in favor of an extra first round pick in what is expected to be a very solid 2014 draft. Toss in the fact Emery has done a good job adding depth on the interior including former Saint Sedrick Ellis, it creates interest. All it takes is one key injury on another team and a hot start by Melton and suddenly that interest becomes opportunity. The Chicago Bears will have close to $40 million is salary cap space next season. Adding a second first round pick at the loss of Melton would give them a wonderful chance to infuse their roster on a massive scale with talent.