Something happened in the NFL this weekend. I mean bona fide news, not an update on where Tim Tebow wasn't playing. There was a trade. The Chicago Bears shipped offensive lineman Gabe Carimi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a sixth-round pick.
Let that sink in for a minute: Gabe Carimi is relevant for a day.
Carimi was Chicago's first-round pick in 2011, drafted 29th overall. He was part of an offensive line that made Jay Cutler a favorite punching bag for Clay Matthews over the years.
The Carimi deal is one more purge in ridding Chicago of Jerry Angelo's legacy there. Now, there are no players on the roster drafted in the first round during Angelo's tenure, from 2001 through 2011. Carimi was the last of an illustrious fraternity that includes Michael Haynes and Rex Grossman.
Angelo's record in the first round puts him in company with some of the league's worst general managers, the trash heap of history with the likes of Gene Smith. His real legacy is something the Bears will have to deal with this season and beyond.
During Angelo's time with a key to the executive washroom, the Bears finished with double-digit wins in four seasons, winning a division title each time. That includes an NFC Championship in 2006. Angelo's Bears finished third in the division five times and in dead last once, an ugly 2004.
(Trivia break: Craig Krenzel was Chicago's best quarterback in 2004, one of four signal callers that started for the Bears that season).
Angelo acquired most of the cornerstone players that have kept the Bears competitive off and on over the last decade. Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, and Matt Forte are all cornerstone players plucked out of the middle rounds during that span. His defining moment as a GM was a 2009 trade with Denver that brought Jay Cutler to Chicago.
The Bears would now be in year two of a rebuilding project, by the usual accounting. For as disappointing as the Bears' 2012 season was, rebuilding teams usually lack franchise quarterbacks (even obnoxious ones) and double-digit wins. Age is working against most of Chicago's superstars, Angelo's players, but they still give new GM Phil Emery and first-year head coach Marc Trestman a healthy nucleus for the season ahead.
The popular refrain over the last 24 hours has been to label the Carimi deal as severing the last tie with Angelo. It's not. Carimi was part of Angelo's inability to find adequate protection for his quarterback. The Bears may finally have improved the situation this season with a smattering of new faces, including free agent prize Jermon Bushrod installed on the blind side. Just in time for Cutler's walk year.
Phil Emery showed a necessary lack of sentimentality this spring, parting ways with franchise icon Brian Urlacher (who predated Angelo's administration). He has his work cut out for him over the next year. Julius Peppers is 33, and has three years and more than $40 million left on his deal. Tillman, also in a walk year, is 32. Cutler just turned 30.
Trading away a failed offensive line prospect at least closes the most frustrating chapter of Angelo's reign in Chicago. His legacy remains. Now, Chicago's and Emery's long-term success hinges on how the new guy deals with the holdovers from a previous era.
Mark Davis opened up over the weekend about firing his public relations director and Amy Trask's sudden resignation last month. His motivations are simple. The son of Al told the Mercury News that he doesn't want us mocking the proud legacy of his late father or the football team his mother lets him manage. Bowl haircut jokes roll right off his white denim.
Basically, Davis wants a media blackout. Poor draft picks, less than sensible contracts and a costly stadium situation with no workable solution on the horizon define the Raiders. Davis and his hand-picked general manager, Reggie McKenzie, want to change all that, which amounts to rewiring the team's DNA. It's a monstrous task.
From the outside, it doesn't look like the younger Davis' Raiders are going to be much different than his old man's team. But he did manage to throw out a CEO-sounding talking point that at least rhetorically distances him from dad:
"Like I've said before: I still know what I don't know. But I've been around long enough to pick up a few things. What I really want to do is simple: find good people, give them goals and let them go to work."
Finding good people also means keeping the ones you have.
Tomorrow's News Today
Guess what? The Jets haven't decided on a starting quarterback yet. Of course they haven't; it's June. Few, if any, position battles are settled in spring OTAs.
These annual exercise sessions never used to command this much attention. Early offseason practices were mostly just a chance for new players to mix with the old, brush up on the playbook and get one last round of attention from the coaches before summer break. But this is the new NFL, where the Gabe Carimi trade gets 500 words (guilty) and backup quarterbacks command year-round attention.
Oh, and it's the Jets.
I can already tell you, on June 10, what the biggest story in August will be: the battle between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Which one will be under center when Rex Ryan goes down with the ship this season? It doesn't matter because we'll have the pleasure of hearing all about an underwhelming team's so-so quarterbacks in excruciating detail for months.
At least Tim Tebow isn't there anymore.
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