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Buccaneers Should Keep an Eye on Bears and Forte

Justin Pawlowski - The Commish
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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The Buccaneers hold an intriguing pick in this draft with the 5th overall selection.  Their pick isn’t gaining as much publicity as the Vikings (3rd) or the Browns (4th), but the Bucs have been linked to Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne for a while now.  Mark Dominik has also expressed an interest in trading down.

By sitting with the 5th overall selection, the Buccaneers are guaranteed one of the top five players in this draft, all of which are considered elite prospects.  To trade out of the 5th pick, Mark Dominik would have to get an awfully impressive package that would either include a massive amount of picks or specific players that would help the Buccaneers immediately.

While both Matt Forte and Ray Rice received their team’s respective franchise tags, I believe Rice will be staying put in Baltimore, while Forte’s status is extremely up in the air.

Matt Forte has expressed that he will not be signing and/or playing for a one-year franchise tender that comes with the Bears franchise tag.  The only way he gets on the field is with a new long-term contract.  The Bears have said that they have given him their best offer and will wait until Forte decides to sign it.

“The word is that he’s not going to be [there], but that’s just rumors,” Jay Cutler said on WMVP Radio, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know it’s going to be hard for Matt to not be there. I think he’s pretty disappointed at how things have gone. But it’s a business for both sides. The Bears have to do what’s best for them in the long run. Matt has to do what’s best for him in the long run.”

The Bears recently signed former Raiders running back Michael Bush with the intentions of having him split carries with Matt Forte.  However, head coach Lovie Smith said the team will play with the players that want to play.

“I tell the guys, if you have an issue with your contract, [the offseason] is the time to work on those things. That’s what Matt is going through right now,” Smith said before a luncheon on Tuesday. “We start up Monday. Hopefully he’ll be there. If he’s not, we’re going to go to work with the players we have.”

Since the Bears have Michael Bush on the roster, it is possible, and all speculation on my part, that they would consider a trade of Matt Forte if they got proper value in return.  If the Bears included Forte and a 3rd round selection, the Buccaneers should consider a swap of 1st round selections, giving the Bears the 5th overall pick and dropping back to the Bears pick at 19.

With the 5th overall selection, the Bears could address receiver or cornerback, while already having a fresh and energized Michael Bush on their roster.

The Buccaneers could then focus on a number of possibilities with the 19th pick while already acquiring Matt Forte and an extra 3rd round selection.  Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, or a defensive lineman could all make sense for the Buccaneers with the 19th selection, while also not having to worry about drafting a running back with their 2nd or 3rd round selections.

It is the time of speculation, and as long as we see issues with Matt Forte in Chicago, I think it would be safe to assume that the Bears would be interested in moving him for the right price.  I don’t think there are many scenarios that would make a trade down by the Buccaneers seem like a good move, but something like this would make a ton of sense.

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