Now that the Free Agency/Franchise Tag dust has settled, it’s clear there is one top-flight free agent wide receiver that will be hitting the open market and it’s Vincent Jackson. Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson and Wes Welker got tagged,while Stevie Johnson signed an extension. That leaves Jackson and Colston among the top unrestricted free agents for whom teams will be vying.
Last week we discussed the possibility of a soft market for the top targets. I’d like to backtrack on that and say that report was erroneous. Given the players that won’t hit the open market means that top guys who did will command top dollar.
We can get at least a ballpark idea of what kind of contract VJax will be seeking. He’s sure to be seeking more than the 5-year $36.25 million that Johnson got, with nearly $20 million in guaranteed money.
Jackson will be the top target and will have multiple deals to chose between. Do the Bears have the salary cap room to make a deal? Sure they do, but so do a lot of other teams. Will new GM Phil Emery take the plunge into the deep end of the pool and go for the big fish Jackson or will he stay in the shallow end and try to nab a few smaller fish.
If the Bears go for Jackson, they’ll use up a decent chunk of their estimated $30 million in salary cap room. Plus, they have nearly $8 million accounted for in the Forte deal. They have to leave themselves a little bit of room to sign a backup quarterback, a tight end, a cornerback, a defensive end and try to re-sign some of their own free agents like Amobi Okoye, Corey Graham and Craig Steltz. If they commit big dollars to Jackson, they might not be able to do the rest of their offseason shopping.
Should the Bears go all-in on Jackson, even if it means skimping on other areas for improvement? With as many holes as the Bears have to fill, would they be better off spreading the money around? It’s a big bet to make. Is VJax enough of a sure thing?