These are strange times in the NFC North. The Minnesota vikings re-upped with Kirk Cousins but traded Stefon Diggs. The Packers have lost plenty of players and added almost none. The Lions are... well, they're the Lions, which is never good. But what we really need to talk about is what's going on over in Chicago, where GM Ryan Pace has some explaining to do.
After opening up some cap space by cutting burdensome contracts, Pace and the Bears turned around and blew it with a flurry of deals highlighted by the inexplicable free agent signing of Jimmy Graham and the silly, needless trade for Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles.
Chicago was sitting pretty after opening up $25 million in space by relieving themselves of Prince Amukamara, Leonard Floyd, and Cody Whitehair. Unfortunately, it's hard to fathom how they could have squandered all that flexibility more clumsily.
Foles carries a $15.625 million cap hit in 2020 and that number jumps up over $20 million in each of the following two years. Graham might not even be worth half of the $16 million he's set to earn over two years given the extent to which he's washed, and the team already has a notable chunk of change committed to Trey Burton at the tight end position.
Yes, they also inked a handful of affordable defensive backs and beastly pass rusher Robert Quinn, who posted 11.5 sacks last year in Dallas. But he's entering his age-30 season and is locked in for five years and $70 million. Betting on the man to stay in working order just about all the way to his 35th birthday is a significant risk.
If we're being comprehensive, their Barkeviouis Mingo signing has some red flags, too.
All told, Ryan Pace has simply struck out. As much as the Bears needed to find an alternative for Mitchell Trubisky, rebuild their secondary, and add some bite on the edge, they utterly mismanaged their breathing room against the cap in order to do so.
In a division like the NFC North, that's just not going to cut it.