Bears trade frees up cash for Cutler

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First, a shout-out to a longtime friend who just became the all-time leading receiver in Green Bay Packers history. Donald Driver arrived in Green Bay in 1999 — the same time I did — as a seventh-round pick in 1999 with little chance of making the team. Even as a receiver buried on the depth chart, Driver was special. While bigger and stronger receivers would get banged up and broken down, he endured and outlasted them all, from Antonio Freeman to Billy Schroeder to Corey Bradford to Terry Glenn to Javon Walker and more. He would constantly tell me that he would break this record, and I would politely smile. He did. I’ll have more on this unique player later in the week. Kudos to Donald….

The NFL trading deadline has spurred a deal, with the Bucs sending Gaines Adams to the Bears for a second-round pick in 2010. Although the deadline usually creates a lot of smoke and very little fire, this trade involves many interesting factors that worked toward a significant result for both teams. Let’s take a look:

The haves and have-nots

The NFL — in response to those clamoring to put some pizazz into the element of trades — has always resisted moving the deadline to later in the season. The rationale has been to avoid the pattern in Major League Baseball, where teams that are out of playoff contention can trade front-line players to contending teams for the stretch run, usually receiving prospects in return. The feeling in the NFL was to not allow teams to “play for next year.”

That theory, however, is betrayed by what’s happened early this season. More so than any time in recent memory, there appear to be a handful of teams with no chance of contending for playoff spots, even at this early stage of the season. One of those teams is the winless Bucs, who traded the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft for a player to be named later (in April 2010).

The Bears certainly hope to be playing into the postseason. They forfeited their top pick in the 2010 draft for quarterback Jay Cutler and now their second-round pick for Adams (they’ll have another day of leisure on the first day of the draft). In a change of philosophy from the formerly draft-is-king mode of Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, the future is now for the Bears.

The player

Adams, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, is not a Pro Bowl defensive end, but he had solid production for the Bucs. With 38 tackles in each of the 2007 and 2008 seasons and 12

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