What Does a Successful Offseason Look Like For You? And Other Bears Bullets

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What Does a Successful Offseason Look Like For You? And Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Before we dive in to Bullets, I wanted to pass along my sincerest “thank yous” as our Twitter page surpassed 35,000 followers last week. I’d been meaning to do this earlier, but never got around to doing it. So here I am … doing it. Your eyes help us thrive. And I love the back-and-forth rapport we have here. Let’s keep the good times rolling. Hopefully, Ryan Poles will give us something to dream on, as he gets set for his first run in free agency as a general manager. Giddy up!

•   All right! So about that question in the title. The “legal tampering” period of NFL free agency begins at 11 a.m. CT. This annual right of passage serves as an unofficial kickoff to the new league year. Think of today being New Year’s Eve morning. You know what is coming when the clock strikes midnight, but also realize what needs to be done before that time comes. And on top of that, you’ve gotta make new year’s resolutions. Right?

•   I won’t ask for resolutions. Instead, I’m curious to know what a successful offseason looks like from your perspective? For me, the Bears already have the ball rolling with a new general manager and head coach in place. Adding new coaches and staffers was also on my early winter checklist. That is all fine and dandy, but what about the transaction period? From where I’m sitting, these are the best things GM Ryan Poles and his staff can do right now:

⇒   Clear future cap space. Trading Khalil Mack and parting ways with Eddie Goldman is a good start when it comes to getting into a more favorable cap situation. Avoiding mistakes that get the Bears back to that spot in the first place should also be on the to-do list.

⇒   Improve the offensive line options. Chicago’s blockers were a big yikes across the board last year. There were moments of competence, to be sure. But that group was too inconsistent and it showed in its collective failure to gain traction for extended periods.

⇒   Bring on the pass-catchers. Justin Fields’ only notable targets as of now are Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. If you want to give it a stretch, we can add running back David Montgomery and reserve tight end Jesper Horsted to the mix for the sake of conversation. But that only further goes to show how shallow the talent pool is at the skill positions.

⇒   Establish an identity. It seems cliché. But it wouldn’t be cliché if there wasn’t a morsel of truth to it. The Bears were like a rudderless ship the last few years. Finding direction and purpose should be a priority for this front office. Changing the culture starts with the new guys at the top, but they need players who can help that message permeate throughout the locker room. This isn’t be built overnight, so there is some patience required. But making moves that display a purpose would be helpful for fans fearing the worst out of a new regime and a pending rebuild.

•   I’ll feel better about the Bears if they can do the four things above. No one is asking for the new regime to build a dynasty on Day 1 of free agency. But some useful pieces to the puzzle would make for a nice start.

•   But before even getting to today’s business, two moves with potential Bears implications last night. Dallas came to an extension agreement with receiver Michael Gallup, who was given a five-year deal worth $62.5 million that comes with $27 million in guarantees. Michael Gehlken (Dallas News) has details regarding the new contract, which has me locked into that $12.5M AAV. That number helps put the receiver market into perspective. This isn’t to take away from any number of pass catchers on the brink of getting major paper. But Gallup getting $12.5M AAV should make general managers think twice about giving someone in this collection of free agents something at (or north of) $17 million.

•   Don’t get it twisted. The Bears have needs at receiver, but shouldn’t tie up cap space for someone who doesn’t project to be worthy of that hit.

•   Meanwhile, another market-setting contract with a potential trickle-down effect to the Bears went down with Ryan Jensen re-signing with the Buccaneers. So … not only do the Bucs get Tom Brady back (seriously, that was a thing that happened while you were probably eating dinner like I was) and his center returns, too. Some guys get all the luck. NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reports Jensen, who was the top free agent center on the market, gets a three-year deal worth $39 million. On top of that, Carmen Vitali adds Jensen’s deal comes with $23 million in full guarantees. In other words, shopping at the top of the interior line market is going to be pricy.

•   I understand GM Ryan Poles wants to operate in the sweet spot of the second and third tiers of free agency. But there will come a time where he bites the bullet for some player.

•   Sure, we can cross Jensen off this list. Even still … there are plenty of able-bodied guards and centers:

•   Plus, it appears to be a good draft class for these types of players. Just sayin’, the Bears have options.

•   Speaking of interior linemen, Kristopher Knox (B/R) lists James Daniels as the free agent the Bears can’t afford to lose. On the one hand, Knox nails it in identifying Daniels as a player worth keeping. Daniels is just 24. Keep that in mind when considering how signing a multi-year deal now still positions him for a second big free agent deal in his prime. But on the other hand, I wonder if Daniels will be priced out of the Bears’ spending range. The cap might be a myth to some NFL teams, but the Bears aren’t in a spot to be manipulating numbers — even if they are desperate for line help.

•   On the other side of the line, Robert Quinn will sack your quarterback:

•   Sigh. I’ll miss the Quinn-and-Mack sack attack:

•   We didn’t take Khalil Mack for granted around these parts. Here is one final look at the one-man quarterback wrecking machine at the peak of his powers in Chicago.

•   My eyes were elsewhere Saturday, so I missed this initially:

•   Between NFL and MLB free agency, Brett, Michael, and myself are never sleeping again:

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.