What would it take in terms of draft picks to cash in on Jason Campbell before the trade deadline? Is it unreasonable to expect a team that is making a playoff run and who loses their starting QB to make a mouth-watering offer to the Bears front office? At what point, from the Bears organizational standpoint, do you draw a line in the sand and say "The offer is too good to refuse"? -- Mike, Rockford
A few readers have asked similar questions about Jason Campbell. Look, the Bears didn't sign Campbell just to turn around and trade him. They signed him in case Jay Cutler can't bounce back from a hit like the one Ndamukong Suh put on him. And they are not looking to trade him, even for compensation that might be considered overpayment. If the Bears traded Campbell and then Cutler went down, critics would spend the rest of the year saying Phil Emery should be fired. But I'll play your game. If a team offered a second round pick for Campbell, the Bears would have to think long and hard about it. Anything less would be a quick no. I cannot envision any scenario in which a team offers a second round pick for Campbell's services for half a season. Don't forget that Campbell's value would be limited for most teams because he would need to learn a new offense on short order. So don't hold your breath for a Campbell trade.
Why couldn't the Bears get some type of return of a low draft pick for Chris Williams considering the shortage of quality linemen to even be backups? If he was not valuable enough to bring a draft choice then there may be others out there who may be an option for the Bears? It needs to be one way or the other. -- Ross Scanio, Wheaton
It's hard to find a trade partner for a backup offensive lineman who is under contract only through the end of the year. If Williams had another year on his deal, my bet is the Bears would have been able to trade him for a late round draft pick. There clearly was interest in him, judging by the fact that he visited multiple teams and signed with the Rams for more than the NFL minimum. If the Bears thought there was an offensive tackle available better than Williams or Jonathan Scott, who is the player who replaced Williams, they would have signed him.
Dan, I recall reading that if the Bears let Chris Williams walk after the end of the season they would be rewarded a compensatory selection. Is that correct? Is it worth losing a draft pick by releasing Williams now? -- Tim L, San Antonio, Texas
It is possible that if the Bears retained Williams until the end of the season and then he signed with another team, the Bears would have been awarded a compensatory selection in the 2014 draft, not the 2013 draft. Compensatory selections are determined by a complicated formula that encompasses not only the player or players lost, but also the players the team signs who were unrestricted free agents. Best case scenario is the Bears would have received a 2014 sixth round pick for Williams. More likely is it would have been a seventh rounder, but they might not have been awarded anything if they sign some premium free agents. Given the chance for a compensatory pick and the fact that Williams can play four positions on the line, I thought it would have made more sense to release another player.
I think Matt Forte is the most underrated player in the NFL today. He is an amazingly complete running back, certainly the best one Chicago has had in a few years. Maybe the best since some No. 34 cleats hit the Soldier Field sod? Do you agree? -- Ryan Hall, Phoenix, AZ
Forte is very good, and you probably could call him underrated. He is one of the best running backs the Bears have had in many years, maybe the best since Walter Payton. You could make an argument that Forte needs to continue to produce as he has over the last couple of years to surpass Neal Anderson as the best since Payton. Anderson also was an underrated player. Like Forte, he was versatile and also made big contributions to the passing game. He had three 1,000 yard rushing seasons -- one more than Forte. And he was voted to four Pro Bowls. Forte has been voted to one.
Has the ghost of Frank Omiyale somehow seeped into Gabe Carimi's body? This is two weeks in a row with multiple penalties and sub-par play. If it happens again against Carolina, he has to be replaced by Jonathan Scott, right? -- Bob Van Horne, Waco, Texas
Carimi is not going to be replaced anytime soon. Nor should he be. Remember, he was a first-round draft pick that this coaching staff has invested in. He's going to be on a much longer leash than, say, Chris Spencer was. He also is one of the most talented linemen on the team. But he is basically still a rookie. We should expect some inconsistencies while he learns and grows. He has shown some good things too. Carimi does have to pick it up though.
