In looking to repair a leaky secondary, the Chicago Bears seemed to be looking for a particular type of player. Someone who was experienced, but was also still young with untapped potential.
By giving Marcus Cooper a three-year contract early in free agency, GM Ryan Pace hitched his wagon on Cooper being that kind of player.
The 6-foot-2 cornerback played sparingly in three years with the Kansas City Chiefs before having somewhat of a breakout season in his one year with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s possible that all Cooper needs is a fresh start in a new home and an increase in playing time under a highly regarded defensive coordinator, such as Vic Fangio.
Cooper won’t likely be short on opportunities to play in Chicago, especially when the Bears go up against the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
Player, Age (in 2017) Position
Marcus Cooper, 27, cornerback
3 years, $16 million ($8 million in guarantees, with $1.5 million in signing bonuses and can make up to $1 million per season in incentives)
- Season stats: 15 games (13 starts), 4 interceptions (1 touchdown), 11 passes defended, 63 tackles
- Pro Football Focus Grade: 45.5, 101st among cornerbacks
Cooper, who started a total of 11 games in his first three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, had a breakout of sorts with extended playing time in Arizona. In his lone season with the Cardinals, Cooper made the most of his 13 starts by intercepting four passes (including a pick-six) and making 63 tackles. Only safety Tony Jefferson (74) and linebacker Deone Bucannon (64) had more.
Performance Before 2016
- Career stats: 53 games (24 starts), 7 interceptions, 35 passes defended, 1 forced fumble (1 recovery), 2 defensive touchdowns, 128 tackles
- PFF grades: 62.3 (2013), 34.8 (2014), 55.7 (2015)
There isn’t much to draw from in Cooper’s career, as he played in spurts for the Chiefs from 2013 to 2015. In fact, he made almost as many tackles in one year with the Cardinals (63) as he did in three years with the Chiefs (65). Perhaps there is some upside in Cooper that will come out with additional playing time. However, the PFF grades he earned before 2016 (even in limited action) aren’t all that encouraging.
Cooper landed on the injury report at the end of the season with back and calf problems that started to pop up in Week 15. He has had assorted knee, ankle, and thumb injuries throughout the course of his career – but nothing significant that kept him out of the lineup.
Where Cooper Fits
Intent on fixing the secondary, Cooper joins fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara and safety Quintin Demps (you can get to know him here) among the free agent additions. Cooper represents a depth addition, albeit an expensive one with a limited body of work. Cooper is one of the riskier signings the Bears made, in that he doesn’t have much experience and his most impressive year came in a contract year.
The fact that Arizona allowed him to leave via free agency is a bit concerning, seeing that they allowed Ted Larsen and Bobbie Massie leave in free agency and replaced them with younger, cheaper replacements who performed as well (if not better) than the players they replaced. Ironically, both Larsen and Massie signed with the Bears last year.
The Bears needed to add depth and experience to a secondary that needed it, but also needed a younger player who still had room to grow. Cooper checks all those boxes, and the Bears hope his best is yet to come.
If you haven’t seen Cooper’s letter to Bears fans, you should change that right now.
— Marcus Cooper (@Mr_Cooper860) March 14, 2017