Once the Bears cut loose most of the dead weight known as their 2017 free agent class, they will be free to spend around $80 million to restock their talent pool with some new blood. The question is who do they spend it on? Right now, the free agent market looks relatively weak and will get weaker as teams start franchise tagging and re-signing their own players.
This is why the Bears should be closely monitoring what other teams in the NFL do to shed some cap space of their own and in turn add some luster to free agency.
Here are some potential cap casualties who the Bears should (and should not) target in what will be a critical month leading up to the start of the new league year.
Players the Bears Should NOT Target
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Nope. Don’t even think about it. Stay away, Ryan Pace. On the surface, Bryant had an adequate 2017 season, catching 86 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. Yes, if signed by the Bears he would be the best receiver on the roster (which is true of everybody on this list). But if you take a closer look you’ll find a receiver on the wrong side of 30 coming off a down year in which he somewhat clashed with his team’s young quarterback.
He’ll catch on somewhere due to name recognition, but I would not want him anywhere near my football team.
Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks
Here was have another player who is past his prime and has character issues.
Michael Bennett at his peak was arguably the most underrated player in football and was a key cog in the dominant Seahawks’ defenses of 2012-2015. However, the Seahawks are going to have to make some painful decisions, like the one to cut Bennett. There is a case to bring him aboard-versatility, veteran experience, and he still has some production in him, but he would not fill a major need ( he would likely play defensive end in Vic Fangio’s defense) and I tend not to appreciate players who dive at other players’ knees in an attempt to injure them during a kneel down.
Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos
You’d think a player coming off his fifth straight Pro Bowl should be in high demand for a team with a need at cornerback but think again. Talib is going to be 32-years-old later this month and is coming off a down season by his standards. He also has some on and off the field issues (sorry Michael Crabtree). It seems to me that Talib is in for a decline and very soon. Let someone else be saddled with a multi-year contract for an aging veteran player on the downswing.
Players the Bears SHOULD Target
Robert Quinn, EDGE, Rams
It’s no secret that the Bears need a capable, preferably elite, pass rusher to pair with Leonard Floyd. The Rams could save $11 million by cutting Robert Quinn and it seems like that will happen sooner rather than later. The Bears should be all in on the 28-year-old.
The Bears should give him a front-loaded contract that they can get out of early in case his injury problems flare up, but do whatever they can to team him up with Floyd, Hicks, Goldman, and Trevathan.
You hear that? That’s Vic Fangio cheering for joy.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
The Packers have quite the predicament. After Aaron Rodgers, their two highest paid players are Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, two wideouts who at the moment are adequate number two receivers and that’s being generous. Let’s not forget about Davante Adams‘s monster contract and that is way too much money to be spending on the receiver position.
Either Nelson or Cobb will have to go and I don’t think Rodgers will let Nelson leave.
Buying low on Cobb after a down year could pay off big time for the Bears. He would be a great guy to pair with Mitch Trubisky and be a solid veteran to have around the team.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders
Crabtree is another guy on the heels of a so-so season, but much of that can be attributed to Derek Carr‘s massive regression and the Raiders as a whole being a huge disappointment. Crabtree is 30 but only one season removed from 1000 yards and is generally reliably healthy, missing no more than two games in any of his past four seasons.
For Bears fans pining after a red zone threat to fill Alshon Jeffery‘s overpaid shoes (yes, I saw the touchdown catch in the Super Bowl. I also saw zero catches in the final 3 quarters), look no further. Crabtree is a consistent eight to nine touchdown guy, producing almost equally as Jeffery but for less than half the cost.
All indications are that he will be let go and the Bears would be wise to pounce.