The Chicago Bears’ new season got off to an ugly start with a 38-20 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers in their home opener. If the losing continues for a few more weeks, though, one prominent sports commentator believes the Bears should consider making a move for one of the hottest trade targets on the market.
During September 12’s airing of The Rich Eisen Show, Eisen honed in on the struggles the Bears experienced in the running game against the Packers in Week 1 and suggested a high-profile way for them to remedy the situation: trading for star Jonathan Taylor.
“Let’s just put them at 1-3 through four weeks. Do they go ahead, get the phone, call [Indianapolis Colts general manager] Chris Ballard and make a deal for Jonathan Taylor?” Eisen said. “Because I’ll tell you what was missing [in Week 1]. That, hit-you-in-the-mouth, let’s-bring-someone-to-Big-Ten-country [running]. I’m just wondering if that’s something to put out there if you’re 1-3. Khalil Herbert might not be it.”
Taylor is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the Colts due to an ankle injury, but a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicates that he is planning to be ready to play “as early as Week 5” during his earliest window for activation. Should that timeline hold true, trade conversations could start heating up for Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,811) and rushing touchdowns (18) in 2021 for Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, the Bears are coming off a lackluster rushing performance against the Packers in which lead back Khalil Herbert gained just 27 yards on nine total carries and free agent signing D’Onta Foreman added only 16 yards more — 11 of which came on a single run. Is that enough motivation for Chicago to pursue Taylor in a trade, though?
Does Jonathan Taylor Actually Make Sense for Bears?
The idea of the Bears adding Taylor to their backfield sounds great purely from a talent perspective, but the reality is there isn’t much sense in Chicago making that move.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles has been methodical in his roster-building approach since taking over in January 2022 and has also stayed realistic about expectations. He understands that building the Bears into a contender is not going to happen in one, or even two offseasons. He also likely knows that acquiring a talent like Taylor — even if he returns to 2021 form — is not going to move the needle enough to justify the trade cost.
Don’t forget, the cost of trading for Taylor is twofold: The Colts have been seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Taylor, who plays a position that has been significantly devalued over the past several years. Even if they lower their asking price to a Day 2 selection, the acquiring team would also have to be prepared to sign Taylor to a pricy long-term extension, which is at the core of his disagreement with the Colts.
The Bears are highly unlikely to want to do either of those things, even if they have the cap space — about $101.3 million in 2024 — to give Taylor the money that he wants.
Beyond the prices, the situation just does not make much sense for the Bears based on how they have built up the running back position over the past few months. They let David Montgomery walk in free agency, but they kept Herbert, signed Foreman and Travis Homer and drafted a rookie with one of their fourth-round picks. Sure, the Bears could package one of those backs in a trade for Taylor, but it would be quite a reversal.
Rich Eisen’s Pitch Ignores Roschon Johnson’s Presence
One of the other major reasons why the Bears are unlikely to make a trade Taylor is the presence of rookie running back Roschon Johnson, a talent whom Poles and company were elated to see fall to them in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL draft this spring.
Johnson was one of the only bright spots about the Bears’ season opener, a fact that Eisen seemed to completely ignore — or perhaps just didn’t even know — when making his suggestion for the Bears to consider trading for Taylor. Johnson rushed five times for 20 yards and a touchdown and added six receptions for 35 yards, playing most of his snaps in garbage time once the Bears’ defeat was at hand, he demonstrated a level of intensity and physicality as a downhill runner that could earn him more snaps quickly.
“I certainly like his style,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said Monday. “His style was really good, and that’s what he is. He’s a downhill, north guy, and he showed that yesterday. And he showed his physicality. He did that several times.”
Now, the Bears had a lot of problems on offense against the Packers. The game plan, which relied heavily on screens, was largely ineffective. The offensive line struggled to rise above a subpar quality of blocking both for the passing game and running game. And penalties — far too many of them — put the Bears in awful spots to begin drives. Even Taylor would have likely struggled to gain much yardage behind those efforts.
Still, Johnson was able to show flashes in his limited snaps and certainly showed enough to warrant the Bears having a conversation about giving him more playing time in their second game against the Buccaneers. It is probably too early to give up on Herbert as their No. 1 option in the backfield, but Johnson looks like he could be ready to take on a bigger share of the carries faster than expected.
Jordan J. Wilson is a sports reporter who covers the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers for Heavy.com. He has previously covered all levels of sports — high school, college and pro — for a variety of publications including The Indianapolis Star, The News-Gazette, Springfield State-Journal Register and Peoria Journal Star. More about Jordan J. Wilson