By Paul Wanecski
Last season simply couldn’t end fast enough for Chicago. From the carousel at Running Back, losing their starting Quarterback, a-nobody-crew at Wide Receiver and the fact that they had 71 different players see action in a Bears uniform this year should speak to how things really went. Chicago has been very active team in free agency, bringing in a massive number of new players. It is safe to say that they certainly tried to get better, but holding the third overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft, Chicago finds themselves with a variety of options moving into 2017.
Head Coach: John Fox
Career Record: 136-119
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Dowell Loggains
15th YPG, 14th Pass, 17th Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): Vic Fangio
18th YPG, 19th Pass, 16th Rush
Salary cap space isn’t an issue, even after the recent Windy City spending spree. Chicago is set to add over $9m in this year’s draft and still have $20m left after that. It is important to remember that unused salary cap space can roll over to next year. Even after signing starters at Safety, two at Cornerback, two Quarterbacks, two Wide Receivers, the team still can go to nearly any position in the draft.
This being a “make-or-break” year in Chicago, it is hard to imagine the team will want to make any more long-term commitments to players currently on the roster. Sometimes, the final option for a head coach is to convince the organization to move on from the incumbent quarterback and I doubt many in Chicago disagreed. Jay Cutler has been the definition of average throughout the vast majority of his career.
Not a single contract in Chicago needs to be restructured, as nearly all the big contracts feature year-to-year roster bonus money, which is a great way to avoid salary cap penalties when a player is cut. As an example, in 2018 RG Kyle Long is set to make $2.2m in base salary with a $5m roster bonus. Instead of providing player with a large signing bonus upfront, most large contracts have these year to year incentive roster bonuses sprinkled in. Why would a team do this? Well, in 2018, even though Long has four years remaining on his contract, Chicago would be able to cut him and save $4.3m against the cap because instead of giving him a signing bonus that gets a prorated cap figure across all years, they put these roster bonuses in to reward players with instant cash if they are still on the roster at the start of every year.
Kyle Fuller, CB, has heard rumors of shifting to safety this offseason and considering how weak they are throughout the entire secondary, it is hard to argue with that.
Alshon Jeffery –WR- was a big loss for the Bears, however, with no promise as to who was going to be throwing the ball, why resign him even though you have the money? He has had a history of injuries which clearly do not favor the aging players.
Brian Hoyer – QB – Lost to San Francisco (wow, we haven’t had to type that sentence much the last few years). Hoyer was fine for the Bears considering what he was being paid. His year was shortened by injury, which given how the team played, probably helped him since he was barely on the field.
Matt Barkley – QB – Following the Quarterback train to San Francisco (would it be a trolley?) is Barkley, who was second only the Matt Ryan for completions that resulted in first downs last year (a whopping 41% of his completions resulted in first downs). That’s about all the positives though. Barkley threw to nearly no-one last year and showed the total lack of mobility that was expected. No big loss here.
Logan Paulsen – TE – ALSO going to the 49ers….seriously…why?
Holding the third pick will allow Chicago to either trade down (recommended here), or take what they see to be the best player available. Nearly every position is on the table for them.
Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State) instantly improves the secondary. Does Chicago have more pressing needs? Sure do, but the short term investment of cornerbacks this offseason is not going to be enough to help them in the long run.
Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M) should not be on the board by now, but we said the exact same thing about Leonard Williams before his slide to the Jets. He is no-brainer pick if teams hit the freak-out button.
DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson) can Chicago afford to miss on the Quarterback? They have Mike Glennon (see free agent section below) on what is basically a year-to-year contract, so they don’t HAVE to draft a quarterback. While I don’t think Watson is the best QB in the class, Chicago might see that differently.
Jonathan Allen (DE/DT, Alabama) if Myles Garrett is gone, Allen is a logical fit for the Bears. At Alabama, he would play the end during passing situations (5 technique) before sliding inside on rushing downs. This guy will be a great boost to any defensive line in football.
Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) if the 49ers don’t draft him, I would be totally shocked.
Jamal Adams (S, LSU) with the secondary a mess, Adams would be a great tandem to pair with new SS Quintin Demps.
Mike Williams/Corey Davis (WR, Clemson/Western Michigan) – Which player you prefer depends on what kind of receiver you want. Williams will be the tall, vertical threat. Davis is the gritty, strong, forceful receiver you need. The cupboards are sporting a depth chart of Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal, and the new free agent acquisitions. While not the smartest selection, either player makes your team better.
Mitchell Turbisky (QB, North Carolina) come on, like we haven’t seen a reach for Quarterbacks the last few drafts….
Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez – QB – to alleviate all concerns neither are the long-term option. Sanchez is really just a back-up at this point and Glennon is on what could be considered a one-year contract, since he could be released next season for a small cap penalty.
Quintin Demps – SS – Walks in as the best safety on the team, regardless of his age. Chicago recovered on 3 fumbles all last season, so adding a turnover machine in Demps makes a lot of sense.
Dion Sims – TE – A very expensive replacement to Logan Paulsen will play tandem with Zach Miller.
Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara – CB – Assuming that Chicago will also add a cornerback (or two) via the draft, these two will plug up an awful secondary…for now
Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton – WR – Kendall Wright is a great value and will be the go-to 3rd down receiving option. Wheaton comes from Pittsburg and injuries sidelined what could have been a big season for him. Chicago absolutely overpaid for his potential because he is still young.
A Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale: 2017
On the Clock: 2016 Chicago Bears
On the Clock: 2015 Chicago Bears