As Brett discussed earlier today, the first day of free agency … did not go swimmingly for the Chicago Bears. They missed on a number of top free agents, leading some to suggest that the “punt” on 2017 may start sooner rather than later.
But that’s not how things were supposed to go, right? Free agents are supposed to want to play with new Bears QB Mike Glennon …
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) March 9, 2017
Well, so much for that (so far)!
But hey, there’s still plenty of avenues left for the Bears, and there’s even more work to be done. One day does not an offseason make.
Elsewhere from the Bears’ world and around the rumor mill …
- Alshon Jeffery’s departure means GM Ryan Pace can add ‘big-play receiver’ to the list of needs. And because a No. 1 caliber wide receiver isn’t available on the free agent market, the Bears will likely need to find that player in the draft. Draft analyst Chad Reuter has five candidates to fill the vacancy left behind by Jeffery – including four players who project to be available in the first three rounds. Drafting Corey Davis from Western Michigan with the third overall pick would be a major reach, but the Bears could get creative and trade down to add some much needed picks.
- And hey, it looks like at least one of the Bears’ additions is excited to get on the field with Glennon:
New #Bears WR Markus Wheaton: "I'm absolutely excited." Said he played with QB Mike Glennon at the Senior Bowl and noted his "big arm."
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 10, 2017
- Moving on, let’s see what’s left for the Bears to pick at on the cornerback market:
FA’s strongest position, CB, thinning out. Claiborne, Carr, Amukamara, Munnerlyn, Newman, Carroll, Webster, House…
— Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) March 10, 2017
- The position is still deep, but adding a player at this stage comes with its own set of risks. But for what it’s worth, Terence Newman’s 86.4 grade was the highest among this group of remaining free agents and ninth best overall in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. Morris Claiborne (12th best grade, 84.7) wasn’t too far behind. However, Newman will play in his age 39 season in 2017, while Claiborne is coming off a year in which he played only seven games and has a list of prior injuries (wrist, knee, shoulder, hamstring) that serve as red flags. Prince Amukamara, Captain Munnerlyn, and Brandon Carr grade out in the 42-51 range, fitting best as average players. [UPDATE: It’s Amukamara for the Bears.]
- On the safety front, Micah Hyde (formerly of the Packers) signed a five-year deal with the Bills on Thursday. There was some interest from the Bears, but it was Buffalo that made the deal happen and now it’s all history.
- The Browns seem to be positioning themselves well to make a run at a trade to bring in Patriots’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, don’t expect trading for Tom Brady’s backup to come cheaply. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that New England will seek the No. 1 overall pick in a deal for Garoppolo. It’s an outlandish asking price, sure, but remember, you can’t get what you don’t ask for. (Also: this perhaps underscores why the Bears went a different direction at quarterback.)
- Kirk Cousins wants out. Even though Washington put the exclusive Franchise Tag on Cousins, Pro Football Talk notes that Cousins personally asked owner Daniel Snyder for a trade out of town. Snyder’s response boiled down to this: Don’t get your hopes up, kid. Obviously, the Bears wouldn’t have been involved at this point, but it’s still worth monitoring.
- If Cousins winds up staying (he will), it’s possible he will have a new top target in Terrelle Pryor, who has visited with the team (but has not yet agreed to a deal). Pryor, a former quarterback, had a breakout season as a receiver, picking up 1,000 yards through the air for a woeful Cleveland Browns team. Now, imagine if he had a consistent quarterback like Cousins throwing to him … could be a nice combination.
- But no matter what happens with Cousins, it’s likely he won’t throw another pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson – unless, of course, they teamed up in a Pro Bowl down the line. That’s because Jackson signed a three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson is a vertical threat, who will place nicely along side fellow stud receiver Mike Evans in hauling in big throws from quarterback Jameis Winston.
- Continuing around the league, the Rams made some moves in an attempt to bolster their offense for Jared Goff’s second season. First, they added left tackle Andrew Whitworth, an 11-year pro coming off a season in which he was PFF’s second best offensive tackle. Whitworth is a model of consistency and stellar play, and it’s worth noting that he hasn’t secured a season grade lower than 85 since 2009. They also agreed to terms with receiver Robert Woods. Woods has sleeper potential after spending time with the Buffalo Bills, unable to truly breakout while being lost in the madness of the Bills’ quarterback situation.
- Moving into the NFC North, running back Eddie Lacy is setting up his own visits. Teams such as the Seahawks and Vikings are potential landing spots for the former 1,000-yard rusher.
- Meanwhile, former Bears offensive lineman Ted Larsen is leaving for Miami, where it is expected he will sign a three-year contract with the Dolphins. Larsen played in 15 games and started eight for the 2016 Bears. He also ranked 44th in 2016 and has not received a 70 grade or better from PFF since 2012.
- And finally, defensive lineman Cornelius Washington joined the exodus out of Chicago, signing a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions.
The offseason may not have started exactly how you envisioned, but as you can tell there are still a ton of moving parts. And remember, the draft is just weeks away. If the Bears can knock it out of the park, they’ll be well-positioned for the 2018 season and could even surprise this year.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.