In your Oct. 18th mailbag, you state that "offensive linemen have not kept pace athletically with defensive linemen, which exacerbates the problem" of defensive lines generally outplaying offensive lines. OK, point well taken. So why not convert some defensive lineman into offensive lineman? It certainly worked well for about a decade with James "Big Cat" Williams. -- Tom Dean, San Juan Capistrano, Calif[
Changing positions from defense to offense is not very easily done. It isn't very common for a number of reasons. The body type of most defensive linemen is considerably different from the body type of most offensive linemen, so there aren't many candidates from a physical standpoint. If a defensive linemen is having success at his position, no one will consider moving him. So you would need a defensive lineman who is built like an offensive lineman who is not having success on defense. And then you would need time. That is not a transition that could be made quickly. It took Big Cat a year and a half before he became a starting offensive tackle. And he was an unusual case. Had he gone to a major football school instead of Cheyney, he probably would have been an offensive tackle all along.
I'm assuming the Bears will hold course and pick late in the first round of 2013 draft. There are two prospects available of generally equal value who play left tackle and MLB. Do the Bears take the lineman or do they draft Urlacher's eventual replacement who can learn behind the master for a year or two? -- Andy Schuttinga, Sioux Center, Iowa
For the sake of answering your question, I will assume that we are approaching this as if J'Marcus Webb is being written off (Webb has been playing pretty well lately and if he continues, left tackle will not be a need position in the draft). If all things are equal with the players' grades and the needs, I would probably take the left tackle. I'm a big believer in building up front, especially with high-round draft picks. The bust factor is lower with offensive linemen than it is with players at other positions. It's easier to win with a below average middle linebacker than it is to win with a below average left tackle.
Dan, I have to take issue with your statement in last week's mailbag that Brian Urlacher is better than Mike Singletary. Let's review, shall we? Singletary: 10 Pro Bowls, eight-time first-team All-Pro, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, one-time World Champion, No. 57 on the NFL Network's list of the greatest players of all-time. Urlacher: eight Pro Bowls, four-time first team All-Pro, one-time Defensive Player of the Year, zero times World Champion, nowhere to be found on NFL Network's list. Care to reconsider your statement? -- Richard George, Midlothian
I have covered both of these fine players for the majority of their careers. I meant no disrespect to Singletary, who is a true Hall of Famer and was one of my favorite players I've ever covered. Don't get too caught up in Pro Bowls and honors though. They don't tell the whole story, but both players have a pretty full trophy case. Singletary was better at some things than Urlacher. He took on blocks better. He was a tremendous force between the tackles against the run. And he had better instincts. Urlacher has been better at some things than Singletary was. He's four inches taller, nearly 30 pounds heavier, much faster and more athletic by quite a bit. He could impact games in more places on the field--outside the numbers and down the field. He is a better pass defender. And he has made more big plays. In 176 games, Urlacher has 41.5 sacks and 21 interceptions. In 179 games Singletary had 19 sacks and seven interceptions. I just think Urlacher could do more things to win you a game than Singletary could.
I agree that the Bear defense in '85 was one of the best in modern history. Never, though, have I heard any mention of how much better they may have been had both Todd Bell and Al Harris not held out that year. -- James Dogert
There is little doubt the Bears defense would have been better with Bell and Harris. But you can only play 11 at a time, and the players who replaced them in 1985 had outstanding seasons. Bell's replacement Dave Duerson made the Pro Bowl in 1985, and Harris' replacement Wilber Marshall certainly could have. If Bell had not held out, Duerson probably never would have played. If Harris had not held out, he might have been beaten out by Marshall.
Aside from willingness to answer questions, and aside from star status, what earns a player a reputation as a good interview? Can you name any current or former players who stand out as good interviewees, and explain what made them so good? Somewhat related: Can you recall the strongest reaction (positive or negative) you have received from a player regarding something you have written? -- Chris C., Chicago
There are a few factors that go into whether or not a player is a good interview. The first is willingness. Then there is the ability to communicate well verbally. There is thoughtfulness. Perspective. Humor. A lot of interview subjects are better away from the podium and in one-on-one situations. Brian Urlacher is like that. Brandon Marshall quickly has become one of the best interviews in the Bears' locker room. Some of my favorites in other locker rooms include Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Jared Allen, Charles Woodson, Jeff Saturday and Matt Hasselbeck. Some of my all-time favorite Bear interview subjects are Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Doug Plank, Dan Hampton, Jay Hilgenberg, Shaun Gayle, Ron Rivera, Trace Armstrong, Jerry Fontenot, Erik Kramer, Jim Miller and Chris Harris. My all-time favorite interview subject from any team would be Brett Favre. And I would say the strongest reaction I ever had to a story was probably having a cup of orange juice thrown at my chest. That is a story for another day though....