2018 Free Agency Preview: Chicago Bears
If you’re a true dynasty football die hard, the best part of the season is on the horizon. The actual games are great and all, but the period that covers the beginning of free agency through the kickoff to training camp is what gets a dynasty degenerate’s blood pumping. The first major milestone is free agency, a crucial period which will play a big part in determining not only the dynasty and redraft values of players in the immediate future, but also what teams may do in the NFL Draft.
Long a fantasy wasteland (save for Jordan Howard) under the hateful gaze of John Fox, hope springs eternal in the Windy City as new head coach and play caller Matt Nagy takes the reigns. Let’s take a look at what free agency may bring for the Bears.
Chicago’s list of pending free agents falls under the “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” category. No tears will be shed over the pending departures of Mark Sanchez, Benny Cunningham, Josh Bellamy and Dontrelle Inman, among others.
Zach Miller is also a free agent and was having a decent year before suffering a potentially career-ending injury.
On the offensive side of the ball, no one other than Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, and Jordan Howard should be safe, considering the Bears have languished near the bottom of every offensive category for several years. Tight end Adam Shaheen enters the second year of his rookie deal and is safe too. Same goes for perennial disappointment Kevin White, who will count $5.3 million in dead money against the cap if cut, making it a reasonable possibility he’ll stick around to tease fantasy players again in 2018.
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The most likely cut candidate here is Markus Wheaton, who is entering the final year of his deal and would count for just $750,000 in dead cap money. Wheaton was a picture of incompetence in 2017 with just three catches in 11 games, and there is little chance the Bears bring him back at a $5 million base salary.
They need everything, save for running back, where the Bears have two talented, young runners. Chicago could use an upgrade over Glennon in the backup QB spot. And while there is plenty to like about Shaheen and his three-TD rookie debut, they could also use a steady veteran presence to give Trubisky a reliable safety valve.
At wide out, the Bears are bereft of any talent or production and probably have the worst outlook in the league at the position, despite the fact that Cameron Meredith is expected to be return from a torn ACL in time for training camp.
With glaring needs everywhere and a bountiful $42.1 million in cap space, Chicago has every reason to be very aggressive in free agency. They’ve brought in an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy who has a blank slate to work with, and it would behoove the Bears to bolster the roster with some big names, both in free agency and the draft.
Nagy figures to bring a West Coast-style of offense to the Windy City. He has a mobile QB in Trubisky, and we can deduce that he’ll run a lot of play action, bootlegs, and quick timing routes, similar to the style of offense under Andy Reid. None of those types of WRs currently exist on the roster.
Jarvis Landry would be a perfect fit as a guy who runs great routes, has good hands, and can create after the catch. He won’t come cheap, but the Bears have plenty cap room and incentive to bring him aboard. Albert Wilson can also create some YAC and is a familiar name to Nagy, having played for him in Kansas City.
It’s a strong free agent class for WRs, and there are a lot of avenues through which the Bears could make significant upgrades to a moribund offense.
The Bears bring in at least two free-agent WRs, one splashy big name and a couple of cheaper options like Wilson or Ryan Grant. I mentioned Landry already, and I think he makes a ton of sense as a guy who can make life a lot easier for a developing QB. I predict the Bears ink Landry to a large contract and also swing for the fences in the NFL Draft by selection a wide out in the first round.