By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) “He’s not a perfect player. We like the fit. We like what he brings to us intangibly. We wanted to get better up front. He’s a seasoned player.”
That’s what former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said after he drafted Gabe Carimi out of the University of Wisconsin. Angelo was certainly right about Carimi’s imperfections, and those helped Carimi start just 16 games in his two years with the Bears. Now he’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s problem, as he was shipped to them Sunday for a sixth round draft pick. The Bears opted to do that rather than cut Carimi at a cost of $900,000.
There are now zero Angelo first round picks left in Chicago. Not a one. Stop and consider that for just a moment, and then try not to cry. It’s easy to be frustrated and angry with that fact, and Bears fans have every right to be. The drafting incompetence of his tenure that only ended less than a year and a half ago is astounding. From Dan Bazuin to Chris Williams, Cedric Benson to Michael Haynes, it’s a wonder the Bears were able to be moderately successful in the Angelo era, if three playoff appearances in eleven years is moderately successful.
Sure, there were some bright spots on draft day. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs taken in the second and third rounds respectively of the 2003 draft, for example. But with a draft résumé dominated more by Dusty Dvoraceks than Alex Browns, it’s difficult to consider the positives as anything more than luck.
And with the last of the Angelo gaffes en route to Tampa, the door finally closes on that chapter of Bears history, a history too often given inappropriate gravitas. One Super Bowl win does not a league’s cornerstone franchise make.
Perhaps we didn’t take it as enough of a warning when Angelo bungled a trade with the Baltimore Ravens in order to move up to draft Carimi who then ended up falling to the Bears anyway. Quite the microcosm in hindsight. That and drafting a tackle that ended up being a guard. A guard that didn’t want to show up to OTAs this year.
“I think it’s probably pretty important to be right now just with all the new faces around and the new offense especially,” said running back Matt Forte about Carimi’s absence in May. “Like I said in the meetings, we’re not going over the same stuff. We’re going over new stuff every day just to be exposed to new stuff and get ready for training camp.”
Yeah, but Carimi was so good he didn’t need to get acclimated to a new staff, right? Well, now he can get acclimated to a new city, too.
And as the pettiness of skipping voluntary-but-actually-mandatory workouts goes away, so finally does the specter of Angelo’s drafting insufficiencies. While general manager Phil Emery will have to suffer through the holes his predecessor left via poor picking—the Carimi trade being a prime example—at least the raspy voice at April press conferences talking about how much we’re going to like Jarron Gilbert is but barely a fading echo.
We have yet to accurately determine Emery’s prowess in a war room or lack thereof. But as the Carimi trade (which netted more value than I would have guessed) caps a head-scratchingly odd era of Bears front office work, at least we know in that regard there’s nowhere to go but up.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.