Am I the only one who's afraid the acquisition of Brandon Marshall may lead to an increase number of Jay Cutler interceptions? Jay can get too enamored with a player he likes, i.e. Greg Olsen. I get the feeling we'll see Jay force quite a few balls Marshall's way. Do you? -- Matt, Montreal
I think Marshall's presence should have the opposite effect. If Cutler is in a situation where he doesn't have a great option, a throw to Marshall is a safer throw than a throw to Devin Hester or Johnny Knox because of Marshall's size and ability to compete for balls. But if, as you suggest, Cutler locks onto Marshall when he has better options, that will lead to problems. I think Cutler is too smart to do that consistently.
Redskins gave up to trade up to get Robert Griffin III, how good does that deal for Jay Cutler look now? The Redskins just gave up three first-round picks and a second-round pick for a guy that hasn't played a down, that's uncertain to become anything, and may take years to develop even if he does become something. The Bears only gave up two firsts and a second for guy coming off a Pro Bowl year. I think you have to give that Cutler trade an A+. Then you look at what Denver got: A bust of a DE in Robert Ayers, a bust of a cornerback in Alphonso Smith, and a bust of a quarterback in Tim Tebow. I don't think this was even close. Maybe the most lopsided trade since the John Elway deal. -- Will Providence, Denver
Look, any time you can acquire an elite quarterback, it's usually a good deal no matter the price. But I don't see this trade as lopsided as you do. At least not yet. Maybe in a few years I'll see it differently. I think if the Bears could do the Cutler trade over again, they would in a heartbeat. And they would be justified. The potential reward was well worth the risk. The only issue in judging the trade is determining if Cutler is an elite quarterback. I'm not sure he's there yet, but he may be close. He was playing the best football of his Bears career when he broke his thumb last season. Perhaps if he had stayed healthy, he would have done enough over the rest of the season to enter into that Tom Brady-Drew Brees-Peyton Manning-Eli Manning-Aaron Rodgers-Philip Rivers zone. But Cutler has been streaky and has not produced as consistently or won as consistently as those players. And despite the fact that the Broncos haven't gotten much out of the deal, the Bears still gave up quite a bit to get Cutler. If Cutler can consistently perform the way he did for a six game stretch, though, he will justify the cost.
With the addition of Brandon Marshall added to Cutler and Matt Forte, do you see this as possibly the latest addition to the NFL triplets? I'm thinking Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. -- Sid Fernandez, Dayton, Ohio
Cutler, Marshall and Forte are a very talented trio. I wouldn't compare them to three Hall of Famers because none of the Bears has proven they are worthy of such a comparison. But I would compare them favorably to other trios in the league. The Bears' triplets have a chance to be the best triplets currently in the NFL. Other good ones include the Falcons (Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner), the Ravens (Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice) and the Texans (Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster).
If Quinton Coples begins to fall in the draft, should Chicago trade up and select him? If so what would it take for the Bears to move up five to seven selections? -- Scott Dennler, Columbus Junction, Iowa
I wouldn't move up for Coples, and I'm not even sure I would take him if he fell to me if I was picking 19th. He has top-of-the-draft talent, but Coples doesn't always play like it. NFL scouts question his motor, his passion for the game and his coachability. I think he is going to drop in the draft. To move up five to seven picks in the first round probably would not be cheap, either. It depends on how badly the trading team wants to move and if there is competition, but I would say it would probably cost a third-round pick for such a move.
Dan, how about this scenario? The Bears trade down three or four positions, draft Andre Branch and collect a later draft choice to get a receiver in the second round? -- James Hunter
I doubt they could get a second-round pick to move down three or four spots. I've gotten mixed reviews on Branch from scouts I've spoken with. They like his speed off the edge but aren't sold on his competitiveness and instincts. I'd have to see what was on the board at 19 before I committed to a move like this, but I like the way you are thinking, James.
What do you think of the Bears trading their second-round pick to the Giants for a contract-disgruntled Osi Umenyiora to beef up the pass rush? He is in the final year of his contract and feels undervalued and has been discussed as a possible camp holdout for the 2012 season. -- Steve, New Jersey
I think Umenyiora is a fine player, but I'm not crazy about the idea from the Bears' perspective. Umenyiora is 30 and needs a new contract. Trading for him would be like signing a free agent from a financial standpoint, because it would cost the same amount of money except you would lose trade compensation as well. The Bears need a 22-year-old pass rusher a lot more than they need a 30-year-old pass rusher. The defense is getting old and doesn't need another aging player. For the long-term interests of the franchise, the Bears can't afford to keep trading away draft picks, given where they are as a team.
I've noticed on quite a few mock draft boards that Alabama defensive stars Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron might still be available at the 19th pick. If they are, and given the Bears need at both safety and corner, who would you choose? -- Chris, Chandler, Arizona
Here is the problem with Kirkpatrick. He has some character issues (he was arrested for marijuana possession but no charges were filed) and did not impress some teams in his interviews. Here is the problem with Barron. He was a strong safety in college who might not be able to keep up with the slot receivers and fast tight ends in the NFL. He also is coming off surgery to repair a double sports hernia, and he has not been able to work out for scouts and answer questions about just how quick and athletic he is. All that being said, if I could live with Kirkpatrick's demeanor and character, I'd go with him. He is a 6-2 cornerback with excellent athleticism. In the NFL, I think his ceiling is higher than Barron's.
What are your thoughts on Stanford TE Coby Fleener? He seems to be the freakish athlete that teams are now looking for in the TE position. Could he be in play for the Bears at No. 19? -- Ryan, Greenville, N.C.
The Bears have not shown any interest in the type of tight end Fleener is, but that does not necessarily mean they would not consider him. The team repeatedly has expressed satisfaction with Kellen Davis, but Fleener is in a different class. If Mike Tice could figure out a way to use Fleener, I think it would make a lot of sense for the Bears to consider him depending on who is on the board.
I know the Bears did not get any compensatory picks this year, but didn't they lose a starting second-round pick, safety Danieal Manning? Wouldn't this have warranted a pick? -- Augusto De La Torre
Not necessarily. Compensatory picks are rewarded through a complicated formula that is most easily explained by saying they are determined by the difference of the contracts signed by the team and the players lost by the team, as well as by the performances of the players. At least part of the formula is subjective. So whether the Bears received a comp pick for Manning was about more than losing Manning and how much he signed for.
Steelers fans keep telling me they have six rings. Could you tell me how many championships the Bears and Packers had when the Pittsburgh team joined the league? I think the Bears have 13 total championships and the Packers 14, including the Super Bowls. -- Bob Henkels, Pittsburgh
The Bears have nine NFL championships, including their lone Super Bowl victory. That includes the 1921 championship that technically was won by the Chicago Staleys, which became the Bears. The Packers have 13 total championships. The Bears won two championships before the Steelers entered the league in 1933; the Packers won three. The Steelers didn't even make the playoffs until 1947, and they didn't win the first of their six championships until they beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IX in 1974.
Reader Q&A: Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
The Tribune's Bears columnist fields questions on Jay Cutler's reliance on Brandon Marshall, NFL draft trade options and more in his weekly mailbag.
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