Sports update: Talking Bears and Bulls

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Jeff Neukom, Managing Editor

  1. Wheeling and dealing in the Windy City

On Sept. 29, the Bears announced the trades of former second round pick Jon Bostic and free agent acquisition Jared Allen. They also announced that they’d cut ties with former fourth round pick Brock Vereen. It’s no secret that the Bears have been terrible for the past few seasons – historically so, in fact.

The difference between this regime and past regimes is that this one is at least willing to admit it. Trading Bostic and Allen is a clear signal that the Bears front office has its eyes on the future, which is a relief, since the present makes my stomach churn. Some fans and pundits alike have criticized the Bears’ front office, since Bostic and Allen were talented players.

Here’s why the Bears’ decision was not crazy: Allen, a 33-year-old defensive end, is in the later stages of a productive career. He’s still talented, make no mistake, but he isn’t the dominant force he once was. Most importantly, the Bears are terrible. The team is in dire need of a rebuild, and the smart teams do not build around older, declining players. It’s best to get something for him via trade, instead of letting him walk for nothing when his contract expires.

The Bostic trade stung a bit more, given that the Bears spent a second round draft pick on him and received only a sixth round pick a year later. This one took a minute for me to digest, but then I realized, Bostic was hardly worthy of a second round pick. His potential does not match the price we paid for him, and he was not going to become the face of the franchise. Again, it’s best to get something of value on him in preparation for next year’s draft.

Speaking of next year’s draft, the Bears will likely have at least 10 picks. The best teams build through the draft, and the best way to build through the draft is to stockpile picks. While the Bears received minimal compensation for Allen and Bostic in the form of sixth round picks, every single pick helps. Case in point: the New England Patriots selected quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round. While I suspect the Bears will choose a quarterback in round one (Jared Goff – you heard it here first), having a surplus of picks is how teams like the Seattle Seahawks built a young, dependable core.

You might be wondering if I’ve forgotten about Brock Vereen, since I mentioned his release earlier. The answer is no, I haven’t. I don’t mean to portray him as an afterthought, since he showed some promise and impressive athleticism, but it’s hard to think of him any other way. We weren’t getting anything for him via trade, so I’d rather see someone else get some minutes at safety.

Of course, with any trade talks in the Windy City, people will inevitably ask “When are we trading Jay Cutler?” For better or worse, the embattled quarterback is not going anywhere at this point in time. His bloated, awful, abominable, vile and atrocious contract will make him tough to trade, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears tested the waters. More likely, though, Bears fans will see popular workhorse Matt Forte wearing a different uniform by next season. I suspect he’ll be expendable in the wake of the Bears’ roster renovations, but the Bears could stand to gain at least a fourth round pick with his departure.

  1. Derrick Rose’s latest injury

It’s cruel when a news source publishes a headline like, “Derrick Rose hurt again.” Most Bulls fans picture Rose crumpled on the United Center floor with a torn ACL. This time around, he sustained an orbital fracture after taking an elbow to the face.

Yes, Rose was hurt again during a practice, but before you criticize him for hurting his team or being soft, let me restate that he took an elbow to the face. The hit fractured the bone underneath his eye, requiring surgery. No matter how tough and resilient our skulls might be, they weren’t made to absorb hard contact from an elbow.

New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said the surgery went as planned. The Bulls announced that Rose will return to basketball activities in roughly two weeks, which is on the lower end of the typical estimate for such an injury. It’s possible that he’ll be sporting a facial protector a la Rip Hamilton, but he’ll be out there nonetheless.

“I don’t know [who got him]. It might have been me. It was just one of those plays where everybody’s going so hard, and it’s real physical out there,” teammate Taj Gibson said.

Say what you will about Rose’s past decisions to sit games out, but surgery after taking an elbow to the face is not evidence that he’s “afraid” or “soft.” He’ll be back to basketball activities in a pretty short time, so cool your jets.