While many Bear fans are still in a tizzy about the team's major splash in free agency last Friday, there is still one major issue lurking around Halas Hall, and that is the future of Tight End Greg Olsen.
Lots of trade buzz has been circulating recently about Olsen, who isn't exactly an ideal fit in the traditional scheme of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
Despite the recent signings of Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna, the Bears are still a ways away from being a championship contender, and having already traded away both their first- and second-round picks in 2010, a good value deal may make sense.
But is dealing the former first-round pick, who will only be 25 by the beginning of next season, really a smart move for a team who is already criticized for its lack of weapons on the offensive side of the ball?
Especially when that team desperately needs to see success from its "franchise" quarterback.
There are quality arguments to make on both sides of the issue, and even though many of you are likely smart enough to decipher them yourself, I have an unfulfilling life and access to a site which allows me to "articulately" share my own beliefs on the matter.
So in that spirit, here are the pros and cons of what an Olsen trade may mean for the Bears:
The Bears Need Draft Picks:
Peppers, Taylor and Manumaleuna were all quality signings. That said, the Bears still have a lot of weaknesses, most notably on the offensive line and in the secondary, which need to be addressed.
If a quality pick is available, perhaps a second rounder, this could be an enticing offer, as a young player who could make an immediate impact (let's face it, no one will be heart broken if names like Omiyale and Aflava don't make it onto the starting roster) would be a very welcome addition.
The "System" Argument:
The major reason the trade rumors started was because of Martz's belief that a Tight End should be a blocker first, receiver second. This of course doesn't suit Olsen who can't throw a decent block to save his life.
Naturally, if there is no possibility of carving out an effective role for Olsen in the offense, there is no reason not to try deal him in order to find a player who can be of service both next year and beyond.
While Olsen has show flashes of the brilliance the organization hoped for when they used a first round pick on him in 2007, his production has been anything but steady.
For all the good moments (three TD's against Arizona last season,three clutch TD's catches in the final four games of '08), there has been just as many ineffective ones (the combined 5 catches for 21 yards in weeks 13-15 last year, his disastrous two-fumble effort at Carolina in week two of '08).
Perhaps if he had exhibited more consistent play, Martz would be fully cooperative in working Olsen into the offense next season, and this entire subject would never have been broached.
The Need For Offensive Weapons:
While the Bears young receiving corps was heavily maligned last season, young players like Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett showed a great deal of promise to make optimistic fans believe they could mature into formidable NFL receivers.
But while there is a good deal of promise on the roster, Jay Cutler is still a ways away from having an elite unit of weapons.
Thrown in the rumors of Devin Hester's offensive reduction and my firm belief that Lovie Smith will do what he does best by wasting the obvious promise of Devin Aromashodu, finding a role for Greg Olsen may prove to be necessary.
And seeing as how Martz has only coached one tight end with Olsen's playmaking skill set (more on him later), it may benefit all parties to find a way to co-exist.
The Grass Is Always (Considerably) Greener
In recent years, the best way to boost your productivity in the NFL has been to leave the Bears for another team.
Be it a transition from worthless to slightly below average (Justin Gage), average to good (Chris Harris) or selfish, drunken, narcissistic bastard to bona fide NFL rushing champion contender (you know who), Bear fans have had to watch in disgust as player after player has reached new levels of success with different franchises.
Of all the players mentioned above, Olsen achieved the greatest level of success in a Bear uniform. If he manages to take his game to the next level with another team, it could be a tough pill for Chicago to swallow.
No matter how excited you are about the implementing of Martz's offense in Chicago, even the most optimistic of fans are fully aware this move has the potential to be truly disastrous (picture Detroit and San Francisco and throw in a notoriously difficult QB).
If this experiment proves to be a one-and-done debacle, trading away a valuable offensive commodity could make things even worse.
To see the potential corrosive element, one needs to look no further than the previous tight end in Martz's system, San Francisco's Vernon Davis.
After two inconsistent but ultimately promising seasons in '06 and '07, Davis made nearly zero impact as a receiver in his one year under Martz, catching just 31 passes for 358 yards and two scores.
After being widely hailed as a bust, Davis finally reached his potential last season, as he exploded for 78 catches, 965 yards and a league leading 13 touchdown receptions under coordinator Jimmy Raye.
San Fransisco got lucky, as Davis, a beastly blocker, was still serviceable in Martz's scheme. If this doesn't prove true of Olsen, dumping him could be debilitating if Martz's recent string of failed coordinator gigs continues. It's hard to think there is absolutely no way to work a playmaker like Olsen into the mix. I mean, Dallas Clark is no one's idea of a bone-crushing blocker, but it's hard to envision any offense not benefiting from his talent, no?
So with all the possibilities, what exactly should be done with Olsen? Well, at this point, I can honestly say (despite the noticeably longer "Cons" section) I have no idea.
The Bears still do need a good deal of help without the proper draft picks to fix them. And while Olsen can possibly help attract said picks, trading him could also explode in the franchises face.
If a good deal is out there, I'd say Jerry Angelo and co. should seriously consider it. However, before anything is done, I think a serious conversation needs to take place with all parties to make sure there is no way for Martz to work Olsen into his scheme.
Watching Olsen put up '09 Vernon Davis-like numbers for another team could be a crushing blow for fans who have already felt the sting of countless wasted draft picks in recent years. Especially if the guy who sent him packing ends up exiting on the very next train.