Here is the seventh of eight positional breakdowns of the Chicago Bears' offseason roster following the NFL draft.

Position: Linebacker

Notable additions: Pernell McPhee, Sam Acho and Mason Foster

Notable subtractions: Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams and Khaseem Greene

Summary: The Bears paid McPhee $15.5 million in guaranteed cash to be one of their starting outside linebackers. McPhee (pictured) is expected to rush from multiple positions and be used in a variety of ways. Former 4-3 defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston (injured) and Willie Young (injured) are listed as outside linebackers on the Bears' offseason roster. However, the Bears plan to be in a 5-2 (five defensive linemen, two linebackers) front a substantial amount of the time, so the ex-pass-rushers will probably be asked to once again line up in a three-point stance depending on the call. David Bass, who is 6-foot-4, is another linebacker believed to possess the versatility to play standing up or with his hand on the ground. Acho is an experienced outside linebacker who started 32 career games for the Arizona Cardinals from 2011-14. Former undrafted rookie free agent Christian Jones -- 98 tackles and two sacks in 2014 -- appears to be a frontrunner to start at inside linebacker. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently referred to Jones as a potential building block on defense. Jon Bostic led the Bears with 127 tackles last year, and should contend for a starting role, but don't count out Foster. A free-agent pickup, Foster, 26, excelled in Tampa as an inside linebacker (career-high 105 tackles in 2012) before the Buccaneers switched to a Cover-2 style of defense under coach Lovie Smith. The Bears will also take a look at 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin at inside linebacker; however after the club declined McClellin's 2016 option, his roster spot is far from guaranteed. McClellin did play linebacker in a 3-4 defense in college at Boise State.

Here is the sixth of eight positional breakdowns of the Chicago Bears' offseason roster following the NFL draft.

Position: Defensive line

Notable additions: Defensive end Ray McDonald, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (second-round pick)

Notable subtractions: Stephen Paea

Summary: The front-seven is fluid. Even though Jared Allen (pictured), Lamarr Houston (injured) and Willie Young (injured) have been unofficially classified as linebackers, there is a good chance all three continue to rush out of a three-point stance in certain situations. So discussing the new 3-4 defensive line without at least mentioning Allen, Houston and Young’s projected contributions is a little shortsighted. David Bass is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. Prized free agent outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is also expected to rush from different spots. So there are a lot of moving parts at play here. As for the scheme-specific members of the defensive front, McDonald is an instant upgrade at defensive end. He is a risky signing given his off-the-field issues, but he fits the scheme perfectly -- he was a former full-time starter in San Francisco under new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Jenkins arrives in Chicago after starting 33 games the past three years for the Washington Redskins and is expected to be part of the defensive line rotation. General manager Ryan Pace said on draft weekend that veteran Jeremiah Ratliff will be one of the core members of the defensive line, with the versatility to play multiple positions. 2015 second-round draft choice Eddie Goldman is slated to be a nose tackle in the 3-4 defense and should contribute immediately. It’s unclear how recent draft picks Ego Ferguson (second round), Will Sutton (third round) and Cornelius Washington (sixth) fit in the new defense, but Ferguson (6-foot3, 315 pounds) and Washington (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) seem to have a better shot to stick because of their size. Fangio said at rookie minicamp that he prefers bigger players up front. Sutton is listed at only 6-foot.

Here is the fifth of eight positional breakdowns of the Chicago Bears' offseason roster following the NFL draft.

