CHICAGO – First-round draft pick Gabe Carimi arrived to Halas Hall in the spring of 2011 with his focus set on a long, productive career on the Bears’ offensive line.
Two seasons and 16 starts later, Carimi is somebody else’s project.
The Bears agreed to trade Carimi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, two days before the team begins its full squad minicamp. The deal, which is contingent upon Carimi passing a physical, reportedly will cost Tampa Bay a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Although the timing of the trade was a bit of a surprise, Carimi’s future with the Bears seemed murky for the past several months. The one-time starter at right tackle had been relegated to a backup guard role for the Bears, who pushed him further down the depth chart by selecting Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long in the first round this April.
Last month, Carimi decided to stay in Arizona to train rather than participate in the Bears’ organized team activities. Carimi’s absence did little to help his standing with a new coaching staff led by Canadian Football League import Marc Trestman, and some veteran teammates wondered aloud whether he was making the right choice.
“I don’t play his position,” Bears running back Matt Forte told a group of reporters during organized team activities in mid-May, “but I think it’s probably pretty important to be here right now, just with all the new faces around, and the new offense, especially.”
Injuries and inconsistency plagued Carimi during his brief tenure on the lakefront. He injured his knee in Week 2 as a rookie and after failed to return after a series of setbacks. Last season, Carimi lost his starting job at right tackle but returned to the starting lineup as a first-time guard after injuries to Lance Louis and Chris Spencer.
Minus Jerry Angelo, who drafted Carimi with the No. 29 overall pick out of Wisconsin, and Mike Tice, who recommended that the Bears draft the lineman, Carimi was out of advocates. He marked the final first-rounder of Angelo’s tenure as general manager, which included other busts and underachievers such as Chris Williams (2008), Cedric Benson (2005), Michael Haynes (2003) and Marc Colombo (2002).