With free agency about to officially begin, the Bears have plenty of needs they have to address. The O-Line, QB, WR, and defensive depth all need upgrades. Some of these needs can be filled with re-signing the teams own free agents like Allen Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson. However, Ryan Pace and Co. will need to find some players on the market to make improvements to this roster.
Free Agent Target: WRs Allen Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson
Both Robinson and Patterson played a key role in the Bears offense. Robinson is the No. 1 WR and has caught everything thrown his way, regardless of where the pass went. Patterson plays a swiss army knife role, producing in the rushing, passing, and return game. With futures uncertain for Anthony Miller and Javon Wims, the Bears will only be left with Darnell Mooney and Riley Ridley as returning receivers. That’s concerning since Mooney is a deep threat/slot receiver while Ridley hasn’t gotten much playing time. Retaining Robinson on either a franchise tag or extension should be priority No. 1 for the Bears. Patterson’s value is up there as well. Signing him to a two-three year around $4-$5 million per season would be ideal.
Free Agent Target: CB Troy Hill
Hill has been with the Rams since 2015 and has been an underrated playmaker. He has seven career interceptions with two pick-sixes in limited playing time. Hill is a physical, valuable veteran and would help the Bears secondary who lacked depth late in the season. At 30 years old, Hill would be a great rotational player who can fill in for injuries, even handling a starting role. Young players like Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley can learn a lot from the veteran Hill. Additionally, he wouldn’t cost the Bears their entire cap space.
Free Agent Target: QB Alex Smith
Now, there are multiple routes the Bears can take at QB. They can look at the draft, acquire a veteran, re-sign Mitch, or stick with Nick Foles who has guaranteed money left on his contract. A possible route I’ve heard is sticking with Foles and drafting a rookie. Seems smart, but if the Bears don’t want to waste time, Foles isn’t the answer for this offense. The Bears could also clear out their current QB room by trading or cutting Foles and not re-signing Mitch. By signing Alex Smith to a team-friendly deal, the Bears will add a battle-tested veteran who has connections with Matt Nagy from their KC days. Then, the Bears can draft a rookie QB to learn from Smith, who would be a bridge to the rookie. Chicago is a logical landing spot for Smith, and it’s worth monitoring the Bears interest in him.
Free Agent Target: S Keanu Neal and S Malik Hooker
Both Neal and Hooker have faced significant injuries early in their careers. However, both are still loaded with potential. Neal and Hooker are both 25 years young. S Tashaun Gipson is a free agent and the Bears will need to decide if they want him back, want to draft a safety, or look at the market which has many intriguing players such as these two. Personally, I would love to pair Neal with Eddie Jackson. They are two physical, ball-hawking safeties who would play very well together. A prove-it deal could be enough to land one of them.
Free Agent Target: K Cairo Santos
Santos was a stud for the Bears. After Eddy Pineiro went down with an injury before the season even started, Santos played the hero role for a Chicago team looking to find a stable kicker. Santos did just that, connecting on 36 of 37 extra point attempts and 30 of 32 field goal attempts. He may cost more following his breakout season, but the Bears should consider bringing back Santos on at least a two-year deal.
Free Agent Target: OTs Germain Ifedi, Rick Wagner, Kelvin Beachum
The Bears are cutting ties with OT Bobby Massie to save $5 million in cap space. With Germain Ifedi also a free agent, the tackle position will need attention. All three of these players are veterans. Beachum, 32, is coming off a good season with the Cardinals. Wagner, 31, was cut by the Packers after he filled in for the injured David Bakhitari. Wagner played well in a starting role. Finally, Ifedi, 26, is coming off a pretty solid season with the Bears. He had his struggles, but turned it around with the rest of the O-Line late in the season. There are many OT prospects available in the draft, with many mock drafts pointing at OT for the Bears at No. 20. They could add both a veteran and rookie to a rebuilding offensive line.
Bears Free Agents That Should be Re-Signed: WRs Allen Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, S Deon Bush, OLB Barkevious Mingo, DE Brent Urban, K Cairo Santos
Other Potential Free Agent Targets (some are unlikely due to cap constraints): WR Kenny Golladay (dependent on ARob contract), WR Corey Davis, S Marcus Williams, S Anthony Harris, OT Alejandro Villanueva, QBs Cam Newton and Andy Dalton