Free agency officially opens up next week and the Chicago Bears will be active…the question is how active? The Loop Sports staff members answer questions about free agency and target players for the Bears to target here.
Question 1: How aggressive do you want Ryan Pace to be when free agency opens on Monday?
Jack Soble: There is a very fine line between aggressive and stupid, and I think now is the time for Ryan Pace to get as close to that line as possible. Pace has to understand that Super Bowl windows do not come around too often and they tend to close quickly. Now is the time to go after talented veterans who they know will not be on the team in two years, similarly to the LA Rams’ approach last March with Ndamukong Suh.
James Fox: Ryan Pace is aggressive by nature but I expect a more tempered approach to free agency this year. I’m curious to see what they add at running back and tight end. I think they will attempt to bring back nickelback Bryce Callahan at their price point but I think Adrian Amos signs elsewhere on Monday. The Bears have a talented roster and are a running back away from the Super Bowl.
Tom Kavanaugh: I am all for never settling, so I am on board with adding guys like Terrell Suggs, Justin Houston (if he gets cut), Eric Weddle, etc. for short term deal and then try to get Callahan extended. But I don’t want us to sign Tevin Coleman or Landon Collins and ignore slot corner. Jordan Howard might not be ideal but he is capable enough for what Naggy asks him to do and Callahan should be Pace’s first priority. I just don’t see the sense in aggressively throwing money at one player, when spreading out the minimal money that we have for veteran depth seems like the smarter move.
Alex Burdelik: In my opinion, I feel that Pace should play it relatively passive. Adding a couple of players to fill some holes, whether that’s in the secondary or at the Linebacker position (Tyrann Mathieu and Terrell Suggs would be my picks). With his draft day abilities, Pace should have no problem finding a bargain Running Back and pass rusher. I think the main goal should be not to overspend on one player so we have the ability to make more moves.
Charlie Smith: We all have seen just how aggressive Pace can get, but I don’t think this offseason is one where we see major additions as we have in the past few years. For one, the money simply isn’t there anymore to sign these big name players. On top of that, it is hard to find a big level of weakness on this roster outside of kicker obviously. I think this free agency will be more of adding some depth at positions like pass rusher such as Terrell Suggs, rather than landing a huge name such as Landon Collins.
Nick Petrusevski: The Bears and Ryan Pace shouldn’t be aggressive at all. Sure, they have a few needs to address, but for the first time in a long time, they can sit back and let players fall to them. It’s not going to be like last offseason and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, some players want to win. If they do, they’ll be playing for the Chicago Bears next season.
Question 2: Which position of need (assuming spots like S and Slot CB where the Bears have impending FAs count as needs) do the Bears need to upgrade the most?
Soble: Running back, because of Matt Nagy’s clear desire for a do-it-all player who can come reasonably close to emulating what he had in Kansas City with Kareem Hunt (on the field). Jordan Howard clearly is not that guy, and while he may be back next year, he can’t be Chicago’s primary ballcarrier again. It is followed by a slot corner and edge rusher, respectively. And kicker.
Fox: Running back is a clear need as well the obvious pressing issues at kicker. They could use some depth at cornerback and edge rusher as well. I would love to see a mercenary approach on defense by adding proven winners such as Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle.
Kavanaugh: I too would say running back but let’s be different. I’ll go edge pass rusher. “But Tom, Pace literally just traded for Khalil Mack, what are you talking about?” Yes, I know, Khalil Mack is awesome (I mean really awesome) but I am a firm believer in the idea that you can never have too much pass rush. When looking at the two teams that aren’t the Patriots that have won the Super Bowl in the past 4 years (2015 Broncos and 2017 Eagles), what did they have in common? Deep defensive line rotations. It’s a luxury when you have multiple guys that can get after the quarterback because that allows everyone to stay fresh. And let’s be honest, Leonard Floyd does some nice things but pass rushing isn’t his forte. Which is why I would love to add more veteran depth to this group, so we aren’t solely relying on Mack.
Burdelik: As much as running backs and pass rushers are a need, I’m personally going to go with kicker because I’m still bitter about what happened on January 6th. I was ecstatic when i heard the news that Cody Parkey was going to be cut at the beginning of the season. I had so much hope thinking we could target a Kicker in the draft or even sign a free agent, and then they sign Chris Blewitt. Blewitt got progressively worse as his college career went on, which does not sound good to me. I would love to see them target Will Lutz or Stephen Gostkowski if the price is right that is.
