Even though the Chicago Bears didn’t throw around the kind of money to secure the type of big-ticket free agent signing, the team was busy over the weekend – as was its Twitter account, which handled the task of keeping up with the fresh faces who were added:
I’m wary of jumping in to make hasty decisions with offseason grades because free agency is only a few days old and the NFL Draft is a little more than a month away. Plenty can change between now and the time training camp starts.
However, this isn’t to say this early free agency period shouldn’t be viewed with a critical eye. The Bears had obvious needs at several positions that would have been considered strengths of this crop of free agents, but didn’t reel in any of its high-end talents. Here’s hoping the draft answers some roster construction questions we might otherwise have.
Until then, Bullets for your Monday consumption.
- The departure of Jay Cutler provides the Bears with a fresh start at the game’s most important (and visible) position. Mike Glennon doesn’t project to be more than a bridge quarterback, but with Cutler out of the picture, the Bears are in a position to find and develop a new crop of players with the hope that one becomes a face-of-the-franchise type. Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Potash notes that every championship-caliber team has an unquestioned leader who is the public face of the team, and writes that the Bears need a player to step up and take that role. Finding this won’t be easy, and it’s likely that player isn’t currently on this roster. Though, one could make a case for offensive lineman Kyle Long because he is the franchise’s most vocal leader and most visible player thanks in part to his social media presence. Even still, it feels as if it all boils down to finding the long-term solution at quarterback — doesn’t it?
- In an ideal world, the franchise quarterback represents everything you want your team’s football culture to be about. Players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are obvious examples, but the Bears don’t have that type of player under center yet. However, if you’ve followed this offseason closely, it is evident that GM Ryan Pace has a type of free agent he likes. Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly sees it too, noting that this crop of free agents seems represent what Pace wants the culture to be when this rebuild is complete. For now, the free agent crop features a mix veteran know-how and youth with various amounts of upside who will be in some sort of position battle at camp as the Bears attempt to build excellence through competition.
- Of course, free agency isn’t everything … it’s just a piece of the process. Over at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, Bob LeGere writes that Pace has the Bears set up to take the best available player with each of their draft picks. The Bears’ lack of major free agent splash serves as a reminder that Pace is sticking to his plan to build through the draft. And while the team added players who fill depth roles, the draft can be used to find long-term starters. And if the plan works, it will come in a more cost-efficient manner than free agency.
- Over at Comcast Sports Net Chicago, Chris Boden takes a look around the NFC North to see what the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings are doing to improve on their respective teams. The Packers and Lions made the playoffs in 2016, while the Vikings are a year removed from winning the division in 2015. The Bears have some catching up to do.
- In search of a replacement for Alshon Jeffery in the draft? Look no further:
Both Mike Williams and Corey Davis didn't work at the Combine. Their Pro Days are this week. Will be interesting to see how they do
— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) March 12, 2017
- Neither Williams nor Davis is likely to be in play for the Bears with the third pick, which is unfortunate in a sense, because both are talented players who could add another dimension to a Bears offense that lacks layers. However, if the Bears were to get creative and move out of the third slot and down in the draft or find another way to get a second first-round pick, they could absolutely land a playmaking pass catcher — which would certainly please their new quarterback.
- However, I wouldn’t necessarily bet on that scenario playing out. In a later tweet Gabriel says the Bears might be more likely to look for a receiver on Day 3 of the draft after the team takes care of more glaring needs in earlier rounds. The third day of the draft will feature Rounds 4-7, in which the Bears have four picks — Nos. 111, 117, 147, and 221. In fact, the Bears have three of the first 40 picks on Day 3, so it will be worth watching simply to see who the team takes.