Fixing the Bears Defense (Part 4: NFL Free Agents)

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After resigning Tim Jennings, the Bears have just two cornerbacks under contract (Isaiah Frey). Teams normally carry at least 5, so the Bears have some work to do at the position. They have to make a decision on Charles Tillman and the rest of the CBs from the 2013 roster (Bowman, Hayden), but my guess is the Bears will bring in one or two corners from either free agency or the draft.

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Alterraun Verner TEN (25): Was one of the best CBs in the league the first half of the season (12.2 grade through 8 games) before wearing down in the 2nd half (-2.7). Verner still finished as the 12th rated CB in the league according to Pro Football Focus. He has improved every year so far and still has untapped potential. Verner has all the tools to be a shut-down corner and good hands to make plays on the ball (5 int in 2013). Verner’s primary weakness is tackling and he missed 8 in 2013. There are a few bigger names on the CB market (Talib, Grimes, V. Davis) which might keep Verner’s price somewhat reasonable.

Chris Harris DEN (24): Versatile CB who can play in the slot or outside. He’s small but plays physical. Harris has been a top 10 corner for two years in a row according to PFF but still isn’t a household name. At 24 his best years are ahead of him and he could be a solid addition to the Bears secondary for years to come.

Sam Shields GB (26) : Shields has become one of the Packers best CBs which would make it that much sweeter if the Bears could steal him away. Shields has a good combination of size, speed, and strength but is inconsistent in coverage. He’s still young and if he can become a little more consistent, Shields has the potential to be one of the top CBs in the league. If the Bears can improve while simultaneously hurting the Packers, they should pull the trigger.

Walter Thurmon SEA (26): Great coverage corner with top-end speed who is also solid against the run. What’s not to like? He’s missed 30 games in 4 seasons. The missed games make him a risky signing, but when healthy he’s a starting caliber corner who will come at a discount due to the checkered medical history and questionable off-field decision making. I’d roll the dice.

Cory Graham BAL (28): Remember this guy? The Bears had him for 5 years and refused to play him on anything other than special teams. He left to sign a two-year deal with the Ravens and started 17 games the last two seasons. Graham finished with a positive grade from PFF the last two years and could be a solid 2nd CB for the Bears.