Position: Quarterback

Notable additions: Shane Carden and Pat Devlin

Notable subtractions: None

Summary: Despite rampant offseason speculation, Jay Cutler remains the Bears' No. 1 quarterback. Adam Gase will be the fifth offensive coordinator to coach Cutler since he arrived in Chicago in 2009. Cutler completed 370 of 561 pass attempts for 3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions last year. He lost his job in Week 16, but an injury to Jimmy Clausen forced Cutler back on the field for the Bears' season finale loss in Minnesota. Even though the Bears finished a disastrous 5-11, Cutler did have the second-highest quarterback rating of his career (88.6). Gase recently spoke highly of No. 2 quarterback Clausen, who completed 23 of 39 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his lone start in 2014. Clausen appears to be secure in the primary backup role. He also played for Bears head coach John Fox in Carolina. The No. 3 job (if the Bears decide to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster) is between 2014 sixth-round pick David Fales, undrafted rookie free agent Shane Carden and former Miami Dolphin and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Pat Devlin. Devlin actually won a roster spot based on his performance at the club's rookie minicamp, although Devlin is far from a rookie. If the Bears quarterback of the future is currently on the 90-man offseason roster, he has yet to reveal himself publicly.

ESPN athletics aesthetics expert Paul Lukas has some fashion advice for the Chicago Bears.

In his latest rankings of NFL uniforms for the 2015 season, Lukas drops the Bears three spots to No. 4 overall.

Lukas’ two major complaints about the Bears’ game-day attire – the helmet and jersey collar.

While most fans love the classic “C” on the side of the Bears’ helmets, Lukas feels the logo is a bit dated.

He also penalizes the Bears for using the Nike Flywire collar on their jerseys; noting that the three teams ranked ahead of the Bears - Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers – do not use the Nike Flywire collar style.

The Chicago Bears rank 144th out of 333 international teams surveyed in an ESPN/SportingIntelligence report that identifies the sports franchises that spend the most on their players.

The Bears' average annual player salary is $2.2 million. The club’s total player payroll of $111.6 million ranks 44th.

Here is the fourth of eight positional breakdowns of the Chicago Bears' offseason roster following the NFL draft.

Position: Wide receiver

Notable additions: Kevin White (first-round pick) and Eddie Royal

Notable subtractions: Brandon Marshall

Summary: Even without Marshall, the Bears have a strong group of wide receivers led by the 6-foot-3 Alshon Jeffery, who is entering the final year of his contract. Jeffery had a team-high 1,133 receiving yards in 2014 and now has 2,921 career receiving yards -- the second-most receiving yards ever by a Bears player in their first three NFL seasons. Jeffery is also fifth in the league in receiving touchdowns (17) since 2013. On the other side of the line, White, who also stands 6-foot-3, projects to be a superstar. The seventh overall pick in the draft, White caught 109 balls for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns last season at West Virginia. He also runs a 4.35 40-yard dash. White still needs to prove himself, but appears to be a younger version of Marshall on paper. The Bears gave Royal $10 million guaranteed in free agency. The seven-year veteran had 62 catches for 778 yards and seven touchdowns for the San Diego Chargers in 2014 and is expected to be the slot receiver. Third-year wideout Marquess Wilson was supposed to have a breakout season last season, but a training camp injury derailed his sophomore campaign. Wilson was a Phil Emery late draft pick (seventh-round), so the new regime has no ties to the 6-foot-4 receiver. Wilson needs a strong preseason to ensure he’s on the 53-man roster. Maybe Wilson thrives in Bourbonnais because public expectations have been lowered. Regardless of Wilson, the Bears have one of the better wide receiver trios in the league with Jeffery, White and Royal. The group should be a strength of the team unless the unit suffers a rash of injuries like it did last season.

[+] EnlargeDave Duerson
AP Photo/Susan WalshThe family of Dave Duerson, pictured above, doesn't want to hold up awards for NFL retirees who need the money sooner rather than later, their lawyer said.

PHILADELPHIA -- The family of the late Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson has decided not to appeal the potential $1 billion settlement of NFL concussion lawsuits.

Chicago lawyer Thomas Demetrio says the family doesn't want to hold up awards for retirees who need them sooner rather than later.

Demetrio has criticized aspects of the plan, especially the exclusion of future awards for the brain trauma found in Duerson and other former players after their deaths.

However, Demetrio says the Duersons and other clients will support the plan for the sake of nearly 20,000 NFL retirees.

