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Offseason Primers: Chicago Bears

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Lovie Smith era ended with another whiff at a postseason berth. The Bears cleaned house as a result and went on the offensive with their next head coach, choosing Montreal Alouettes head coach and long-time NFL offensive assistant Marc Trestman. The theory behind the hire is that the Bears will finally have some stability on offense after having two offenses and three playcallers over the last four years.

Those last four years have been a nightmare for Jay Cutler as he's navigated through those scheme changes while playing behind a clumsy, unimproved offensive line. Many people will characterize Cutler as a malcontent through his actions and body language but the reality is that he's been stuck on a roster bereft of talent.

Not until last season did he have a legit No. 1 receiver in Chicago and he made the most out of throwing 193 passes to Brandon Marshall, affording the receiver to have a career year. Having Matt Forte in the backfield has been a perk for Cutler too, as the rusher recorded another year with over 1,400 total yards. The Bears' run game tallied 11 touchdowns but Forte only had five on the ground. In order for Forte's touchdown numbers to get better, Cutler will need to find him.

2012 Touches Leaders
757 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Matt Forte 292 (248 car., 44 rec.) 38.6%
Michael Bush 123 (114 car., 9 rec.) 16.2%
Brandon Marshall 119 (118 rec., 1 car.) 15.7%
Jay Cutler 41 car. 5.4%
Earl Bennett 29 rec. 3.8%
Alshon Jeffery 24 rec. 3.2%
All Others 129 17.1%

The rest of the Bears offense, for lack of a better term, stunk out loud. The offensive line struggled to protect Cutler, the receivers behind Marshall were either banged up or overmatched and the tight ends couldn't contribute much, be it as blockers or pass catchers. Trestman has his work cut out for him, but fortunately he has a modest track record going back to his days with George Seifert and the San Francisco 49ers. Though only twice in his NFL coaching career has Trestman fielded a quarterback that has thrown for over 4,000 yards, he has a solid history of being unafraid to throw often while developing versatile running backs.

While handing the defensive duties over to veteran coordinator Mel Tucker, who probably won't change much, Trestman should be able to breathe life into the Bears offense. In turn, Cutler should be able to perform to levels he hasn't had since joining Chicago. For a playoff-hungry team like the Bears, the plan better work out as good as it sounds.

Jay Cutler -- Late-round flier

2012 Target Leaders
485 pass attempts
Brandon Marshall 194 40.0%
Matt Forte 60 12.4%
Earl Bennett 49 10.1%
Alshon Jeffery 48 9.9%
Kellen Davis 44 9.1%
All Others 90 18.5%

It seems like every year we're labeling Cutler as a quarterback worth a late-round gamble. Well, this might be the last. Cutler is entering a contract year and the Bears could opt to go in a different direction, or at least not sign him to a long-term deal, if he doesn't perform to the expectations they had for him when the traded for him in 2009. To Cutler's credit, he's balanced so many schematic changes while dancing behind a brutal offensive line since he's started in Chicago, yet he's still led the Bears to one NFC title game, two 10-plus-win seasons and three non-losing campaigns. Many quarterbacks swear by Trestman's knowledge and play-calling abilities and there's little doubt he will lean on Cutler this season, so it should afford him the chance to put up 4,000 passing yards, a number he has yet to reach while in Chicago. Cutler sees Joe Flacco go from pumpkin to hero and could do the exact same thing in 2013. That's why he should be a late round consideration after the likes of Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger are off the board.

Alshon Jeffery -- Bust

It took the Bears an eternity to land a legitimate receiving threat, and now you think they're good enough to have two?! Marshall is going to get his targets, which means he'll get his numbers. The only way that doesn't happen is if he misses playing time, in which case Jeffery could step in and be a factor. Last year, Jeffery scored in three of 10 games and posted seven or more Fantasy points in four of eight games where he played at least 40 snaps. Those are decent jumping off points for a young receiver but they don't necessarily translate well to Fantasy. What's more, Trestman's track record suggests his offenses will tilt toward one receiver rather than aim for balance. In the last 22 years he's coached in the pros, college and in Canada, Trestman has had two or more highly productive receivers seven times (four in the pass-happy CFL).

