By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears have a lot of money under the salary cap going into the free agency period and would be wise to use that money to add some free agents and enhance their roster. There is a bevy of solid free agent possibilities out there for the Bears to consider and they need to take a long hard look at what is available so that they can make a difference with this team for next year.
Of course Chicago has its own group of free agents to sign and the question is, will they bring back a majority of those players that are familiar with the system or will they go out and get a bunch of new players? The Bears do need some additional talent in several different areas and should be able to use this free agency period wisely and to their advantage to make this a better team.
There are several free agents available this offseason that the Bears could be interested in. The following is a look at some of these top free agent possibilities and how they might fit in with the Bears this offseason.
The Bears may let their star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery walk in free agency so they would then be in the market to pick someone up to replace him should that happen. The free agent market for wide receivers is thin and the Bears may just need a reliable possession receiver to go along with Kevin White (who is a bit of an unknown right now). There are three possibilities that sort of stand out when looking at the available free agent wide receivers.
Anquan Boldin, currently of the San Francisco 49ers, is getting up there in age but could be a good possession receiver for the Bears for a season or two. It’s not assured that the 49ers are going to sign him so he may be available. Another possibility is Lance Moore who is currently with the Detroit Lions. The Bears saw what Moore can do and even though he is getting up there in age he still has something left. Yet another wide receiver that may be of some interest to the Bears (and who we know for sure is not going to sign with his current team) is the Cincinnati Bengals Mohamed Sanu. Sanu would be an interesting addition to the Bears and could help them improve their wide receiver corps.
Of course bringing in another wide receiver will depend on whether the Bears resign Jeffery or not. All indications point to the fact that they will bring him back but you never know. At least they might have some options to work with. The three previously mentioned could be the best three options available.
It’s possible that the Bears may release tight end Martellus Bennett after having some trouble with him during the previous season. If they bring back Zach Miller that leaves them with one decent tight end but they will need some additional help to fill in the gap. The tight end market in the free agency period offers some help but most of the tight ends available are second-tier players or aging players that might be able to step in and play a season or two with the Bears.
One option at tight end could be Vernon Davis. Davis had a less than stellar season last year but he wasn’t used that often and still has something left in the tank. He could be a good option for Chicago to look at in free agency. The Indianapolis Colt’s Coby Fleener is another option that Chicago may want to consider. Fleener is a solid tight end that can both block and catch the ball and could be an asset to the team. Finally there is current New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson. Watson had a very productive season in 2015 and the Saints may re-sign him but if he isn’t he could draw some interest from the Bears. He is a solid receiver and can block so Chicago could have their feelers out for him this offseason.
The guard position is a little rocky as the Bears are solid at one guard spot but not so solid at the opposite spot. The Bears have some free agent possibilities themselves there and if they chose not to re-sign them then the Bears will be in the hunt for additional talent at the position.
The guard pool is going be stocked with second-tier players that may just be able to come in and play for the Bears next season. There is some starting talent, however, that should be available depending on whether or not their current teams decide to resign them. One of those players is Jahri Evans of the New Orleans Saints. It looks very likely that Evans is not going to be resigned by New Orleans so the Bears may want to take a look at him and possibly bring him in. Another player that could draw some interest from Chicago is Evan Mathis of the Denver Broncos. He was part of a solid offensive line last year and could be the right fit for the Bears. Finally, another standout offensive guard that could work well in Chicago is soon to be former Seattle Seahawk J.R. Sweezy. If the Seahawks don’t resign him he would be a find addition to the Bears and could be their starter opposite Matt Slauson. The Bears need to upgrade at the guard position and any one of these three players would be a big improvement.
Going on the defensive side of the ball now the Bears need help at several different positions. Looking from the inside out, we will first take a look at the defensive tackle position. The free agent market will be heavy with good quality defensive tackles and if the Bears don’t choose to sign their free agents then they could take a look at some of the free agent defenders that could be available if they aren’t resigned by their current teams. One interesting player at the defensive tackle position is Kendrick Ellis of the Minnesota Vikings. Ellis is a pretty solid performer and would be a welcome addition to the Bears. Another name that has been floated around that could be a possibility for the Bears to bring in and give a one or two year deal is current St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Fairley has quite a reputation in the league and may not fit well with the Bears but he is a pretty stout defender in the middle and could work wonders for the Bear’s depth. Finally, another player who may or not be available that the Bears could show some interest in is Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji. It would be interesting to see a former Green Bay Packer in a Bears uniform and Raji could provide the Bears with a lot of depth and power at the position. The Packers will probably want to bring him back so he may not be available.
