The Chicago Bears had a busy Saturday as GM Ryan Pace dipped into the second wave of free agency to add some new faces to the roster.
Kendall Wright’s one-year deal is as splashy as they would get, but the additions of offensive lineman Tom Compton and cornerback Marcus Cooper represented potential competition for training camp battles at tackle and in the secondary, respectively. At minimum, Saturday’s signings add depth to a team that didn’t have much of it in 2016.
Pace’s job is far from done, but as we know, free agency isn’t the only avenue he wants to travel en route to restocking the roster.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has some contract details for a pair of the new signings. Cooper’s deal is for three years and $16 million, with $8 million in guarantees, a $1.5 million signing bonus, and additional bonus cash for interception incentives and Pro Bowl selections. It’s not a break-the-bank kind of deal, but Cooper will be rewarded if plays well. Safety Quintin Demps’ deal is also a three-year contract, but comes with only $5 million in guarantees and a $1 million signing bonus.
- No matter which way you slice it, the Bears missed out when it came to the biggest names and potential difference makers in free agency. That puts the onus on the team to cash in on draft weekend. And that appears to be the team’s plan moving forward, as Biggs writes in his Sunday column at the Chicago Tribune. The Bears entered this offseason with various significant needs, but settled on players on short-term deals (allowing for flexibility in spending down the road) rather than address them with free agents who demanded major paydays despite having the eighth most cap space in the league. Biggs adds that three sources have expressed that the Bears have grown “frustrated” in their failed attempts at bringing free agents to Chicago. What good is cap space if the top-rated talent isn’t willing to accept it?
- In the end, it all comes back to the draft – which makes sense. The Bears weren’t going to fill all their needs in one free agency period, and history suggests there would have been a significant amount of poorly spent money if they were successful in that manner. The best teams build through the draft (see the Patriots, Packers, Steelers for details) and the Bears won’t be able to compete at a high level until the constantly produce playmakers in the draft – a move that would allow the team to supplement the roster without splurging in free agency. There will be pressure to produce another strong draft class in 2017. Pace has had two drafts, which have produced six players who were primary starters at their respective positions. All things considered, that’s a good start for a team in a rebuilding phase, but a third consecutive draft that produces at least three starters can help accelerate the process.
- Former Packers receiver James Jones paints the Bears’ signing of cornerback Prince Amukamara in a positive light. Jones thinks Amukamara will play well on a one-year deal because he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder, wanting to prove something to the rest of the league. Jones adds Amukamara has some of the best footwork he’s seen out of a cornerback, and if he is healthy, the move will turn out to be great for the Bears and Amukamara.
- With that said, ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson brings up something worth considering with these free agent signings in mind:
After signing Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, should note Tracy Porter is out of guaranteed money. Would earn $3.5 million base in '17.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) March 12, 2017
- Even with the additions of Cooper and Amukamara, the Bears would be wise to add a cornerback who could start from Day 1 in the draft.
- Sticking with the secondary, Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald writes that Quintin Demps could be the missing link in a secondary that was short on both production and veteran leadership. Demps is a playmaker who has persevered through adversity (he didn’t make his first NFL start until his sixth year in the league) to earn a significant free agency payday. The Bears have been searching for a playmaking safety since Mike Brown roamed the secondary, and while Demps doesn’t fill a long-term need at the position (for what it’s worth, he will be 32 in June) he is a fit because he fills a need the Bears have now, which buys the team time to find a long-term fix in the draft.
- I hope everyone remembered to move their clocks ahead one hour today.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 12, 2017
- Because the Bears struck out early in free agency, they’re not going to be on many (if any) “winners” lists. However, it’s a good sign they didn’t make Pro Football Focus’ list of moves that made no sense. There is always going to be questionable spending in free agency, but some of these moves were questionable from the moment the ink dried on the contract. Sam Monson’s description of the Texans-Browns deal involving Brock Osweiler takes the cake. “What could make this even worse for the Texans is that the Browns could pay half of Osweiler’s exorbitant contract as a roster bonus now, effectively halving the cost for any prospective new team, and immediately flip their new acquisition for a profit, like he was a used car they just cleaned up and changed the oil in.”
- The Detroit Lions have made an improvement to their offensive line for the second time this offseason. Detroit signed former Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang to a three-year deal, just days after signing right tackle Ricky Wagner – who at one point was viewed as a potential Bears target. Arthur Arkush of Pro Football Weekly notes the Lions have replaced four offensive linemen in the last calendar year, and the group projects to be much improved moving forward.