Michael Bush -- Bust

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Jay Cutler Late-round pick
Matt Forte 13-22 overall
Michael Bush Late-round handcuff
Brandon Marshall 20-30 overall
Alshon Jeffery Undrafted
Kellen Davis Undrafted
Robbie Gould Late-round pick
Bears DST 125-135 overall

The only Fantasy owners who should spend time staring at Bush's name on Draft Day are those who spend a second-round pick on Matt Forte (or those looking for running back depth in Round 15). A year ago we were frustrated that Bush "settled" for a part-time gig in Chicago but it looks like NFL decision makers knew what they were doing. Over 114 carries Bush averaged a career-worst 3.6 yards per and paired it with a three-year low in receiving average (a still-good 9.2 but on just nine catches). About the only positive to Bush's game is his touchdown production and Trestman has shown a willingness in the past to use a fresh back at the goal line. All you have to do is figure out when Bush will score and you'll have yourself a Fantasy stud -- but that's obviously hard to do. Steer clear of him in drafts this summer.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Chargers safety Eric Weddle 'highly disrespected' by contract talks
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Chargers defensive back Eric Weddle let his frustrations out Monday about his current contract negotiations with the team. Weddle, who is skipping the team's voluntary workouts this month, hasn't received anything from the team he wants to agree to, according to U-T San Diego.

"I feel highly, highly disrespected," Weddle said. "... It is what it is, but there is no reason for me to put out any more effort. We've come to them numerous times and said we want to be part of the team, we want to retire as a Charger. We've completely gotten pushed aside."

Weddle has missed just four games in his eight-year career with San Diego, totaling 229 tackles over the last two seasons. 


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(4/20/2015) Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was on hand for the team's voluntary workouts Monday and isn't worrying about his contract, according to the team's website. 

Green, who is entering a contract season, wants to focus on the upcoming season, not money.

"I handle the part of playing. I'm not hurting for money," said Green. "I got my option. That's enough for now. I'm just focused on football. Next year will take care of itself."

Green is expected to earn $10.176 million in 2015. He also noted he wasn't healthy for much of the 2014 season.

"I was not out there like I need to. I was never 100 percent.  I felt like I never played like I should have," Green said. "Yeah, I'm a 100 percent."

Green had 69 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games in 2014.


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(4/20/2015) The Vikings are reportedly going to give it one more week of searching for a trade partner for running back Adrian Peterson, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

A source told the newspaper if Peterson is not traded by next week, the Vikings will keep him. Minnesota is still reportedly talking with the Cardinals, Falcons, Cowboys, Jaguars, Chargers and Buccaneers to get a possible deal done, according to the source.

Peterson was reinstated last week by the league for his suspension stemming from child-abuse charges. He is under contract with the Vikings for the next three seasons for $43.25 million, including $12.75 in 2015.


Report: S Johnson Bademosi, LB Craig Robertson re-sign with Browns
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(4/20/2015) The Browns have reportedly re-signed safety Johnson Bademosi and inside linebacker Craig Robertson, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Bademosi totaled 12 tackles in 14 games last season while Robertson made 99 tackles with two interceptions and one touchdown in all 16 games.


Report: Fullback Will Johnson re-signs with Steelers
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(4/20/2015) The Steelers and fullback Will Johnson have reportedly agreed to terms, bringing the veteran back for his fourth season with the club, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Johnson, who was a restricted free agent, has played 47 of a possible 48 games in his career, totaling four carries for seven yards and 29 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.


Report: Rams sign S Rodney McLeod, TE Cory Harkey to RFA tenders
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) The Rams have reportedly signed safety Rodney McLeod and tight end Cory Harkey to their restricted free agent tenders, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Harkey had eight catches for 55 yards and a touchdown last season while McLeod totaled 72 tackles with two interceptions in 16 games.


Report: Rams QB Austin Davis signs RFA tender, set to return in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Rams quarterback Austin Davis agreed to sign his restricted free agent tender and will be back in St. Louis in 2015, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Davis got his first chance to start in the league in 2014, starting 10 games for St. Louis. He threw for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions after starter Sam Bradford went down in the preseason.


WR Kamar Aiken, CB Tramain Jacobs sign ERT with Ravens
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(4/20/2015) The Ravens have announced that wide receiver Kamar Aiken and cornerback Tramain Jacobs each signed their exclusive-rights tenders on Monday, reports the Baltimore Sun. 

Aiken's offer was for $585,000 while Jacobs' was $510,000. 

Aiken played in 16 games for Ravens last season, catching 24 passes for 267 yards. Jacobs played in three games in 2014, finishing his rookie campaign on injured reserve (thigh).


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(4/20/2015) Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said he's "about 90 percent" healed from his torn biceps injury suffered in Week 9 that ended his 2014 season, reports the New York Daily News

Amukamara left the Monday night game against the Colts with the injury and did not return the rest of the season. 

In eight games last year, Amukamara recorded 45 tackles (37 solo), 11 pass defenses and three interceptions.


WR/KR Jeremy Ross signs exclusive right tender with Lions
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(4/20/2015) Wide receiver and kick returner Jeremy Ross has signed his exclusive right tender with the Lions, the team has announced.

Ross, a four-year NFL veteran, started 13 of the Lions' 16 games last year and caught 32 passes for 284 yards.

 
 
 
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