The NFL could pay out $1 billion over 65 years for player awards, medical care and medical monitoring.

A federal judge in Philadelphia has approved the settlement. But at least one other planned appeal could keep it on hold.

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First-year Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace had an above average offseason, this according to ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando, who graded each NFL team based on their transactions since the Super Bowl.

To help complete the project, Sando enlisted the help of ESPN analysts Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Matt Williamson and Field Yates. Sando also took into account ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s draft grades.

[+] EnlargeJohn Fox
David Banks/Getty ImagesThe hiring of John Fox ignited on an offseason of major changes for the Bears, who have added some interesting pieces.

Of all the analysts, Riddick is by far the most enthusiastic about the Bears’ offseason moves, telling Sando, “"The coaching staff is star-studded with a lot of brain power in Vic Fangio and Adam Gase. Whether Antrel Rolle can be the jack of all trades at strong safety in that 3-4, that is key. Eddie Goldman, if he can stabilize the nose, that is key. They are building it strong down the middle. I like how they have done it from the top down, GM to coach to coordinators and then strengthening the roster down the middle. Now, we'll see if it works."

While the Bears certainly strengthened the coaching staff with additions such as head coach John Fox, Fangio and Gase, the team was unable to solve its quarterback dilemma – Polian tells Sando he would have handled the Jay Cutler situation the same way the Bears handled it.

To be fair, the Bears had limited options available at quarterback, but until the most important position on the field is fixed, it’s hard to call the Bears a contender. However, the additions of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, wide receivers Eddie Royal and Kevin White, defensive end Ray McDonald, Rolle and Goldman appear to be a step in the right direction.

In light of NFL owners voting 30-2 to approve pushing the extra point kick back to the 15-yard line, the ESPN Stats & Information crew analyzed the two-point conversion success rate for teams in 2014.

Theoretically, the increased difficulty in kicking extra points from 32 or 33 yards may cause teams to attempt more two-point conversions from the 2-yard line next season.

Believe it or not, the 5-11 Chicago Bears went 5-for-5 in two-point conversion attempts last year, the highest success rate in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings tied for second place, converting 4-of-4 two-point conversions.

Digging deeper into the Bears’ five two point-conversions, four of the five successful attempts (80 percent) were designed passing plays.

But this is not a feelgood story.

Sadly, even a positive statistic from the Marc Trestman era can be spun to a negative.

Sure, the Bears hit on 5-of-5 two-point conversions, but four of the attempts occurred late in horrific blowout losses to the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.

Even the Bears’ lone two-point conversion in a winning effort (against Atlanta) comes with some tiny baggage. The only reason Chicago elected to go for two points following a Matt Forte 9-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run in the Georgia Dome is because the Bears had an extra point blocked in the third quarter.

Just another reminder of how nothing came easy for the Bears under Trestman.

Here is the full list of the Bears’ 2014 two-point conversions:

Oct. 12 @Atlanta: Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett

Oct. 20 @ New England: Cutler to Dante Rosario

Oct. 20 @ New England: Cutler to Forte

Dec. 4 vs. Dallas: Forte run

Dec. 15 vs. New Orleans: Cutler to Bennett

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrett Favre's No. 4 will be retired this summer, when he's inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18. A ceremony will follow during a Thanksgiving night game against the Bears.

MADISON, Wis. -- Brett Favre couldn't think of a better night to return to Lambeau Field. He just wishes he could do it twice this year.

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback said Wednesday that the Thanksgiving night game against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 26 will serve as the perfect opportunity for his retired No. 4 to be unveiled at Lambeau.

"I felt like that was the right fit," Favre said Wednesday during a conference call to promote his flag football game this summer. "The tradition and the history between the Bears [and Packers] dates back long before any of us were around. Just some fun games and rivalries over the years, and so being a Thanksgiving game, just the magnitude of that in itself is huge. And to me, it's just the right fit, the right choice."

Favre was hoping to actually play one more game at Lambeau this year, but the Packers passed on the chance to host the Brett Favre's Legends Game on July 19, the day after his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.

