Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (96) rests during a timeout in the first quarter of the game with the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Vikings win 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Leaving you hanging much less than a Tom Brady high-five, it’s your Chicago Bears week 16 free agent stock watch:
Due to Henry Melton’s recent arrest — which we’ll get to in a moment — Ratliff’s value to the Bears just increased. As for his play on the field, it’s tough to positively look at anything that a Bears’ defensive player has done. However, Ratliff has at least proven that he can still hold his own on an NFL field. He’s not the dominant, Pro Bowl-caliber player than he used to be, but he could be an integral part of the Bears’ rebuilding process on defense, especially with so many free agents on the horizon.
Julius Peppers continues to play invisible football for the Bears and Wootton is a much more affordable alternative to Peppers’ monstrous contract. He’s never likely to become a Pro Bowler, but Wootton — much like Ratliff — may be a necessary re-signing for the Bears as they try to somehow, some way transform the current defense into something respectable next season. His ability to play the three-technique this season adds great value to the team, especially with Melton, Ratliff and Nate Collins all free agents as well.