By Bryan Dietzler
In the first posting, we reviewed 11 of 23 free agents that the Bears had coming out of a contract this offseason. In part two of our look at the Bears free agents, we will take a look at the remaining 12 free agents that the Bears have going into this offseason. There will be a look at how they performed in 2015 and what the Bears should do with them heading into this offseason’s free agency period.
Jacquizz Rodgers-RB-Rodgers had a decent start to the season seeing some spot duty from time to time but he broke his arm early on and was placed on injured reserve. He is a good back and can help out spelling the other running backs in short yardage and goal line situations. What happens with Rodgers could depend on what the Bears decide to do with Matt Forte because they will want to keep Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey and so Rodgers may be the odd man out depending on who else the Bears decide to bring in at the running back position. If they don’t keep Forte then Rodgers may be in the mix for this coming season. Look for the Bears to take a long look at Rodgers and see if he can be a part of their plans for the following season. Rodgers should get another shot in training camp to see if he makes the roster.
Patrick Omameh-G-Omameh saw some time in the lineup this season and his play was mediocre at best. He isn’t as good of a run blocker as he is a pass blocker and the Bears may want someone with a more complete set of skills than what Omameh has. The Bears will probably look elsewhere for depth at the guard position and let him walk in free agency this offseason. There are better options out there and the Bears should look at them.
Tracy Porter-CB-Porter stepped into the lineup for Alan Ball and did a remarkable job all season long. He could have almost been considered a shutdown corner for the way he played last season and the Bears would probably like to have him back. The problem with Porter is that he is getting up there in age and is somewhat of an injury risk so the Bears may, at the least, want to find some depth at the position. It’s a little bit of a toss-up as to what the Bears the Bears may do about Porter but it’s likely that they will sign him to another one-year deal and have him in as the starter opposite Kyle Fuller again in 2016. Hopefully Porter can stay healthy and can play up to the same level that he did in 2015 so look for him to be back with the Bears next season.
Sam Acho-LB-Acho started the 2015 season being waived but then he was brought back to the team and ended up being a starter at one of the outside linebacker positions as well as a solid player on special teams. Acho is a very positive player with a great attitude and while he may not be most talented player playing the position, he is solid and did well in 2015. The Bears will probably bring him back for another season perhaps as a starter or, if they find someone else to fill in, he could be a solid backup and a good special teams player. Clearly, the Bears should re-sign Acho and bring him back for another season.
Mitch Unrein-DT-Unrein played in spot duty this season and did have some good moments when he was able to see action. Unrein is not a starter and probably never will be in the league but he provides some needed depth at the position. The Bears could go either way with him this offseason and either bring him back to provide that additional depth or they could look elsewhere for help. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears bring him back for another season and have him be a backup at the defensive tackle position.
Chris Prosinski-S-Prosinski had some starting time in this season after Antrel Rolle went down with an injury and Harold Jones-Quartey didn’t play particularly well. The problem with Prosinski is that he didn’t play particularly well himself. He struggled and was eventually replaced by Jones-Quartey who played better than Prosinski at the end of the season. Prosinski did have some value on special teams but would that be enough to keep him on the team? The Bears may think that he provides good depth but he is certainly not a starting caliber player. Consider their retention of Prosinski a little bit dicey heading into the offseason. They may choose to re-sign him as a depth player and for special teams but if they feel they can find better talent elsewhere then they will probably let Prosinski walk. The Bears could go either way with him this offseason.
LaRoy Reynolds-LB-Reynolds saw some action for the Bears this season when injuries took hold of the linebacker corps and he actually played well when he was in the lineup. He received some praise from the coaching staff and was a quality player when he was in. The thing about Reynolds, though, is that he is not an every down starter and the Bears will be looking for some starting power in the interior of that linebacker group. Being that Reynolds did a nice job of filling in this season, the Bears would be wise to bring him back as a depth player and he could fill in if a starter goes out during the season. Look for Reynolds to be back with the Bears in training camp.
Nick Becton-OT-Becton didn’t see any action with the Bears last season as his role was strictly as a backup at the left tackle position. With Charles Leno Jr. and Jermon Bushrod at the left tackle spot Becton wasn’t needed. The Bears may choose to bring him back and give him a shot at being a depth player along the offensive line. Becton has some skill and ability and could fit in as a backup on the team. Consider it a toss-up for what the Bears will do with him this offseason. They could go either way here.
Sherrod Martin-S-Martin was active in 12 games for the Bears but wasn’t too productive having just three tackles. He is a special teams player for the most part but does provide some depth at the safety position for the Bears. He wasn’t good enough to crack the starting lineup at safety when there were injuries at the position so the Bears may choose to find some other players to fill their needs with depth at the position. Like so many other free agents the Bears have this offseason consider what they do with Martin a little up in the air as they could decide to bring him back for depth and special teams reasons or let him walk and bring in some additional talent at the position.
Deonte Thompson-WR-The Bears brought in Thompson to help on kick returns and when he was in there he did a decent job of returning kicks. The Bears may have found something with Thompson and will most likely re-sign him bringing him back as their kick returner for the 2016 season. He could also be a valuable asset as a backup wide receiver and showed a couple of flashes last year in that role. The Bears should bring Thompson back in training camp and have him compete for the kickoff return specialist position as well as a backup wide receiver spot.
Rob Housler-TE-Housler was brought in when starting tight end Martellus Bennett was put on injured reserve towards the end of the season. Housler saw some action but wasn’t counted on that much and didn’t see many targets. The Bears may have a shakeup at the tight end position this offseason if they feel that they can live without Bennett and all of his problems thus letting him go this offseason. That might leave the door open for Housler to stick with the team as a depth player giving him a shot at making the roster. Consider Housler’s status for next season “on the fence” depending on what happens with Bennett and what the Bears decide to do with their depth at this position.
Matt Forte-RB-Forte is perhaps the biggest free agent for the Bears this offseason and it’s difficult to gauge what the Bears are going to do about him. He had another solid season in 2015 (minus some injuries), has proven that even at the age of 30 he still has a lot left in the tank and could keep going for another couple of seasons. Chicago saw the emergence of Jeremy Langford Ka’Deem Carey and this might make the retention for Forte a moot point. Still, it would be nice for the Bears to have a three-headed attack with Forte in the lineup and have him complete his long and solid career as a Chicago Bear. What the Bears decide to do with Forte is a big mystery to this writer. Personally, they could go either way with Forte this offseason but the desirable way is to see him back in a Bears uniform.
Needless to say, the Bears have a lot of work to do this offseason to either re-sign these free agents or find additional talent to fill the holes that will be left by the departure of these players. Chicago has a solid front office and they should be able to get all of this figured by re-signing the right free agents and bringing in additional talent to fill out the roster. Keep an eye on the team this offseason as there will be many changes taking place.