Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
According to reports out of Baltimore the Chicago Bears have signed Ravens DE/OLB Pernell McPhee to a 5 year contract worth almost $40 million with $16 million guaranteed. McPhee (26) is a former 5th round pick out of Mississippi St who didn’t start for the Ravens last year but was on the field for over half of the team’s defensive snaps as primarily an outside linebacker but also defensive end and even nose tackle occasionally.
Despite playing just 56% of the defensive snaps, McPhee had 8 sacks on the season and led the team in both QB hits (21) and QB hurries (35) according to Pro Football Focus. Both of those pass rush numbers would have led the Chicago Bears in 2014 as well. McPhee’s overall grade from PFF of 26.0 was the best grade on a formidable Ravens defense and the 2nd highest grade of all 3-4 OLBs behind only the Chiefs Justin Houston.
McPhee’s experience in a 3-4 scheme, productivity as a pass rusher, and versatility to play both OLB and DE are all big pluses for the Bears. At 6’3, 280 pounds McPhee has the size to play defensive end if needed and started six games as an end for the Ravens in 2012. With the Bears lacking depth at DE and not having any OLBs with NFL experience in a 3-4, signing McPhee is a good start to rebuilding the Bears defense. The Bears current roster was built to play in a 4-3 scheme, so I’m guessing McPhee isn’t the last defensive free agent the Bears target.
The one concern I have with McPhee is the Ravens track record of allowing free agents to leave. When was the last time a player left the Ravens and got better?
The Ravens are one of the smarter organizations in football when it comes to free agents, but the Ravens are tight against the salary cap and didn’t have the resources to match the Bears offer even if they wanted to keep McPhee.
Free agency doesn’t officially start until Tuesday, but reports from multiple sources are calling McPhee to the Bears a done deal. McPhee specifically mentioned wanting to play for John Fox as one of the reasons he chose Chicago, so the decision to hire an experienced head coach like Fox is already paying dividends.