The “legal tampering” period continues, while the rumor mill remains spinning as we approach Thursday’s opening of the free agent signing period, and the NFL’s new league year.
However, it’s worth repeating that activity in the free agent market doesn’t always equal success. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago lays out the details of the Bears’ offseason activity in recent years, which has yet to translate to wins. Over the last three years, the team ranks first in total signings (55) and fifth in total contract value (more than $301 million), but the 14-34 record averages out to 4.67 wins and 11.33 losses.
That is some unfortunate math across the board. Hopefully, the team fares better with its future expenditures, starting with the 2017 free agent class.
- Adam Jahns takes a big picture look at free agency through the prism of the Bears offense. The big storylines here are what happens at quarterback (with Mike Glennon taking center stage) and with Alshon Jeffery – more on him in a moment. Jahns provides some rumor mill fodder with free agency rapidly approaching, suggesting receivers Kenny Stills (whom the Bears tried to trade for previously), Cordarelle Patterson (an earlier rumored target) and Andre Holmes (who also has interest from the 49ers, Raiders, and Lions) are worth watching, as are tight end Dion Sims, and right tackle Ricky Wagner.
- For what it’s worth, it seems as if Jeffery knows what he wants moving forward. He makes it clear in Adam Schefter’s podcast he wants to win, adding “I’d love to win a championship in the city of Chicago” as he attempts to double-down on his end-of-season Super Bowl guarantee. He would also like to go to a place with a stable quarterback situation. Unfortunately, the Bears don’t seem to be in a championship window and the future at quarterback is far from settled now.
- When the Bears were settled at quarterback, Jay Cutler was their man and Jeffery was often the recipient of Cutler’s most successful pass attempts. If you enjoyed the Cutler-Jeffery connection, it’s apparent those days are coming to an end in one way or another:
Stacey Dales, hand on the pulse of Chicago, says on NFL Net, source tells her "no chance" Cutler returns to Chicago.
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) March 7, 2017
- John Clayton reports that the Bills are preparing to let Tyrod Taylor hit the free agent market, joining a not-so-great class in a world where there are more openings than there are able bodies to fill them. However, Clayton sends Taylor to the Browns, and not the Bears. However, Clayton adds that it shouldn’t be a surprise if Jeffery remains in Chicago. The Eagles, Titans, and Buccaneers each have a need for receiver – but so do the Bears. And if Jeffery doesn’t get the kind of megadeal he seeks on the open market, the Bears could re-sign Jeffery at their price – which still projects to be somewhere between $12-$14 million annually.
- Jimmy Garoppolo projects to be a starting quarterback sometime in the near future, and there is a dream scenario in which the Browns land Garoppolo and NFL Combine stud and Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports it might take a first-round pick in 2017 and 2018 to land Garoppolo. If any quarterback needy team is in a position to make such a move, it’s the Browns, who could send the No. 12 pick in April’s draft as part of the deal. Remember when Garoppolo was “far and away” the Bears’ top priority this offseason? Seems like a distant memory at this point.
- The Tony Romo market will take shape soon, and it looks like the Kansas City Chiefs can be crossed off the list. NFL Network national reporter James Palmer reports quarterback Alex Smith has the support of Kansas City’s ownership and head coach Andy Reid. Palmer adds the Chiefs don’t have an interest in the Cowboys quarterback. Romo had been a rumored fit for the Bears, but those rumors have cooled as it appears he won’t be anything more than a superficial fit.
- While the Bears seem to be hot on the trail of Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, another cornerback could be on the move in a trade:
The #Rams are in discussions with several teams about potentially trading franchised CB Trumaine Johnson, per teams involved. Big domino.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2017
- Spending on a free agent upgrade at tight end didn’t seem like it was in the cards for the Bears, and it looks even less likely with two of the top options off the market. The Colts will re-sign Jack Doyle, keeping him from exploring the free agent market. Doyle snagged 59 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns for Indianapolis in 2016, and projects to be a top target for quarterback Andrew Luck. Jermaine Gresham also re-signed with the team that employed him in 2016, agreeing to a four-year deal with the Cardinals. Gresham has three touchdown receptions in two seasons with Arizona. Fortunately, the draft is especially deep in intriguing tight ends, which could yield the Bears a contributor even in the middle rounds.
- If the Bears dip their toe in the tackle market for the second straight season, Ricky Wagner will probably be their preferred guy. Kevin Patra writes that the Ravens’ former fifth-round pick is set to establish a new level for right tackles. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network believes Wagner will sign for more than $8 million per year, and the teams who could pony up for his services include the Bears, Vikings, Lions, and Texans. Baltimore looks to be out of the running if that price doesn’t come down.