ESPN’s Picks for Bears Fits in Free Agency Are Ridiculously Logical

NFL teams can begin talking to representatives of free agents in 20 days. It feels like the wait is lengthy, but the rumors that pop up between now and then will do wonders in filling the time. Unfortunately, not every spin on the rumor mill is created equally. And it makes for uneasy times. However, this bit of work from ESPN’s Matt Bowen is refreshing, entertaining, and informative regarding the free agency period ahead. Particularly when it comes to the Chicago Bears’ plans.

Bowen, a former NFL player who now works as an ESPN analyst, combs through a list of top 50 available free agents and finds some ideal fits. And when it comes to the Bears, Bowen’s suggestions are so on the nose for what this team needs that it rocks my world. Because in a landscape where I’m so used to off-the-wall ideas, Bowen lets logic take over and circles the Bears as best fits for a pair of free agents. Not that we would’ve expected anything different, but of course they’re both players who line up in the trenches.

Mike McGlinchey would fill an immediate need

First, it is offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey. The 49ers’ right tackle is No. 7 on the top 50 list, so it’s not as if Bowen is scraping the bottom of the barrel here. McGlinchey, 28, was a first-round pick (9th overall) in 2018 and has been a primary starter for the Niners, mainly playing right tackle. His 2022 season was arguably the best overall tape he has put out as a pro. Although, there’s a good chance McGlinchey is mostly remembered for a few playoff reps in which Micah Parson and Haason Redick got the best of him.

Nevertheless, McGlinchey still has a decent overall résumé and is just one year removed from posting a strong 89.6 percent pass block win rate. In other words, it’s not as if McGlinchey doesn’t have good pass-blocking reps in his background. It’s just that the most recent work isn’t all that inspiring.

Even still … McGlinchey is one of the most intriguing offensive line targets who could hit free agency this offseason. To be clear, we’re not out of the woods just yet. At least, not regarding McGlinchey making it to the open market. As we discussed earlier, McGlinchey could get the Franchise Tag from the 49ers. After all, shouldn’t the Niners want to keep an able-bodied blocker during their window of contention? In any case, Bowen believes McGlinchey could be in for “a big, multiyear deal” this offseason. Consider the Bears’ needs along the offensive line (specifically, at right tackle). And the copious amounts of available cap space. Do you see why it would make sense if these two tango?

Dre’Mont Jones is an under the radar D-line option

One of my favorite signings of the Ryan Pace era was the addition of linebacker Danny Trevathan. No, Trevathan wasn’t a star. But he was a solid contributor who showed up weekly and set the tone in the defense John Fox and Vic Fangio were putting on the field. The Bears could use that type of player in the trenches. That said, I think Bowen nails Broncos defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones as an ideal fit for the Bears this offseason.

Bowen’s description of what Jones brings to the table piques my interest:

With edge/interior flexibility, Jones is a high-end mover who shows a quick first step off the ball and the short-area juice to penetrate versus the run game or create pass rush production. In ’22, he registered 6.5 sacks and 28 pressures, and his pass rush win rate when lined up inside (15.9%) ranked sixth among all defenders. 

Jones, 26, is seen as an “ascending player” who would immediately boost the Bears’ defense. Based on the information we have at our disposal, I’m in agreement. Moreover, doesn’t this Jones description remind you a bit of Akiem Hicks? Or, at a minimum, who Hicks was when first signing with Chicago? A player who put out good tape, has a solid baseline, and still has room for growth? That is the type of player the Bears must target in free agency. Someone who can grow with this team as it climbs out from having the worst record in football in 2022.

In the end…

What is fun about this exercise is that we can probably plug in any number of names as “best fits” for the Bears. This class of free agents has a few things going for it. Firstly, it has depth in several key areas. Secondly, it comes at a time when the salary cap’s ceiling is at an all-time high. And, thirdly, this class has a team like the Bears with nearly $100 million in cap space to target top options. There should be no shortage of suitable options for GM Ryan Poles to have eyes on this offseason. Further, the Bears are in a place where they can afford to take some financial risks. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that cap muscle they flex in March. But however much it is, it feels like the offensive and defensive lines will be a priority.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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