Chicago Bears Free Agent Options – Offense

mflannery
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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Running back:

RB Shane Vereen (25), Patriots – A poor man’s Matt Forte, who may be looking to get away from Bill Belichick and his RB shenanigans. Vereen’s skill set is very similar to Forte’s except he is 4 years younger with much less mileage on his legs. Forte is going into the last year of his contract this season and signing Vereen would give the Bears more leverage in contract negotiations and insurance in case Forte doesn’t re-sign. The free agent running back market is saturated with big names (Murray, Matthews, Ingram, AP?, Forsett) so the price on Vereen may be lower than expected.

RB Chris Polk (24), Eagles (RFA) – Well-rounded back who has the size (5’11, 222) to excel between the tackles, but also the speed (4.57) to break runs outside. Polk never got much of a chance to show what he can do with the Eagles behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, so is still somewhat of an unknown. I was very high on Polk’s future coming out of Washington in 2012 and still think he has the ability to be a workhorse in the NFL. He’s a restricted free agent, but the Eagles have some tough salary cap decisions to make on high-priced veterans and may not have the resources to match an offer on Polk.

Wide receiver:

WR Cole Beasley (26), Cowboys (RFA) – I avoided most restricted free agents for this list, but Beasley could be looking at a decent raise from the $530K he made this season after his 37 catch, 420 yard, 4 TD performance.  The Cowboys will be tight against the cap again this off-season and may not be able to match a significant increase in Beasley’s salary. Wide receiver was supposed to be a strength for the Bears this season, but both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery often had trouble getting open. Their failure to create separation gave Jay Cutler no room for error often requiring an almost perfect pass. That’s not Cutler’s strength (understatement of year so far). The Bears need to differentiate their receiver group a bit and add a speedy underneath receiver who runs crisp routes and has a knack for getting open. Cowboys HC Jason Garrett described Beasley as “QB-friendly” when asked about him recently. Beasley is under-sized (5’8, 180) but proved his toughness to Bears fans this season when he dragged Chris Conte 3 yards into the end zone back in week 13 and could give Cutler the safety-valve receiver he’s been lacking the last two season.

WR Rod Streater (26), Raiders – Has the physical tools to be a legit #1 WR. Streater has good size (6’3, 200), deep speed (4.37), runs good routes and is a surprisingly good blocker from his days in Temple’s run-first offense. Streater was stuck on a really bad Raiders offense for the first two years of his career, but put up a respectable 60 catch, 888 yard, 4 TD season in his first year as a starter in 2013. I thought Streater had breakout potential in 2014, but his season was cut short due to an injury (foot) after just three games. Streater’s recent injury and lack of pedigree will keep the price low, but he has considerable upside.

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