What Is the Bears' Plan for Protecting Jay Cutler Post-Gabe Carimi Trade?

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJune 10, 2013

Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears offensive tackle Gabe Carimi (72) and Cory Brandon (76) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears have allowed 93 sacks over the last two seasons, and they just traded away Gabe Carimi, who started 14 combined games at right tackle and right guard a season ago. 

Poor Jay Cutler, right?

Actually, after two years of significantly underwhelming play at offensive tackle, there aren't many who can blame the new Bears regime for washing their hands of the former Wisconsin Badgers standout. 

Sure, a former first-round selection not making it to year-three is a blatant disappointment, but when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling and were willing to surrender a sixth-round pick, Chicago was, probably astutely, quick to pull the trade trigger on a guy who may have been cut this summer. 

Let's look at what made the decision so easy and explore what's next for Cutler and Marc Trestman's offense.


Carimi's Struggles 

Carimi had an odd 2012 season after a flop of a rookie campaign in 2011. He started 12 games at right tackle and two at right guard, and he couldn't get comfortable in either position. 

Here's how ProFootballFocus (subscription required) graded him in his sophomore season: 

Carimi fared better inside at guard—as most offensive tackles do—but he didn't show any stretches of legitimately dominant play that could be seen as encouraging heading into 2013. Yikes. 

Clearly, the Bears weren't happy with what he did on the right side, and that's why Kyle Long was drafted in Round 1. 

The Long pick was a clear indication that Carimi had to improve his play to get on the field with any regularity, and that he was in jeopardy of being cut or traded this prior to the regular season. 


The Plan 

Long is the future at the right guard spot, and he may have a future at right tackle. He's a bit raw coming out of Oregon, but he possesses all the physical abilities to be dominant on the right side. 

Jermon Bushrod was added in free agency, and although some believed his five-year, $35.9 million contract with $22.4 million guaranteed was a classic overpayment, he did hold down the New Orleans Saints left tackle position fairly well and is definitely an upgrade over J'Marcus Webb, who was often victimized protecting Cutler's blindside in 2011 and 2012. 

Bushrod at left tackle and Webb at right tackle is a much more comforting edge-protecting duo than Webb and Carimi, so Cutler and Bears fans alike should breathe a collective sigh of relief. 

Trestman is a renowned quarterback guru, therefore it's hard to imagine him not placing a major emphasis on protecting Cutler in his debut season as an NFL coach. 

Matt Forte will likely be a key piece to the offensive attack, and expect Alshon Jeffery to be relied upon more often to keep double teams away from Brandon Marshall, who quietly pieced together his finest season in 2012 at 28 years old. 

Remember, too, there will be an assortment of veterans cut before, during or after training camp, so if Chicago deems it must have more offensive line depth, it will be able to sign a journeyman guard or two before Week 1. 

Cutting ties with a former first-round pick after two seasons is never good, but Phil Emery had no connection to Carimi, and he simply was a liability who was stunting the continued development of Cutler. 

The Bears drafted as if Carimi wouldn't be on the field in 2013 anyway, and they received a late-round draft pick for him. 

With Trestman's offensive genius and the new additions of Bushrod and Long, as well as Webb at a new position, the Bears appear to be more stout up front than they've been in a while.