The NFL’s free agency period kicks off in eight days. Two days prior to that, the “legal tampering” period opens up. In the meantime, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in rumors.
- Even though their cap space is limited, the Chicago Bears are a team with needs and means to pursue upgrades at any number of positions. Chris Emma of 670 The Score writes up a free agency preview, which provides perspective on the state of the team’s needs and available options. You’ll want to read the post in its entirety in order to get a full scope of what Chicago’s football team is facing as heads into free agency. But I wanted to highlight some nuggets and worthwhile tidbits regarding possible targets on the Bears’ radar.
- In search of quarterback options to provide Mitch Trubisky with veteran competition? Emma lists Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, and Case Keenum as options the Bears could explore. A trade for Andy Dalton is also an option presented by Emma, adding the caveat that the Bears could send a player to the Bengals as part of the deal to offset the $17.5 million base salary he is due for 2020.
- No matter who is under center for Chicago in 2020, a bolstered offensive line would go a long way toward helping that player reach peak performance. Graham Glasgow (who we profiled as a possible target) is viewed as a player who could be an upgrade and long-term fixture at the position as he enters visage 28 campaign. A short-term bridge option could be Eric Kush, who spent 2019 with the Browns after being in Chicago from 2016 through 2018. Kush will play in his age 31 season in 2020.
- On the other side of the line, Emma presents a pair of edge defenders who could pique the Bears’ interest. Dante Fowler was a Jaguars first-round pick in 2015 who started to reach his potential after being traded from Jacksonville to Los Angeles. Fowler recorded his first double-digit sack season in 2019, which could pave the way for a hefty contract for his age 26 season and beyond. Mario Addison, who played four games for the Bears in 2011, enters his age 33 season looking like he can still contribute. Addison has 39 sacks in his last 61 games dating back to 2016. It’s tough to imagine a veteran like Addison returning to the rebuilding Panthers at this stage of his career.
- Free agency isn’t only the only avenue the Bears can travel en route to upgrading their roster. Trade chatter has picked up in recent weeks, and figures to continue through the start of the new league year. Because once teams strike out in free agency, from offices will have to pivot to contingency plans.
- Surely, this is what the Ravens and Raiders had in mind as NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport floated this report:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2020
- There isn’t a direct connection to the Bears, but both Robert Griffin III and Gabe Jackson would be sensible trade options.
- The Bears could do worse than RGIII (or is it RG3? I never fell on one side or the other…) as a backup quarterback candidate. Seriously, I don’t hate it. Griffin checks some boxes for the Bears as a veteran quarterback with extensive starting experience and a unique prospect pedigree as a Heisman Trophy winner who was the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and AP Offensive Rookie of the Year out of the gate.
- Jackson, meanwhile, is a 28-year-old guard with ample starting experience as an anchor of the Raiders’ interior line between 2014 and 2019. Injuries in 2018 (elbow) and 2019 (knee) kept Jackson from competing in full 16-game seasons the last two years, but graded out as average or better on PFF’s scale in each of his first five seasons. Jackson has base salaries of $9.35 million in 2020 and 2021, as well as $9.437 million coming in 2022, per OverTheCap.com. And with no dead money left on Jackson’s deal, the Raiders have a tradable contract on their hands.
- Speaking of which, Arthur Arkush (Pro Football Weekly) entertains some affordable possible trade targets for the Bears this offseason. Arkush targets players on rookie deals who could hit the market. Among the most ideal fits are tight ends (Hayden Hurst, Josh Oliver), a possible offensive line reclamation project (Cam Robinson), a cornerback once tied to the Bears on the rumor mill (Sam Beal), and a quarterback who has tumbled down the 49ers depth chart (C.J. Beathard). There is also a mention of Gardner Minshew II as an alternate quarterback trade option, but it’s difficult to imagine the Jaguars trading a potential starter on a rookie-scale deal and choosing to turn over the keys to Nick Foles for a second season. Not impossible, but highly difficult.
- There is no shortage of players who could be on the market at any point this offseason. With that in mind, don’t go jumping off the deep end if the Bears don’t make a big splash immediately. Chicago’s front office needs to be equal parts aggressive, but concentrated in their offseason approach. Otherwise, a series of failed pursuits and mismatched players brought in to supplement the 2020 roster could ultimately result in larger, higher-profile, sweeping changes down the line.
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