The Bears have Sam Acho as one of their outside linebackers but he is a free agent and it’s not assured that the Bears will bring him back. If they don’t they will need someone solid opposite Pernell McPhee to step up and play. Of the outside linebackers available there are four that really stand out that could be possibilities for the Bears this offseason. These players could easily be re-signed by their current teams but if they get loose the Bears should take a look at them.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has given the Bears fits since coming to Minnesota and it would be interesting to see him in a Bears uniform. He is getting up there in age but still has something left and could fit with Chicago nicely. One player that probably won’t get away from his current team but would be nice to have if possible is Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs. He is very productive and would be a good fit in the Bear’s defense.
A player that may be courted by several teams but could wind up with the Bears is Bruce Irvin of the Seattle Seahawks. Irvin is part of that strong Seahawks defense and is a very solid player. Chicago could use someone like him to play on the outside and compliment McPhee. Finally, the biggest name in the free agency this offseason (if he doesn’t get resigned by his current team) is Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Miller is going to command a lot of money if the Broncos don’t re-sign him but the Bears appear to have that money. If they could bring Miller in that would provide them with a huge boost and make their defense a lot better. If the money is right and he’s available the Bears just might make a run at him.
The biggest need on the team for the Bears is at inside linebacker. This year’s group of free agents at that position isn’t that strong but there are at least a couple players that could fit in with the Bears if they decide to look for free agents. One of those players, who may nor may not be around, is Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. Johnson has been solid and even though he is aging he could still be a good fit for the Bears. The question is, will the Chiefs bring him back or will they let him walk? If they do let him go then the Bears would be wise to take a look at him. Another player that has been floated around as a strong possibility for the Bears to take a look at (including comments coming from the player himself) is Danny Trevethan of the Denver Broncos. Trevethan played with Fox when he was in Denver and Fox knows him well. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Broncos then it might almost be a “lock” in the fact that Trevethan could be coming to the Bears this offseason.
If the Bears decide not to re-sign Tracy Porter then they could be in the market for a starter opposite Kyle Fuller at the cornerback position. The Bears may draft a player here at some point but if they want someone that can step in and start right away they should look towards free agency to fill their needs and help keep it from becoming a serious issue. One player that could be available and that might fill their needs is New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara. He has the talent that the Bears would want in a cornerback and still has a couple years or more left in him of playing time. Another possibility is the Carolina Panthers Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan has been around the NFL for a while and knows a lot. He would be a valuable asset to the Bears.
Finally, Chicago may be in the market for a new safety depending on what they decide to do with the often injured Antrel Rolle. If Rolle comes back healthy then the Bears would have both he and Adrian Amos back there so they just might have to add some depth at the position. The safety position in free agency has some strength at the top but gets pretty weak after the top three players are gone.
One safety that would be an ideal fit in Chicago if he ever gets loose from his current team is Kansas City Chief Eric Berry. Berry had a stellar season in 2015 and would be a welcome addition to any team. He would ask for a lot of money but it would probably be well worth it and it would be great to see him with the Bears. Another possibility that could be good for Chicago is having them look at Louis Delmas of the Miami Dolphins. Delmas has been a steady performer throughout his career in the NFL and could possibly be a good fit for the Bears. Finally, it appears as if Eric Weddle is not going to be back with the San Diego Chargers. Weddle, although getting up there in age, still has some talent and ability left in him and could be a good fit in Chicago.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to free agents and there are many more available out there for the Bears to look at. Chicago has a lot of money under the salary cap to work with so they should be able to sign several free agents to help bolster their roster making the team much better than it was in 2015. Look for the Bears to spend wisely, that is their nature, but take the time and effort to bring in quality players that are going to help them win games in the long run.