However, all is not lost. The Bears roughly $11 million to spend and there are still some guys out there worth signing. I have list of players who remain available and tantalizing for Chicago and provided analysis for each one.
Bryce Callahan, Slot Corner
Wait, what? Bryce Callahan? He shouldn’t be on this list. The Bears signed Buster Skrine to replace him.
That might have been the plan at first, but Callahan’s market seems to be much slower than expected. This tells me that teams might not be offering the amount of money that he wants. If this is the case, the possibility of Callahan returning back to Chicago on a one-year prove it deal is very real.
The Skrine signing should not stop the Bears from bringing Callahan back. We all know how valuable slot corner has become in today’s NFL, and Callahan is one of the best in the league. Unfortunately, Skrine is not.
Justin Houston, Edge Rusher
Stab/Club/Rip by Justin Houston (@JHouston50). The stab makes the blocker think long arm (power), getting them off balanced. Club/Rip to finish the move & clear the blocker! #PassRush pic.twitter.com/pksWh4HDN7
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) March 11, 2019
Justin Houston might not be the player that he once was but this dude can still get after the quarterback. He is coming off a nine-sack year in 12 regular season games, per Pro Football Reference. That’s excellent production for his age and he could be even more productive in a three-man rotation with Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack.
At this point, Houston would be my top target out of the current available free agents. I would easily be willing to pay him as much as $9 million per year, even in a reduced role, because I believe he can make that much of an impact.
Adrian Phillips, Safety
Bears defensive coordinatorChuck Pagano loves to run a ton of dime packages, meaning he likes having six DBs on the field at once. These packages usually consist of three corners and three safeties. The Bears have the two excellent coverage safeties in Eddie Jackson and Clinton-Dix, but they don’t have a true box safety, which is exactly what Adrian Phillips is.
Phillips is a hybrid strong safety/linebacker that can cover big slots and tight ends. He is better at defending the run than Clinton-Dix, so I feel more comfortable playing Phillips in our base defense. I think he would be perfect fit in the Bears’ safety rotation at the right price.
Shaquil Barrett, Edge Rusher
Shaquil Barrett not being signed is one of the weirder truths that currently exist in this free agent market. I know his stats won’t jump out at you, but his minimal production makes sense when you factor in that he has been third rusher throughout his time in Denver because of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and Bradley Chubb.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) September 16, 2017
He displays a natural ability to win one-on-one pass rush reps on tape, and only being 26 makes him even more appealing. (Also, for what it’s worth, he has graded out very well for Pro Football Focus throughout his career).
This is why I really don’t know what his price range is. I imagine he wants a handsome pay day, but he doesn’t really have the production to show for it. I could see him seeking a one year prove it deal to try to obtain the sack numbers he needs to get paid long term, and if that is the case, I would strongly advise Ryan Pace to see what his market is.
The Bears are in a win-now window, meaning they need to go for it all while they can. Barrett might not be on the team long-term, but one productive year might be all it takes to put them over the top.
Follow Thomas on Twitter (@tomkavanaugh44) for more Bears news and opinion