LAKE FOREST – For once, the Bears don’t have a lot of roster questions as the free agent period gets ready to open next Wednesday. But there are exceptions to this for the Bears in 2019, and it starts in their backfield.
Following a career-low in both carries and yards, many wondered if Jordan Howard would be dealt before the 2019 season, the last one on his current contract. Some of those thoughts gained some steam on Thursday thanks to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Multiple teams approached the Chicago Bears at the combine last week and discussed a potential trade for RB Jordan Howard, per league sources. Discussions ongoing.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 7, 2019
He reported that teams reached out to the Bears about Howard’s availability during the NFL Combine last week in Indianapolis, and that discussions for a trade remain ongoing.
Despite rushing for 1,313 yards in his rookie year of 2016 (2nd in the NFL) and then 1,122 yards in 2017, the future of Howard seemed to be in doubt once Matt Nagy took over as head coach. In his offense, running backs are not used in the traditional rushing mode, with the backs often catching short passes out of the backfield. Despite his success rushing, Howard struggled at times catching the ball, dropping 14 passes in 2016 and 2017.
Yet despite dropping just one pass in 2018, Howard saw a production drop across the board in 2018. His 20 catches were a career-low as he gained 145 yards on receptions, but his drop in rushing is the one thing that concerned most people. Howard had 935 yards on 250 carries – two lower than his rookie year of 2016 and 26 less than his second season – with a career-low average of 3.7.
He did gain over 100 yards twice on the season (101 vs Rams on December 9th, 109 vs Vikings December 30th), but also games of 25, 21, and 13 as well.
The new NFL year starts this Wednesday at 3 PM, and plenty of reports should fly between now and then. You can expect Howard will be part of some of those as the Bears decided whether to keep or trade the running back before the 2019 season.