Last offseason, the Chicago Bears made a wave of impact moves in free agency, which ultimately helped the team win 12 games and a division title in the NFC North. But don’t expect history to repeat itself – well, in free agency, that is.
From the NFL Scouting Combine, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is getting the sense that the Bears won’t be making splashy moves when free agency opens up on March 13th. Indeed, the Bears appear to be taking alternate routes to round out the roster, and honestly, I can dig it. It’s a wise (necessary?) move considering the team’s salary-cap related payroll restraints, not to mention the possible extensions GM Ryan Pace will want to ink to keep core players in Chicago for a good, long while.
Rather than targeting outside help, the Bears seem intent at rewarding their own in free agency, perhaps with slot cornerback Bryce Callahan as a priority. Nickel corners might as well be considered starters based on the snap share they play and the league’s continued upward trend of three-receiver sets.
Therefore, the expectations are that Callahan will garner a fair share of interest from teams in search of starting cornerback help. And while the Jets have already been pegged as a potential suitor, there hasn’t been much buzz regarding Callahan elsewhere. That could ultimately be good news for a Bears front office that doesn’t have the wiggle room to get into a bidding war for his services.
But for good measure, Biggs also reports that the Bears want to bring back safety Adrian Amos, as well. And why wouldn’t they? The Penn State product was (for all intents and purposes) a four-year starter who was a model of consistency, reliability, and production.
The tricky part here is that the safety position is loaded with playmakers, who may set the earnings-expectation a little high. With Earl Thomas sitting at the top of the free agent pecking order, guys like Amos, Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Lamarcus Joyner are in a position to feel the trickle-down impact of Thomas setting the market (on the other hand, with several quality options out there, the supply might be high enough to keep demand (and, thus, prices) down).
In any case, if Amos were to go elsewhere, the Bears could re-allocate those funds to put themselves in play for another impact safety. Or the could turn to Deon Bush as a stop-gap starter and use the draft to find their next late-round safety who contributes in a major way. This draft appears to be loaded with potential secondary help.
Oddly enough, the Bears don’t appear to be interested in throwing wads of cash at their kicking problem. That would pretty much rule out Pro Bowl free agent Jason Myers, who went 33-for-36 (91.7%) with the Jets after connecting on just 81 percent of his kicks during his three-year run with the Jaguars. And while the team has been connected to every mid-round running back underneath the sun with eyes on rounding out the position group, Biggs believes the Bears won’t be in on Le’Veon Bell to fill the void as a free agent.
We were angling for the Bears to jump the market on the likes of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and others at this time last year. But because the team hit on those moves (and many others) last offseason, they don’t have to travel that road again. For once, the Bears absence from the high-end of the free agent market means something good.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.