The Bears reworked the contract of outside linebacker Robert Quinn to get back $3.5 million of cap space, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
It was probably necessary because they were just a million under the cap, per Spotrac.com. But it's also possible they need a little extra money in case they want to bring in an another player, maybe an extra running back if their current run of bad health luck with backs continues.
Coach Matt Nagy confirmed Friday that on Sunday they won't have Damien Williams, the backup to injured David Montgomery. Williams has gone on the reserve/COVID-19 list and an ESPN report says he tested positive. So they could be without Williams for a few games.
It would be easy at this point to blast GM Ryan Pace for not keeping around Cordarrelle Patterson.
It would be very easy, although the offense didn't seem to know how to use Patterson or he didn't know how to be used in the offense—something he definitely had trouble with at other stops in his career.
They do have Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce behind third back Khalil Herbert for now, and Nagy seems to have confidence in the sixth-round rookie from Virginia Tech. Whether they have confidence Herbert could be the load back for this game against the first-place Packers is another matter.
"Could Khalil shoulder the load and do it, I don't know," Nagy admitted. "I guess we'll see and if that ever happens, I mean I don't know, I would think he could. But at the same point in time you've got to make sure you have depth because it is a physical game.
"I think that's where these players that come in that are behind them they've got to be prepared. It's kind of like last week, right? You say a player like Damien Williams, what's the most carries he's ever had in an NFL game? And then you look at, OK, well they had 18 and 16 (carries) respectively. I think it helps the guys, so they're fresh every rep. Some guys will get beat down and you're starting to kind of see that in the league."
So it would seem they will need to get some use out of the two Oregon State running backs behind Herbert.
Fit offense to the backs
Nagy said the key will be playing to the strength of all the backs they use against Green Bay in order to squeeze something out of them.
"When you start going through and creating an identity, you start understanding that these players, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses," Nagy said. "So probably the thing we need to do as coaches is making sure we're using those strengths, whatever that is, whether it's a type of scheme in the run game, whether it's a protection in the pass game, just to make it a little easier."
Of course, they would have had that extra back, the fourth one, if they had simply paid Patterson.
They wouldn't have needed to search for a kick returner then, although they would have had Herbert to back up Patterson. Then they would have had a possible fourth receiver, as well.
Patterson would have been valuable now
Sure, Patterson didn't fit in with the Bears. There is no denying this.
He averaged only 3.6 yards a carry last year for 64 attempts and had 21 catches for only 6.3 yards a reception last year.
However, he went to the Falcons this year and suddenly in an offense run by coordinator Dave Ragone—yes, that Dave Ragone, as in the former Bears quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator—Patterson has run for 173 yards on 41 tries, a 4.2-yard average.
Better yet, he has suddenly become a viable receiver again from the slot, from the backfield and split out wide.
It has been since 2016 with Minnesota that Patterson has produced this consistently as a receiver. He has 25 catches in 31 targets over five games for 11.8 yards a catch. He had 32 total in 32 games for the Bears.
The Bears were backed against the cap and decided they didn't need a $5 million kick return man who struggled on offense. But Atlanta got Patterson for $3 million, of which $1.7 million was bonus. They Bears spent more than that for five players who haven't come close to reaching Patterson's production.
In lieu of Patterson, the Bears have brought in five players who have added great speed to the offense. They're all faster than Patterson, or were coming into the NFL anyway, including return man Jakeem Grant.
- Marquise Goodwin has six catches for 63 yards and cost the Bears $1.2 million.
- Damiere Byrd has three catches for 19 yards and cost the Bears $1.1 million.
- Breshad Perriman cost the Bears about $1 million and hasn't dressed for any of the five games.
- Return man Nsimba Webster was cut, and now is on the practice squad.
- And Grant who played last week and returns punts, has a groin injury now and cost the Bears $1.5 million along with a late-round 2022 draft pick.
They could have paid more than the $3 million Atlanta paid for Patterson without bringing in all those other receivers who have yet to do much of anything.
Then again, maybe Patterson doesn't have the kind of production in Chicago that he has in Atlanta because something about the offense didn't suit him here.
Patterson wasn't the greatest running back. He isn't one, really. He is the second best kick returner of all time average-wise.
But he would have been a valuable fourth back to have who could be a contributing receiver and return man while helping Herbert, who has much work ahead on Sunday as a rookie feature back facing the Bears' biggest rivals.