Earlier today, we took a look at the first post-Super Bowl mock draft and how landing offensive lineman Quenton Nelson in the first round and wide receiver Christian Kirk in the second would represent something of a dream scenario for the Bears.
But what about free agency? What would be the Bears dream scenario on the pricer half of the talent acquisition model look like? We know the Bears need receivers, but that’s not the only hole on the roster. So what else is out there?
Well, Pro Football Focus is currently rolling out their team-by-team free agency previews and Cam Mellor gets a crack at the Bears, a team that has sleeping giant potential if they push all the right buttons this offseason.
Indeed, there is a belief the Bears aren’t too far away from competing, and that feeling is only going to grow after watching the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl after back-to-back 7-9 seasons. And with some mindful offseason maneuvering, Chicago can push itself toward its first non-losing season since 2013 and possibly into the playoff discussion.
How, you ask?
Well, it could all start by re-signing one of the team’s top players and addressing a significant need all in one fell swoop. Mellor believes the Bears must re-sign cornerback Kyle Fuller after his breakout season in 2017.
We’ve discussed Fuller’s breakout season before, but in case you forgot … Fuller had a nice season as a cover corner, allowing a 69.0 passer rating, despite being targeted on 119 passes. His career-year featured 22 passes defended, 17 pass breakups, and a career-low 51.3 percent of targets turned receptions. Fuller’s ability to hold it down on one side of the field despite being picked on constantly by opposing quarterbacks was remarkable to watch in 2017.
So go figure that one year after the team signed Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara to bolster the secondary – after Fuller missed a year recovering from a knee injury – it was Fuller who out-played Cooper, earned a starting role across from Amukamara, and positioned himself best to cash in on free agency.
The Bears’ dream free agency period doesn’t stop there, though.
Mellor pairs this move with the signing of Jaguars free agent receiver Allen Robinson. It’s not often where a dream scenario involves signing a player coming off ACL surgery, thus, putting three receivers coming off season-ending injuries on the same roster, but Robinson isn’t any run-of-the-mill receiver.
Robinson is a proven pass catcher with big-play ability who fits a need as a starting-caliber receiver who can play outside the numbers. He would be an instant upgrade and would probably be a favorite to latch on quickly with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. After all, he made Christian Hackenberg look great at Penn State and did the same for Blake Bortles in his second season as a pro. Imagine what he can do for Trubisky and the Bears offense. Swoon.
Mellor also mentions Panthers guard Andrew Norwell as a candidate for a dream splash signing. Adding an All-Pro guard to the offensive line could open up some things for the Bears when draft weekend rolls around, but we can cross that bridge when we get there.
Other free agent prospects include Steelers tackle Chris Hubbard, who excelled as a run blocker but struggled in pass protection, and Seahawks edge defender Dion Jordan, once believed to be a first-round bust who could be a value buy for a defense that needs to find an effective pass rusher to put on the other side of Leonard Floyd.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Bears had $41,217,467 in salary cap room, which ranked as the 11th most in the NFL at the time of the post. Of course, that number could grow exponentially depending on who the team decides to part ways with before free agency begins. With needs at receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and tackle being prominent and cash being plentiful, things are lining up for a few impact additions via free agency.