The Chicago Bears are hoping to improve their team through free agency this offseason. There have already been several rumors linking them to Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Albert Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Trey Burton. On Monday, they extended original-round contract tenders to three restricted free agents.
Those three players were Joshua Bellamy, Cameron Meredith, and Bryce Callahan. Since they are original-round tenders, the Bears would not receive any compensation if they chose to not match another team’s offer for that player. These three moves were interesting in their own ways. Let’s dive into each one and see if it was the right move to extend their contracts.
Extending Meredith was one of the easiest decisions general manager Ryan Pace has had to make in a while. In 2016, Meredith was arguably the Bears best wide receiver. With a quarterback trio of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley, Meredith caught 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns. He also averaged six yards per catch.
There has been some chatter that the Bears should have given Meredith a second-round tender instead of a first. Now, a second-round tender would have cost one million more in terms of salary and would have given the Bears a second-round draft pick from any team that would have outbid them for Meredith. In other words, it’s much safer than a first-round tender. There is always a chance a team could sneak up and steal Meredith away from Chicago, though it’s not likely.
Before Meredith tore his ACL, he was set to be the Bears number one wideout in 2017. He is playing for a contract extension in 2018 and I believe he will pick off right where he left off in the preseason. Again, this was the right move to make if your Pace. If things go bad in free agency Meredith may be set to be the Bears number one pass catcher once again.
Some were surprised when the Bears decided to extend an offer to wide receiver and special teamer, Joshua Bellamy. Last season, Bellamy set career highs in both receptions (24) and receiving yards (376). His value, however, is on special teams and that’s ultimately why the Bears decided to bring him back.
If he is going to stay on the team, he will need to clean up his off the field actions. Last season, he and receiver Tre McBride had some sort of altercation that led to McBride being cut. Pace has done a great job of cleaning up the locker room, so Bellamy shouldn’t be much of a problem in 2018.
At the end of the day, bringing Bellamy was kind of surprising move, but after a closer look, he is still a valuable special teams player, which explains why he will be with the Bears next season.
The third and final player that was tendered by the Bears on Monday was cornerback Bryce Callahan. The 26-year-old has been in Chicago since 2015 and has started 19 games. He is primarily a nickel corner but has played on the outside some. Ideally, he will be the Bears top nickel guy in 2018, unless Pace makes another move.
He only played in 12 games last season due to injuries. Still, Pro Football Focus had him as one of the best slot corners in all of the NFL.
Bryce Callahan's slot coverage statistics in 2017 👀 pic.twitter.com/LT1O0JArhM
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 21, 2018
Like Kyle Fuller in 2017, Callahan needs to prove he can stay on the field and produce in 2018. So far, he has been successful in the Vic Fangio Scheme. This was another move that makes a ton of sense if your Ryan Pace and the front office.
Overall, I believe Pace made the right moves on Monday. I would have liked if they gave Meredith a second-round tender, but he still should be on the team in 2018. Things are going to really start to pick up in the next two days. Make sure you keep it right here at The Loop Sports for all your in-depth Bears coverage.