Finding a W in Free Agency, A-Rob Gets His, Pitching for Bates, and Other Bears Bullets

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Finding a W in Free Agency, A-Rob Gets His, Pitching for Bates, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

One thing I’ll always love about Chicago is that if you don’t like the weather, you can wait it out and the odds are it’ll improve. Of course, on the flip side, you better not get used to unseasonably wonderful weather in March, because it can change at the drop of a hat. After a gorgeous Monday, it looks like we’re in line for a few days of lousy Smarch weather. Let’s bear down and make it through.

•   The Bears are among the losers of the first wave of free agency, at least in the eyes of Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon. It seems harsh from the top, although Kenyon hedges thusly:

There is no doubt new Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has a plan. But it didn’t include much in free agency.

Now, that’s not to suggest he’s already doing something wrong; Chicago has plenty of concerns to address, and overspending for free agents now may only compound that problem in future years. Still, the Bears tiptoed around the fringes of the roster.

•   In the interest of fairness, the assessment that first-year GM Ryan Poles has “tiptoed” around the fringe feels accurate. The Bears are losing waves of notable names via free agency, but have gone about replacing them with short-term roster fits. To be clear, this isn’t an awful idea for a team needing to dig out of Ryan Pace’s mess. But it doesn’t seem to be a popular one in public spheres. Then again, rebuilding projects never gain much public support until they’re almost done.

•   With that being said, I don’t want to overstate the importance of restricted free agent offensive lineman Ryan Bates visiting the Bears today. But it sure would feel good from a fan perspective to see the Bears (1) target a free agent, (2) successfully woo him on a visit, and (3) sign a contract without said target leaving the building. From a purely optics perspective, it would be refreshing. And from a football perspective, it would be a joy to add a lineman with experience at multiple positions who could start in a number of different spots. Building an offensive line (from the top of the depth chart to the bottom) is long overdue in these parts.

•   Bates’ profile reminds me of that of Patrick Wisdom or Frank Schwindel. For those who are unfamiliar, Wisdom and Schwindel are Cubs corner infielders who never were given a full season’s worth of opportunities despite flashing at stops before finding homes in Chicago. Neither is seen as a long-term fit, but the team could do worse than serviceable players at first and third. Much like the Bears could do worse than give an extended opportunity to a fringe starter with positional flexibility who was an all-conference performer in the Big Ten while at Penn State. This is the type of low-cost, upside signing the Bears should be targeting at the start of the Ryan Poles era.

•   Calling this a potential low-cost signing almost feels like I’m short-selling it. Think about the process here for a moment. The Bears will need to convince Bates they’re the team for him, out-bid the Patriots, Vikings, and any other team he has visted, and then hope the Bills don’t match their offer. A lot has to go Chicago’s way for this to fall in their favor.

•   Along those lines, perhaps Bengals offensive lineman Fred Johnson makes sense as someone the Bears kick the tires on:

•   Cincy’s offensive line sure was a stinker last year. And that the Bengals are ponying up money in free agency to a number of players to plug holes along the line rather than promote Johnson from within feels like a tell. But one man’s waiver fodder could be another’s waiver gold. FWIW: Johnson put up an 81.0 grade by PFF’s standards lat year, which was spearheaded by an 83.6 grade as a run blocker. Chicago needs obvious offensive line help. Not just in terms of starters, but also when it comes to quality depth. If this regime targets and spends on OL depth the way its predecessors did on the defensive side of things in previous years, the Bears could piece together a worthwhile group with some upside (and at a bargain when it comes to cost).

•   This is what it looks like when you finally get that pay day and get to catch passes from a Super Bowl winning QB:

•   With Cooper Kupp on one side of the formation and Robinson on the other, somebody is gonna EAT in 2022. Feels like a good time to own Matthew Stafford fantasy stock (if you’re into that sort of thing).

•   Rams GM Les Snead must be a cap magician:

•   Well, this is certainly one way to view these transactions:

•   The real March Madness is underway:

•   I want that showdown with Jahnsy in Round 2. Let’s go, friends!

•   Ear buds, charging gear, spring cleaning supplies, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Patrick Williams’ return to the Bulls lineup did an admirable job in filling the void left by a Monday without The Bachelor:

•   We had trade action in Hawkeytown:

•   Back off, Yanks! You, too, Friars:


Author: Luis Medina

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