The 29th overall pick in 2011, Gabe Carimi has 16 career starts. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can chalk new offensive lineman Gabe Carimi up as a low-risk addition.
He's cheap, with just his 2013 base salary of a little more than $1 million guaranteed to him (the Bears, who traded Carimi to Tampa Bay for a sixth-round pick, are responsible for the prorated remainder of his $3.6 million signing bonus). Carimi also provides 16 games worth of NFL starting experience to the Bucs' line, which needed more depth. He might even wind up on the first team, either in place of projected starting right guard Davin Joseph, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury; or at right tackle, where Demar Dotson played surprisingly well last season.
Long story short, there is enough of a potential upside here for the Bucs to take on Carimi. So why were the Bears in such a rush to get rid of him?
It's certainly possible that Carimi put himself in the doghouse of Chicago's new coaching staff by skipping OTAs to work out with ex-NFL player LeCharles Bentley. That move came shortly after rookie head coach Marc Trestman said at the Bears' first voluntary minicamp (from which Carimi was absent) that the team was going to "focus on him competing at the guard position," rather than Carimi's former right tackle spot. (Emphasis on the word "voluntary" -- Carimi was not required to attend any of the offseason workouts the Bears have had thus far.)
His absence gave off the impression, though, at least outwardly, that Carimi wanted out of Chicago. Whether or not Carimi actually forced the Bears' hand here, the team's front office clearly felt no extra loyalty to a player drafted by the old regime. (Carimi's agent has not responded to SI.com's request for comment on the situation.)
We often see a little house-cleaning done after coaching moves in the NFL. Maybe Carimi, be it from a talent perspective or on account of his attitude, did not fit Trestman's vision for the Bears.
But this trade still does more to hurt Chicago on paper than it does to help. While an extra sixth-round pick may come in handy next draft, the Bears employed one of the NFL's most inconsistent offensive lines in 2012 and further depleted the ranks by dealing Carimi, a young player capable of filling in at multiple positions.
Carimi's loss puts more pressure on J'Marcus Webb to thrive with a move to right tackle and on Long to rapidly mature during the preseason. The options behind them are minimal at the moment -- underwhelming tackles Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton are the fallbacks after Webb; James Brown and Edwin Williams, a pair of stopgap players, now round out the depth chart at guard.
That the Bears, with such a shaky collection of offensive linemen, deemed Carimi not worth the trouble raises a red flag.
It also begs the question: Was this really necessary? Was Carimi so massive a failure and such a potential problem in the locker room that Chicago had to dump him for next to nothing?
Even if the Bears answer was a resounding "yes," it's hard to shake the feeling that they bailed on Carimi before they had to do so.