GM Ryan Pace made the Chicago Bears one of the busiest teams working the transactions wires this offseason, and with good reason.
The Bears lost 5,452 snaps from players who have left the team in the last year, according to John Kosko of Pro Football Focus. This number includes three different starting quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley), a Pro Bowl caliber receiver (Alshon Jeffery), and the cornerback who played the most snaps among players at his position group (Tracy Porter). Turnover is commonplace in the NFL, but replacing a high number of players who represented a significant number of snaps is no easy task.
And for the Bears, it starts on offense where 3,386 snaps were lost in the offseason of movement. Only the Detroit Lions (4,547) have more holes to fill on offense. As for the Bears, nearly 30 percent of those snaps lost came from the quarterback position, where the team will attempt to replace the 994 snaps from the Cutler-Hoyer-Barkley trio with Mike Glennon and rookie Mitch Trubisky.
Cutler’s poor 47.1 grade gets overlooked because he played the fewest snaps, but Hoyer (82.1) was above average and Barkley (73.8) was given a respectable, average grade. Meanwhile, Glennon (68.7 grade in just 15 snaps) will be given the first shot at taking over under center with Trubisky (who had an 89.0 college grade from PFF in 2016) already breathing down his neck.
After turning to two players to fill the quarterback position, Chicago’s attempt at replacing Alshon Jeffery led them to sign multiple options at wide receiver. Kendall Wright (77.3) and Victor Cruz (48.9) are at the top of the list of players filling the void left behind by Jeffery and his 79.2 grade in 693 snaps. While Wright and Cruz add experience to a position group that lacks it, Jeffery’s elite upside will be missed. In any case, it will be Cameron Meredith resuming the responsibilities of being a playmaking No. 1 receiver who will garner the most attention from game-planning defensive coordinators.
Defensively, the Bears seem to have done a better job in filling in the holes with clear upgrades or more players with more experience. Porter (40.6 in 944 snaps) has been replaced by Prince Amukamara (75.5) at cornerback, while Will Sutton (74.8 in 174 snaps) was let go in favor of Jaye Howard (75.6).
So while that 5,452 number seems high, just know the Bears aren’t the only team fighting this fight. Both the Lions (7,965) and Green Bay Packers (5,510) enter the 2017 season trying to fill more voids left behind by departed players than the Bears.