A Bold Local Prediction: The Bears Are Going on a Free Agent Spending Spree
The stretch of days in which NFL teams can talk shop with agents representing free agents commonly referred to as the “legal tampering” period begins in 14 days. And between now and then, I figure the Chicago Bears will be tied to a LOT of players. In other words, we’re going to get a lot of Bears rumors. That’s what happens when you have a lot of money to spend and have many, many vacancies to fill. With that being said, I found the latest from NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock to be particularly interesting.
The insider makes five bold predictions in this piece. But let’s focus on the Bears free agent “shopping spree” to bring in “top-level” talent.
Bears Free Agent Spending Spree
- Right tackle Mike McGlinchey – 4 years, $60 million
- Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones – 4 years, $55 million
- Left guard Ben Powers – 4 years, $38 million
- Linebacker T.J. Edwards – 3 years, $37 million
- Edge defender Arden Key – 2 years, $17 million
- Wide receiver Michael Thomas, 1 year, $12 million
Add it all up and it would be a $219 million investment into an infusion of new talent. And it would be a welcome wave of newcomers, indeed.
The Bears’ biggest needs are along the offensive line, where Schrock predicts they throw $98 million worth of help toward McGlinchey and Powers. Sure, the Bears could opt to shell out for a center. But making moves to add stability at right tackle and upgrade at left guard is a good way about spending in free agency. Throwing another $109 million at improving the defensive front seven seems wise. Jones isn’t Daron Payne, but his résumé reminds me of Akiem Hicks’ before he leveled up in Chicago. Key has post-hype sleeper vibes and would make a nice addition to a group of defensive ends that lacks firepower. As for Edwards, he came up in conversation earlier as a Bears fit for a linebackers room that needs help.
And then there’s the Michael Thomas signing, which I would opine is Schrock’s boldest prediction.
Thomas, 29, has played in just 10 games since the start of the 2020 season. Injuries have kept him off the field in recent years. And in January, Thomas and the New Orleans Saints reportedly agreed to a contract restructuring that positions the team to cut him and create a chunk of salary cap space. So while Thomas isn’t a free agent just yet, there is a widely held belief in football circles that he’ll eventually make it onto the market. I’ll admit Thomas isn’t *MY* top option. But Thomas on a one-year “prove it” deal is appealing. Perhaps his Ohio State ties will put him in a circle with fellow Buckeyes product Justin Fields. Sometimes, it’s more about who you know than what you can do. And this is where those types of connections can be helpful.
Sure, signing Thomas would increase the Bears’ need to angle for a capable receiver prospect in the draft. But that would be a double-dip I’d have an interest in Chicago’s front office making. At a minimum, it would be a fun arc to follow.
Now can I really see ALL of Schrock’s predictions coming true? I sure can. But I can also see different names and similar contractual figures in those spots. You’re not into McGlinchey? That’s cool. Jawaan Taylor and Kaleb McGary are set to become free agents (if they don’t get the Franchise Tag). Maybe a different guard (Isaac Seumalo, Nate Davis) tickles your fancy. On the other side of the line, Javon Hargrave and Zach Allen are intriguing options. Did we mention Bobby Wagner is set to hit free agency? Adding him to that linebackers’ room could be fun to watch (although there are others who make even more sense). We know enough to understand how fluid free agency can be. But doesn’t that pique your curiosity? It does for me.
Because that is part of the fun of free agency. Particularly when you have nearly $100 million in available cap space. You could really play fantasy GM, plug in a bunch of different names and numbers, and really go to town. And if we’re doing it, and the beat writers are doing it, it’s hard to think GM Ryan Poles isn’t doing the same. Hopefully, his fantasies become reality. Bonus points if those fantasies lay the foundation for sustained success.