Instead, details of the game to be held at the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium were announced Wednesday.

(Read full post)

Biggest weaknesses for NFC North teams

May, 19, 2015
May 19

In a series of articles over the next few days, Football Outsiders will be looking division-by-division at the biggest weakness left on each team's roster after free agency and the 2015 NFL draft.

This edition examines the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Biggest post-draft weakness: Secondary

You can really pick your poison with either cornerback or safety here, and unfortunately the Bears will have to. They have little in the way of surefire foundational pieces at defensive back. In fairness, switching to Vic Fangio's multiple 3-4 scheme requires a multiyear commitment to overhauling the old personnel.

Here is the third of eight positional breakdowns of the Chicago Bears' offseason roster following the NFL draft.

Position: Running back

Notable additions: Jeremy Langford (fourth-round pick) and Jacquizz Rodgers

Notable subtractions: None

Summary: Matt Forte played 90 percent of the snaps last year en route to catching a career-high 102 passes and rushing for 1,038 yards. Forte, 29, is one of the top all-purpose backs in the league, but Bears general manager Ryan Pace declined to extend Forte’s contract in the early offseason. Barring a trade, Forte is expected to be a focal point of the offense, although head coach John Fox prefers to use multiple tailbacks over the course of a game. The Bears raved about Langford’s elite speed after the club drafted the Michigan State standout in the fourth round. Langford, who the Bears also project to be a solid contributor on special teams, is a lock to make the 53-man roster. On the other hand, 2014 fourth-round choice Ka'Deem Carey needs a strong preseason in order to impress the new general manager and coaching staff. Carey carried the football just 36 times for 158 yards during his rookie year. A four-year veteran, Rodgers is expected to push for a roster spot after having a sizeable role in Atlanta’s offense. Although Rodgers is listed at 5-foot-6, he is a physical player who is not afraid to take on bigger blitzers in pass protection. Rodgers also has good hands out the backfield -- Rodgers caught 155 balls in four seasons with the Falcons -- but he is not known to possess breakaway speed. Second-year running back Senorise Perry is also in the mix for the final spot on the tailback depth chart. Perry appeared in 16 games last year, recording a team-high 17 special teams tackles and forcing two fumbles.

Join us today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) for an NFL Nation TV Spreecast Special as we chat with Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and his daughter Erin. Both will be present to discuss Erin's new book "Kelly Tough: Live Courageously by Faith."

The book outlines not-so-public challenges of the former Buffalo Bills signal-caller's recent fight with cancer, and the family's strength and faith that helped him overcome the toughest opponent of his life.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) will also be joined by Mike Rodak (Buffalo Bills reporter) on the show.

As always, viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.

Soldier FieldCourtesy of the Chicago BearsSeven new digital video screens inside Soldier Field will be unveiled this summer.

CHICAGO -- In a digital message sent to season ticket holders on Tuesday, the Chicago Bears announced the details of the 2015 stadium enhancements planned for Soldier Field.

Seven new digital video screens inside the stadium will be unveiled this summer, including two high definition video boards in the end zones that will be 310 percent larger than the existing boards.

Minus the surrounding frames, the video boards in the end zones will measure 4,984 square feet -- 127.8’ (width), 39’ (height).

The video boards will have the highest picture quality in the NFL, according to the Bears.

Furthermore, the digital Ribbon panels that stretch across the east and west 300 level fascia will span 390 feet, and a new Ribbon panel on the west 200 level fascia will measure 444 feet in width. The four smaller video screens in the four end-zone corners will each consume a total of 63.7 square feet.

In addition, Soldier Field plans to open a modern, lounge area called The Den on the west side mezzanine level behind sections 136 and 138. On Bears game days, The Den is available only to the team’s season ticket holders, who will be notified through an annual random selection process. The space will be open to the public before and during all non-Bears major events.

Soldier Field’s management company, SMG, plans to also rent out The Den for private functions.