Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms knows a thing or two about free agency.
No, he wasn’t the most highly sought-after quarterback, but having gone through the process allows for unique perspective. With that in mind, Simms played free agent matchmaker, based on player and team fit, as well as cap space. Top players projected to return to their respective teams were left out of this particular discussion, which allows us to dive into the world of free agent possibilities.
The Bears needs in the defensive secondary are numerous. Add to that the fact they will face a tough schedule of quarterbacks in 2017, and it is clear that Vic Fangio’s defense has its work cut out for it in the upcoming season.
Fear not, because Simms has a free agent addition that could be part of the solution. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore is described by Simms as a “scheme-diverse and veteran enough to understand all the coverages Fangio loves to run.” Plus he has enough speed to cover the kind of vertical passes that wrecked the Bears secondary in 2016. Opposing quarterbacks posted the 12th lowest passer rating against the Bills defense in 2016, while quarterbacks facing the Bears posted the 10th best rating.
According to Pro Football Focus, Gilmore (73.2) was the 61st rated cornerback in 2016, but graded out with an 82.2 in 2015. Among Bears cornerbacks last season, only Cre’Von LeBlanc (73.4) had a better PFF grade than Gilmore.
While the Bears would be adding to their pass defense if they went with Simms’ suggestion, the team’s passing offense would lose a key member.
Based on Simms’ observations, it might be safe to suggest there might not be a better offseason fit than Alshon Jeffery and the Tennessee Titans. Simms writes that Jeffery is everything head coach Mike Mularkey looks for in a receiver. When healthy, Jeffery is a productive two-way receiver, in that he is a willing (and productive) blocker in the run game.
Receivers who can block are necessary for a team like the Titans, with a true commitment to running the ball with DeMarco Murray and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. Further, Jeffery’s ability to make plays down the field using his size, frame, and hands is an added bonus for third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota.
There are arguments to be made for many other players on this list to be a Bears target this offseason, which says a lot about the team’s needs. Give it a look, and dream on the possibilities, what with the Bears’ ample cap space.