The weekend provided ample time for the Chicago Bears (and their fans) to take a step back and survey the free agent landscape.
While the team missed out on opportunities to land a difference maker in cornerback Stephon Gilmore or retain a playmaker in wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, those two players’ decisions helped bring clarity to the Bears’ future – which might be the most valuable thing to come out of the early days of free agency.
Over at The Athletic, Dan Pompei notes that the Bears’ free agency formula is similar to that of the Green Bay Packers. And if there is any blue print worth following, it’s that of a team that drafts and develops its talent better than most.
The Bears added starters and depth in free agency. And while the names weren’t sexy, they represented improvements compared to what the team fielded in 2016 – and don’t necessarily block potential difference makers who could be acquired in the upcoming draft.
As for the Mike Glennon signing, Pompei writes the quarterback could prove to be better (or worse) than any of the options who lined up under center in 2016. And despite GM Ryan Pace stating Glennon was the team’s starter, the Bears are likely to draft Glennon’s replacement in April. If that scenario plays out, it’s worth asking if Glennon being a relative unknown with a hefty one-year price tag would be enough to keep head coach John Fox from benching him in favor of the developing draft pick if he is ready to play.
As the days go on, the Bears seem to be creating more questions than potential answers. Then again, the draft is only seven weeks away.
- Pro Football Focus’ available crop of top free agents features familiar faces and highly successful names. After missing out on some of the top talents in this class, the Bears could always find themselves dabbling into the second tier of free agency to fill certain roster spots. Chicago hasn’t spent on the biggest or best, but it has given out starter money to a handful of players this offseason and could continue to do so in advance of the NFL Draft.
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- Deshaun Watson’s future is unclear at this stage, because there is still no consensus top quarterback available in the draft (there is a consensus group of top quarterbacks, I suppose). This isn’t to say there aren’t talented quarterbacks who will be drafted, but teams have yet to commit to one just yet. Over at Pro Football Weekly, Greg Gabriel debunks a myth with regard to Watson’s arm strength. Gabriel writes too much was made over radar gun readings at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Further, Gabriel lends a scouts eye on what people should be looking for out of Watson’s combine performance. If you’re still mildly interested in the idea of drafting Watson, then Garbiel’s analysis is a must-read.
- Alshon Jeffery passed on an opportunity to throw former teammate Jay Cutler under the bus and put the blame on him for the Bears’ recent sub-par seasons. Over at CSN Chicago, John Mullin writes that the Bears’ and Jeffery’s inability to come to a long-term deal is understandable. The Bears had limits on what they were comfortable spending on a receiver with clear No. 1 upside, who also missed significant playing time due to injuries and a four-game suspension in 2016. On the other hand, Jeffery eventually found himself settling on a make-good deal with a team with a steady long-term quarterback situation – something the Bears don’t have now, and might not have in the near future.
- Pass rusher extraordinaire DeMarcus Ware, the author of 138.5 sacks – including 117 with the Dallas Cowboys, announced his retirement on Monday:
— NFL (@NFL) March 14, 2017
- Cordarrelle Patterson, the former Minnesota Vikings receiver/return specialist who visited the Bears on Saturday, has signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders. Because of the creativity the Raiders have shown on offense and on special teams, seeing how Patterson will be deployed for a winning team will be worth watching.
- After the first wave of free agency moved the top tier difference makers around the league, the second round still needs to bring clarity and answers to many questions. Conor Orr writes about the stories to keep an eye on after the first group of free agents have signed. Jay Cutler’s future is discussed among the many stories to keep an eye on in 2017. Cutler is currently the top free agent quarterback on the market, but public perception makes him the type of player teams might not be as interested in as they should be. The Jets are in play for Cutler, if New York intrigues him.
I'm not sure why T.J. McDonald is still unsigned – wants too many $ ? – but he'd be best safety on the Bears right now if they signed him.
— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) March 13, 2017
- McDonald was Pro Football Focus’ 58th ranked safety in 2016, which put him behind both of the Bears’ starters (Adrian Amos, Quintin Demps), and would slot just ahead of Harold Jones-Quartey.
- The Bears made the signing of offensive lineman Tom Compton official on Monday night. If Compton seeks a camp competition, he has come to the right place. The Bears could use a player who has starting experience across the line, but also is able to knock Bobbie Massie off the right tackle spot. We briefly discussed Compton’s addition over the weekend.