Mar 23, 2022 - Sports

Sports franchises enter rebuilding phase

Photo of two men holding a football helmet.
Bears new head coach Matt Eberflus (left) and new general manager Ryan Poles after being introduced at Halas Hall on Jan. 31, 2022. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

The NFL's recent free agency frenzy has made for one of the most exciting off-seasons in decades.

  • Too bad the Bears have missed out.

Why it matters: The lack of big signings at crucial positions signals the Bears will join the Cubs and Blackhawks in rebuilding instead of competing in 2022.

For the first time in years, three of Chicago's major sports franchises will be rebuilding at the same time:

⚾ The Cubs traded away their World Series core to restock the farm system and are now going into spring training without proven players at several positions.

🏑 The Blackhawks waved the white flag at the trade deadline, shipping three stars to contenders for prospects.

🏈 The Bears used free agency to bring in several young players on short contracts while trading and releasing big stars to replace them with cheaper alternatives.

Context: Ever since Theo Epstein turned the Cubs into World Series winners, Chicago has accepted rebuilds as part of the deal. Even if it means fielding non-competitive losing teams.

What they're saying: "I think fans are far more intelligent and understanding about the process," Matt Spiegel of The Score's Parkins & Spiegel tells Axios. "Fans are more familiar with the life cycle of a winning franchise, and will at least be open to the conversations more than they used to be."

The intrigue: The White Sox and Bulls both just came off a long rebuild. But for other major sports, will fans stick around?

  • "Blackhawks and Bears fans have no such past experience to lean on," Spiegel says. "They're both hurting and losing patience, at different rates. The NFL should never see a multiple-season rebuild … the league doesn't work like that."

💭 Justin's thought bubble: It's hard to be a sports fan in Chicago right now. But maybe rebuilding is in our blood. Heck, we rebuilt a whole city.

  • So maybe I can sit through a couple of years of lousy Sundays. 😡

🏀 What's next: Thank God for the Sky. The WNBA season begins in May.

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