When former first-round pick Gabe Carimi neglected to participate in the Bears' off-season program and then skipped minicamp and organized team activities, there was speculation he was hoping to force a trade.
If that was the case, Carimi got his wish Sunday, when he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pending his passing a physical Monday. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bears will receive a sixth-round pick in 2014, a major depreciation in just over two years.
But it had become clear that Carimi was not going to be part of the Bears' offensive line going forward, even though coach Marc Trestman said he would be "welcomed with open arms," if he attended this week's mandatory minicamp.
The earlier off-season programs were voluntary in name only, especially with a new head coach and staff. Carimi chose to work out in Arizona under the direction of former NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley The 29th overall pick in the 2011 draft battled knee injuries and was a flop at right tackle and right guard, playing himself out of starting jobs at both positions.
Carimi was drafted as a right tackle and started the first two games of his rookie season there before a knee injury ended his season. Prior to that, then-offensive line coach Mike Tice called him the team's best run-blocking offensive lineman.
Carimi returned from the injury to start the first 10 games of last season at right tackle. But he struggled, especially in pass protection and was benched in favor of journeyman Jonathan Scott. When right guard Lance Louis suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee in Game 11, Carimi was plugged in at that spot -- but in three starts, he didn't perform any better than he had at right tackle. He was replaced by Chris Spencer for the final two games.
The Bears signed Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod and three-year starting left guard Matt Slauson during free agency in March, and Trestman said he considered Carimi a guard. Then the Bears drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round and tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth round in April.
During organized team activities, which concluded last Thursday, J'Marcus Webb, the inconsistent starting left tackle the past two seasons, lined up at right tackle with the first team. He must hold off Scott for the starting job.
Long is expected to win the starting job at right guard from James Brown, where Carimi would also have been competing.
In Tampa, Carimi will probably begin playing behind 2009 undrafted free-agent Demar Dotson, a 15-game starter at right tackle last season. The Bucs signed Dotson to a four-year, $7.5 million contract in late March. But Carimi could challenge for a starting job if he ever returns to the form he showed early in his NFL career.
The Bears apparently don't think he will.
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