Rumor Mill: Jeffery Overestimated? Bears in on Mallett? No Longer Favorites for Gilmore? More
Free agents who had agreed in principle during the NFL’s “legal tampering” period can officially sign their names on the dotted line starting at 3 p.m. today. These are the teams which had the most to work with entering Thursday:
2017 projected cap space for all 32 teams. pic.twitter.com/EswTf15aSS
— NFL (@NFL) March 9, 2017
The Bears have the seventh most cap space to deal from (more when they, as assumed, part ways with Jay Cutler), and plenty of needs to fill throughout the roster. It will be worth watching to see what the Titans and Patriots do with their ample cap space. Tennessee and New England rank fourth and sixth, respectively – and are the only teams in the top seven of projected cap space with winning records in 2016. Meanwhile, the Chiefs, Eagles, and Cowboys have a lot to do if they want to improve their teams via free agency. Good luck to those respective cap gurus employed by those franchises.
- While the focus is on adding Mike Glennon (latest here), the Bears could be in the market for another tall, strong-armed (but highly flawed) quarterback. Bears Wire points out the conflicting reports with regards to quarterback Ryan Mallett. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the Ravens plan on retaining Mallett, a third-round pick by the Patriots in 2011 who was one of the many backups to sit behind Tom Brady. However, Dianna Russini has the Bears, Jets, and 49ers joining the Ravens in pursuing Mallett, who made four appearances (no starts) in 2016. If the Bears brought in Mallett, he could compete with Connor Shaw (and/or a draft pick) for the backup job behind Glennon.
- This is the kind of tweet that allows for a window of hope if you’re rooting for a reunion between the Bears and Alshon Jeffery:
Pryor and Jeffrey finding they vastly overestimated their market/market value.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 9, 2017
- Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes that the Bears allowing Jeffery to explore his market has apparently revealed that teams aren’t valuing as much as he thought entering the free agent process. It’s quite possible teams aren’t willing to take the risk on the talented receiver, who hits free agency with numerous question marks surrounding his availability due to health and a 2016 PED suspension. As we discussed yesterday, it’s not likely that Kenny Stills’ re-signing with Miami helps boost Jeffery’s value, because Stills’ deal wasn’t a market mover. However, Pierre Garcon’s deal with the 49ers, which reportedly includes $16 million guaranteed in the first year, could be an assist. It’s always possible that there are numerous suitors lining up behind the scenes ready to spark a bidding war for Jeffery, but reported interest and signings during the legal tampering period is any indication, the Bears may yet be able to retain Jeffery on a reasonable deal.
- While the Bears have been mentioned as favorites to land free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore, online bookmakers see the Chargers making a run, actually placing the Los Angeles-bound franchise as the betting frontrunners for Gilmore’s services at the start of the legal tampering period. The Chargers have an on-field need for a cornerback of Gilmore’s stature, but also are in the market to win over some fans and headlines as they compete for attention with the Rams – and the other professional teams in the Los Angeles market. Have things changed since teams started negotiating with agents? We may find out later today. (UPDATE: Changed indeed, as Gilmore is signing with the Patriots.)
- Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Patrick Finley and Adam Jahns tackle the Bears’ biggest issues ahead of free agency. Finley breaks it down and lays out what a winning offseason (adding defensive playmakers in a secondary for a defense that produced only 11 turnovers) and a failing one (allowing Alshon Jeffery to walk without signing a competent replacement) look like. Jahns concurs, echoing the sentiments that something must be done about the Bears’ woeful secondary. As for losing free agency, he warns about the risk that comes with falling into the trap of trying to buy your way out of the cellar. The Bears have many needs to fill and the cap room to address such needs, but the free agent hit rate isn’t always successful as one might like. Spending smartly is a better option than spending profusely.
- Just because the Bears have significant cap space doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the hunt for a bargain. Chris Rosling of Bleacher Report rounds up players who could represent the best bargains and fill needs via free agency. Quarterback Brian Hoyer is already off the market (more on him later), but two receivers (Kendall Wright, Cordarelle Patterson) and four defensive backs (Darius Butler, D.J. Hayden, Duron Harmon, Jonathan Cyprien) headline the group for various reasons. Each of these players has marketable skills that could play up in a change of scenery, but each player comes with his own set of baggage and reasons why they never lived up to their potential. It will be interesting to see how the market for these players develops, especially with so many teams having money to spend.
- It looks like old friend Josh McCown is planning to visit the Cowboys, who will have a vacancy behind starter Dak Prescott once Tony Romo is officially released. McCown, who was born in Jacksonville, Texas, would be a welcome fit for a Cowboys team that seeks a worthy backup for a Super Bowl contender.
- Brian Hoyer is off to San Francisco, where the 49ers hope they get early-season Hoyer rather than the guy whose production tends to taper off as the season progresses:
QB Brian Hoyer to sign with the 49ers.
Throughout his career he has started strong, but faded once the calendar turned to November. pic.twitter.com/DMp50gC9Pl
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 8, 2017