In an ideal world, General Manager Ryan Pace would be more focused on the NFL draft coming in to the offseason. In reality, coming off yet another losing season, Pace has to keep a close eye on players set to hit the open market.
In the past, teams have gone money crazy in Free Agency only to find out the player wasn’t worth half of what they paid for, such as Brock Osweiler, Malik Jackson, and Coby Fleener. Aside from Osweiler, Jackson and Fleener aren’t bad players, but they’re not worth the 90 and 36 million dollar contacts they were given this past offseason.
The fact that Ryan Pace signed star middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman in 2016 for just 12 million over three years is absolutely mind-boggling. Alongside Freeman at middle linebacker, Bears signed Danny Trevathan to an affordable 24.5 million dollar contract over four years to solidify the middle of the defense. Pace has been one of the bright spots in a struggling organization and cannot afford to miss on this Free Agency.
Without further ado, here is a list of 5 players in Free Agency the Bears should look at bringing to Chicago. Keep in mind, this is not a list of the top 5 players in FA, just 5 players the Bears should target.
- Alshon Jeffery,CHI- Locking up the 26 year old Wide Receiver should be Pace’s top priority. Yes, there have been some injury concerns in the past but in 2016 he was healthy for every game he was available to play(12 games) and played all 16 games in 2013 and 2014. Coming into year three for Kevin White should have made this decision on Alshon easier for the Bears, but injuries have derailed the beginning of his career. Without a true number one receiver behind Alshon, Pace cannot let him walk. This will only create another hole in an already depleted team.
- Eric Berry, KC- The lack of playmakers was a huge contributor to a 3-13 team this past season. The Bears were dead last in the NFL in takeaways with 11 which is also a franchise low in that field. To say we need a ball hawk in the secondary to pair up with hard-hitting safety Adrian Amos is an understatement. Berry, the 28 year old safety, had four interceptions and a forced fumble leading the Chiefs to the playoffs in 2016. He is worth every penny.
- Trumaine Johnson, LA- The 26 year old cornerback played opposite Janoris Jenkins for a few years before Jenkins hit the open market last year and cashed in big with the New York Giants. I would expect Johnson to do the same if LA cannot sign him long-term or place the Franchise Tag on him once again. If he were to hit the open market I would expect the Bears to make a strong push for him. To this point, the Kyle Fuller experiment hasn’t gone well and Pace has no ties to him considering the previous regime drafted him. Johnson would step right in to the #1 CB role opposite Tracy Porter. Although Porter has been a valuable asset, he does turn 31 before the start of next season. Expect Bears to bring in more help at CB.
- Riley Reiff, DET- The 28 year old Offensive Tackle is versatile and can play both sides of the line. There are no guarantees outside of the interior line of Sitton, Whitehair, and Long. Charles Leno, Jr.(LT) and Bobby Massie(RT) are average at best. Ryan Pace needs to bring in competition at OT at the very least and Reiff could be that guy for the right price.
- Kirk Cousins, WAS- This is my absolute wild card pick because I do not see the 28 year old QB to get out of Washington. The Bears are clearly in need of finding their next franchise quarterback and Cousins would fill that role the day he walks in the building. There won’t be a need for grooming or development for a few years like you would with a young rookie. He is a true leader and polished veteran. This is a dream scenario for the Bears.
The 2017 league year and free agency period begins at 4 p.m., ET on March 9th. Keep an eye out for the Bears to take a long look at these five players.