Smith: I think the common answer here is running back. Jordan Howard is a solid back, but this isn’t 1940 where you can hand the rock to a guy 30 times a game and just ask for him to fall forward. This offense needs a running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and also has the speed to hit the corner, neither of which Howard does well. After running back, I would say pass rusher and kicker are the biggest needs. Pass rushers will always have a spot on a roster, especially with a coordinator like Pagano where he will bring guys from every which way possible. As for kicker, I am not sure I will ever get over the double doink. Bears fans deserve a reliable kicker after what they’ve been through the past few years.
Petrusevski: I’m not worried about the defense. For the Bears to take the next step, the offense needs to get better. That starts with trading Jordan Howard and bringing in someone like a Ty Montgomery or TJ Yeldon. Tevin Coleman would be great, but he’s way too expensive.
Question 3: What should the Bears do with their main internal free agents, Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos?
Soble: Callahan should be at the top of their to-do list at the moment. This next part is an unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t even be negotiating with Amos beyond $3 or $4 million per year. He would be quite useful to teams whose defenses aren’t as strong because he is solid in coverage and tackling, but his skill set is obsolete in Chicago.
Fox: Callahan should be the priority but they shouldn’t deviate from their evaluation on either player. Both guys are replaceable for a reasonable sum.
Kavanaugh: The number one goal should be to retain Callahan but I don’t mind bringing back Amos on a team friendly deal. The problem is that the likelihood of that happening is slim.
Burdelik: Callahan should be their priority. Not only is he the better player, but in my opinion, Amos is much easier to replace than Callahan.
Smith: Strong slot corners are an absolute necessity in today’s NFL so Callahan should be the priority. I have always been an Adrian Amos guy as well. The safety position is more than just interceptions. However, I understand not giving him huge money. I would rather keep both than try and find their replacements in free agency.
Petrusevski: KEEP BOTH. However, if the market gets too crazy for either…let them walk. Honestly, I would love to see Eric Weddle in a Bears’ uniform. I would sign him to a 1-2 year deal and draft a safety as well.
Question 4: What is your worst-case scenario for the events that will transpire this week?
Soble: Isaiah Irving remaining the third outside linebacker, Sherrick McManis remaining the starting nickel corner, and Jordan Howard remaining the primary running back. Pace must stay active.
Fox: My worst case scenario would involve the club overpaying to keep their own free agents while committing to Jordan Howard at running back.
Kavanaugh: I think losing Callahan and not replacing him with a proven starter would trouble me quite a bit. I haven’t seen all of the potential slot corners in this year’s draft. But from what I have seen, this class ain’t it! At least from where the Bears are picking. Which is why I feel like we have to address that position in free agency.
Burdelik: Worst case scenario is losing Callahan, keeping Jordan Howard, and not signing an outside linebacker. Just pondering this question horrifies me.
Smith: I think losing Callahan is the obvious answer here. I also think getting nothing for Jordan Howard while you can be foolish seeing as we all know he is not the long term answer at running back.
Petrusevski: Committing too much money and too many years to a player. The Bears would be wise to do something similar to what the Rams did last offseason Sign players for a shorter amount of time, creating flexibility.
Question 5: If you could pick one free agent to be standing at Halas Hall and posing for a photo op in a Bears jersey on Thursday, who would it be?
Soble: Tevin Coleman is my dream scenario, but he would be too expensive. Suggs is my next choice but he will be mentioned multiple times below. Tyrann Mathieu is my guy, and he would take this defense to the next level.
Fox: Le’Veon Bell is the obvious answer here but the proposition is quite unrealistic. Adding Suggs to this unit in a part-time capacity would be a fun storyline and a big help to the defense.
Kavanaugh: I’ll throw a curveball here and say, Cameron Wake. I know he might be ancient but but he still knows how to get after the passer. I think he would be an ideal short term rotational pass rusher for the Bears.
Burdelik: Terrell Suggs! Great player added to a Phenomenal defense out of need rather than small upgrade. I’m not sure I can name a team that could run the ball on that front seven. Next would be Tyrann Mathieu, I would love to see him play next to Eddie Jackson. Lastly, if I saw Stephen Gostkowski stand next to Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy holding a Bears jersey, I would buy my Super Bowl tickets the next day.
Smith: As everyone has mentioned, Suggs would be a great addition, but I’ll go with a different former Raven here: Eric Weddle. He is more of a free safety than strong, but he has the versatility to play both. He provides another ball-hawking presence opposite Eddie Jackson. At 34, he won’t be looking to break the bank either and will most likely go to a contending team on a short-term deal, i.e., the Chicago Bears.
Editor’s note: Eric Weddle intends to sign with the Los Angeles Rams
Petrusevski: T-Sizzle. He’s everything the Bears are looking for and adds depth. He will also have a ton of knowledge to share with Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. Suggs is a winner and was great in Chuck Pagano’s system once before.
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