NFC Notes: Bears, Panthers, Saints

     

Bears

  • The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain writes that had the Bears taken the field for OTAs it would have been the first opportunity to evaluate the quarterback competition, including any changes to Mitchell Trubisky‘s mechanics or improvement in reading coverages, as well as Nick Foles‘ comfort in the offense. 
  • The Bears didn’t bring in any other running backs, indicating they’re still comfortable with 2019 third-round RB David Montgomery as the lead back. 
  • Fishbain adds RB Tarik Cohen is in need of a bounceback season as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Bears RB/FB Ryan Nall is also the most likely candidate to take over as the early-down back if Montgomery is hurt. 
  • Fishbain thinks OTAs would have been a strong opportunity for Bears 2019 fourth-round WR Riley Ridley with WR Anthony Miller still recovering from a shoulder injury. 
  • It also would have been a first look at the right guard competition between free-agent addition Germain Ifedi and Rashaad Coward, though training camp will be the real test. 
  • Fishbain mentions Bears LB Danny Trevathan‘s leadership credentials are what earned him priority over LB Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency. 
  • Former fourth-round LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe and LB Josh Woods will compete to fill Kwiatkoski’s role. Both have been primarily special teamers so far in their career. 
  • At cornerback, the Bears will need to sort through second-round pick Jaylon Johnson, former CFL star Tre Roberson and Kevin Toliver as the starter across from Kyle Fuller
  • As for Fuller, Fishbain says with a $20 million cap hit in the final year of his deal in 2021, he could be an extension candidate after the season. 

Panthers

Despite the rising wave of analytics questioning the wisdom of major contractual investments in running backs, despite the Rams and Cardinals dumping backs they had just recently extended and despite still having two years of team control left, the Panthers made the decision to reset the running back market with a new deal for RB Christian McCaffrey that will pay him an average of $16 million a year. Panthers GM Marty Hurney says McCaffrey’s versatility and status as the face of the team gave them confidence they won’t end up regretting this deal. 

“Christian’s ability and his performance as a receiver is very unique to the running back position, as you can see by the 1,000-1,000 marks that he surpassed last year,” Hurney said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “He really is a different type of running back at the position than maybe we would’ve thought of three, five, 10 years ago because of his ability to create mismatches as a receiver, his ability to run between the tackles, his ability to make big plays. He really is a combination running back/wide receiver. All those things led to us — and as you said, his ability as a leader, the type of commitment that he shows, the type of person that he is, the way he comes every day to get better — all those things went into play.”

Saints

Saints GM Mickey Loomis admitted he wishes they never allowed S Malcolm Jenkins to depart for the Eagles as a free agent back in 2014. 

“Man, looking back, we wish that we hadn’t let him out of the building some years ago,” Loomis said, via Katherine Terrell of The Athletic. “But look, really, really still a good player on the field. Great player on the field. But, the things that he brings to the table in terms of leadership and intelligence and competitiveness. Man, that’s hard to replace when you lose it.”

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