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Marcus Mariota's Agency Has Told Others The Bears Are 'Very Interested'

(CBS) The behind-the-scenes game between agents and front offices is well underway with the NFL Draft set to begin April 30.

As it pertains to the Bears and their No. 7 overall pick, ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio shared an interesting nugget during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.

The Bears have their eye on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, according to ... wait for it ... Mariota's agency, Rep1 Sports, which is run by cousins Bruce and Ryan Tollner.

"First and foremost, Tampa Bay is one," Paolantonio said in the radio interview when asked what teams are interested in Mariota. "Tennessee is two. New York Jets is three (at No. 6 overall). This is according to Tollner, and they've obviously studied this because they got Mariota and they had to make this presentation to the young man before they got to be his agent. St. Louis, obviously. Then he dropped three teams on me in a row, one of which was not surprising -- Philadelphia. And then Houston and then Chicago. I said, 'Chicago, really? They have (Jay) Cutler.' He said, 'Absolutely Chicago. I've heard from Chicago quite a bit. They're very interested in Mariota.'"

So, what to make of it? That's the million-dollar question.

The Bears are in dire need of help on the defensive side of the ball, but with Jay Cutler not playing up to his big-money contract and the NFL as pass-happy as ever, they have to keep a watch out for their quarterback of the future as well.

From the agency's perspective, it's always beneficial to have a client in high demand. If that means stretching the truth, well, that's what agents are paid to do -- get their client as much money as possible.

"I think smoke screen more than anything else," Bears beat writer Dan Durkin said Thursday morning in an interview on 670 The Score. "I think (they're) drumming up interest ... to entice a team like the Rams (at No. 10) to trade up.

"When I look at Mariota, I don't see the fit for the Bears.

"He played in a system where a lot of the decisions were made before the ball was snapped ... (and) I'm not sure his arm strength would hold up in (windy) Chicago."

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