Hoge’s Notes: Colts’ Pagano ‘Hates’ Losing Jerrell Freeman

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(WGN Radio)

BOCA RATON, Fla. — While other coaches were downplaying losing players in free agency — and others, like Bill Belichick were outright refusing to talk about free agency — Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was clearly bummed Tuesday about losing inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman to the Bears.

“Hate losing Jerrell,” Pagano said at the NFL Annual Meeting. “He’s good football player. He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s instinctive. He’s a sideline-to-sideline guy. Can play all three downs. He’s a good cover backer and he’s a downhill guy who can make plays.”

That scouting report is exactly why the Bears signed Freeman — a four year starter for the Colts — to a three-year, $12 million contract. They simply did not have an inside linebacker like that last year. Now the Bears have two, as they’ll pair Freeman with Danny Trevathan, who they signed from the Broncos.

Bowles Doesn’t Care About Forte’s Age

While the Bears ultimately decided running back Matt Forte’s age was too big of a risk, the New York Jets disagree.

“We don’t look at age,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday morning at the NFL Annual Meeting. “I think (Forte) pretty much keeps himself in shape. So we look at him like he was playing four or five years ago.”

The Jets signed Forte to a three-year, $12 million contract earlier this month, with $9 million guaranteed, a gesture that backs up Bowles’ comments. Forte turned 30 in December and Bears general manager Ryan Pace decided not to offer him a contract.

Bowles, meanwhile, has big plans for Forte. He views Forte as a three-down back and loves his receiving ability and character in the locker room.

Belichick Doesn’t Have Much To Say About Bennett, McClellin

Patriots head coach Bill Belchick plucked two players away from the Bears last week, but he didn’t have much to say about either tight end Martellus Bennett or linebacker Shea McClellin Tuesday.

“We’re happy to add all the players we’ve added to our team,” he said when asked about Bennett. “We’ll put him out there and see how it goes.”

Belichick had the exact same response about McClellin and when asked if he went back to look at McClellin’s Boise State tape before signing him, Belichick said:

“I mean, we take everything into consideration when we evaluate players. I don’t know. Everything is a factor.”

All of this, of course, happened after Belichick showed up nearly 30 minutes late and shoved all of the recorders on the table away from him.

Harbaugh Expecting Big Things From Trestman’s Offense

While the Baltimore Ravens only ranked 14th in total offense and 25th in points per game last season, head coach John Harbaugh has high hopes for his offense as it heads into Year 2 under former Bears head coach Marc Trestman.

“He’s very smart,” Harbaugh said about Trestman. “I’ve been around the game a long time. Been associated with the West Coast Offense for years. I love that part of it. And I just love the way his mind works. I’m really excited about what we’re building this year with our offense.”

Historically, Trestman’s offenses have struggled in his second year with a team, but he’s also had plenty of bad luck along the way under head coaches who were about to be fired. There’s also a major outlier in this trend — the 2002 Oakland Raiders, which reached the Super Bowl with Trestman’s No. 1 ranked offense.

But no matter what happens with Trestman in his second season in Baltimore, it’s obvious Harbaugh’s opinion of the guy isn’t affected at all by his short-lived tenure in Chicago.

“The thing about Marc Trestman is, first of all, he’s really a good-hearted guy who really cares about football — really cares about fellow coaches, really cares about his players. And really is conscientious about wanting to do a great job,” Harbaugh said.

Bowles Likes Jenkins

Forte wasn’t the only former Bear to sign with the Jets as defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins landed in New York on a two-year, $7 million contract.

“From what we saw on tape, we signed him for his natural ability,” Bowles said. “He was good enough for us to sign from what we saw on film —  the versatility he shows and the inside pass rush he shows.”

Bowles got even more specific on his scouting report of Jenkins:

“Athletic. Very athletic. Very good inside pass rusher. Has power. Can play outside. Can hold up in the run. And he did a lot of things up and down the line of scrimmage. His versatility was very good.”

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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