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How Illinois Workers Comp. Bill Will Affect The Bears If It Passes

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How Illinois Workers Comp. Bill Will Affect The Bears If It Passes

If it passes through the state senate, a new Illinois workers comp. bill will deny workers comp. to all injured workers in the state aged 35 or older, which includes pro athletes.  The McCaskey family–owners of the Bears–are reportedly pushing the bill, saying that the other four major Chicago sports teams are also supporting it.  The bill is being sponsored by senate Republican minority leader Christine Radogno.

The bill is highly controversial in the professional sports world.  NFLPA Director DeMaurice Smith has stated that if the bill passes, they will be recommending to free agents that they don’t sign with the Bears.  Smith told WSCR,

“I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears.”  He also told the Spiegel & Parkins Show, “This bill being sponsored by Ms. Radogno is simply designed to target professional athletes, and take away their right to health care that every worker in the state of Illinois is entitled to.”

Smith is clearly very against the bill and the Bears’ support of it, as he believes the state and Chicago sports franchises are simply trying to reduce expenses in a cheap way, which is a fair point to make.

However, Smith is overreacting to the bill drastically.  Not only has it not yet been passed, but saying that no free agent should sign with Chicago is a over-dramatization to the extreme.  Older players could simply sign a shorter contract with Chicago that would end before they turn 35, and younger players shouldn’t be affected by the bill at all.  However, Smith still sees the bill as such an insult to professional athletes that they should take a stand against Chicago.

For a team looking to stock up a depleted roster in free agency, this could be immeasurably detrimental.  Assuming the bill does pass, Smith keeps his word, and free agents refuse to sign with Chicago unless they’re given a boatload of money, the Bears will be in big trouble.  Their entire roster rebuild will have to come purely through the draft until the bill is repealed, and who knows when that would happen.  Certainly they’d have to go at least this offseason without FA.  While the Bears could just take a sheet out of the Packers’ rebuild plans year-to-year and focus on building through the draft, the Bears are scheduled to have one of the largest budgets in FA this year and it would be a waste of time to not spend it.  Sadly, they may not have a choice.

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If the Bears can’t use free agency at all this offseason, which is absolutely ridiculous if that happens, look for them to target either Deshaun Watson or Jamal Adams in the first round of the draft, cornerback in the second round, OT in the third, corner/DE/O-Line throughout the rest of the draft.  However, I think the whole situation strengthens my case for not targeting a QB this year.  If the Bears can’t build through free agency anyway for the mean time, they might as well build for the long run and focus on improving the whole team this year and snag a QB next offseason.

However, rumor has it the Bears really want Jimmy Garoppolo, which I am even more against than Deshaun Watson, so it will be interesting to see if Chicago still tries to rush the solution to the QB situation.  All we know as a fact is that DeMaurice Smith is strongly against the bill and that if it passes, Chicago will struggle mightily to rebuild their team with no presence in free agency.