The revolving door of safeties appears to be shut for the foreseeable future.
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace drafted Adrian Amos in the fifth round in 2015, watched him grow into a serviceable starter for two seasons before blossoming into Pro Football Focus’ second-highest-graded safety and Bleacher Report’s top-rated free safety. Two drafts later, the team selected Eddie Jackson in the fourth round, watched him earn a starting role in Week 1, and have a highlight-filled rookie season that included a game where he provided all of the necessary offense to beat a playoff-bound Carolina Panthers team.
After years of miserable safety play and hoping to find one suitable starter, the Bears will go into 2018 with two players who look to be keepers for the next few seasons.
WHO’S UNDER CONTRACT?
Amos enters the final year of his rookie deal, but the team is already exploring the possibility of a long-term extension. Meanwhile, Jackson will enter the second year of his rookie contract.
Three draft picks from the class of 2016 are also on the roster, though their roles are still to be determined. Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall were fourth-round picks, but neither has picked up a ton of playing other than on special teams. DeAndre Houston-Carson, a sixth-round selection in the same draft, has carved a role as a core special teams contributor.
EXITING FREE AGENTS
None of consequence.
WHO COULD BE CUT BEFORE THE LEAGUE NEW YEAR BEGINS?
They already cut Quintin Demps, which is sensible considering the team could better spend what they saved elsewhere. Spending $3 million on a reserve safety isn’t ideal.
Estimated cap savings: $3.3 million ($666,667 dead money)
HOW CAN THE BEARS ADDRESS/UPGRADE THE POSITION?
This is where it gets tricky. The Bears seem set at safety, but you can always be better … right?
Drafting Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a dream scenario. He is the most versatile defender in this draft having played in 19 different spots along the Crimson Tide’s defensive alignment. And yes, that includes safety where he might be best suited to star in the NFL.
Florida State’s Derwin James is a game-changing safety who excels against the pass and run. The Seminoles used him as a hybrid defender and starred in that role. You can blitz him, drop him in man or zone coverage, and trust him against the run. Simply put, there isn’t much (if anything) James can’t do.
But considering the Bears own the No. 8 pick and already have two starters locked in, it would be surprising if the team drafted a safety. And it wouldn’t be logical for the team to spend a hefty chunk of change in free agency at the position either, though the group could use a veteran presence who can push some of the younger players in camp.