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Chicago Bears Free Agency Targets (Part 2)

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Tier 4 – Post-Hype Sleepers ($1-$3M)

These guys never lived up to the expectations that come with a high draft pick and are being cut loose by their original teams. Sometimes it takes players a while to find their niche and other times guys just weren’t worth a high pick. This tier has the most upside, but also the most risk.

DT Ziggy Hood, Steelers (27. $3M) – One of the keys to free agency is finding players who were being misused by their old teams. Hood definitely qualifies. He was a stud in college as a 4-3 DT, but the Steelers thought he was a good fit as a 3-4 DE. I think they would be the first to admit that they were wrong. Hood could still live up to his first round pick potential if he was put in a better situation, preferably as a 3-technique DT. It just so happens that the Bears don’t have any of those on their roster right now even though Emery has identified it as the most important position on the defense. Hood’s 1st round pick status and relative youth will drive his price up a little more than his production deserves, but I think he has enough talent to be worth around 3yr, $9M.

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CB Chris Cook, Vikings (27, $2M) –At 6’2, 212 Cook would be an ideal fit across from Tim Jennings. The former 2nd round pick was a disappointment for the Vikings, but sometimes it takes a few years for a player to adapt to the NFL. Cook hasn’t shown many signs of being a starting caliber corner yet, but the talent is there and perhaps a different scheme, a change of scenery, and better coaching could make a difference and unlock Cook’s considerable potential. I think the Bears cover-2 scheme is the ideal fit for Cook’s skill-set and a $2M dice roll makes sense to me.

CB Derek Cox, Broncos (27, $1.5M) – Another big corner who has disappointed so far in his NFL career. A former 3rd round pick of the Jags, Cox struggled in his first two years in the league before turning in a decent year in 2012 right before he hit free agency. The Chargers ponied up big money (4yrs, 20M) for Cox only to see him revert to his rookie form. They gave up on him after only one season to free up cap space. The Bears could swoop in and sign Cox presumably for next to nothing and have a 6-2 corner with excellent speed to try to develop across from Jennings. If it doesn’t work, then they wasted a mil or two. If he plays like he did in 2011, then the Bears have a big corner with pro bowl talent for cheap.

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CB Brandon Browner, Seahawks (30, $3M) – He’s going to miss the first 4 games of the 2014 season due to his frequent off-field issues and he may be too much of a headache for the Bears to take on. Those off-field headaches will also drive his price down much lower than his talent warrants. If Browner can stay out of trouble he is exactly the big, aggressive, play-making corner the Bears need to replace Charles Tillman. I wouldn’t break the bank for Browner, but if he can be signed for around $2M per year, then I think he’s worth the risk.

S Malcolm Jenkins. Ohio St (26, $2M) – I’ve heard a lot of people calling Jenkins a priority target for the Bears, but I just don’t see why. He has never lived up to his first round draft slot and has had a negative grade every year of his 5-yr career with the Saints. He does have the physical tools to be an excellent safety, but if the light hasn’t come on by now is it ever going to? Why is he on this list? The Bears need to take some chances and frankly, even Jenkins is an upgrade over Chris Conte at free safety. Jenkins is a risky signing who may never pan out, but I just don’t want to see Conte in the starting lineup next year!