Chicago Bears – 2016 Potential Free Agent Targets (Defense)

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Potential Free Agent Targets (Defense)

SS Eric Berry, Chiefs – There is an almost zero chance that the Chiefs let Berry go, but he’s too perfect of a fit for what the Bears need to not include on this list. Berry is the no-doubt comeback player of the year in 2015, after overcoming cancer to make the Pro Bowl. He has the versatility that DC Vic Fangio craves with the ability to play deep or in the box.

Lining-up an experienced, versatile safety like Berry across from Adrian Amos would both improve the Bears secondary and also speed up Amos’ development. It seems like the 4-time Pro Bowl safety Berry has been around forever, but he is only 27.

FS Eric Weddle, Chargers – The only reason I have Weddle one spot lower on this list is that he’s three years older than Berry. The one advantage Weddle has is that there is zero chance he is returning to the Chargers after a series of fairly ridiculous events that drove Weddle out of town.

Weddle is the only NFL safety who has made either first or second team All-Pro for five seasons in a row. At 30 Weddle may not have many All-Pro seasons left, but he would stabilize the Bears secondary for at least a season or two and give them time to develop a safety to pair with Adrian Amos. Weddle’s age and urgency to leave San Diego may lower his price a bit as well, which could be important to a Bears team with multiple holes to fill.

ILB Danny Trevathan, Broncos – The Broncos are in a tough position this off-season with multiple high-profile free agents (Von Miller, Brock Osweiler, Trevathan, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Brandon Marshall, and both of their top RBs) and limited cap room. There is no chance the Broncos can bring them all back which is why you will see quite a few Broncos on this list. Not to mention Bears HC John Fox has existing relationships with all of these players, which may give the Bears a recruiting edge in free agency.

As for Trevathan, he is only 25 and was one of the key components on the #1 defense in the NFL this season. Inside linebacker was a glaring hole for the Bears , but Trevathan would give the Bears a borderline Pro Bowler who has the coverage and run stopping skills Fangio requires from the position.

Adding Trevathan would give the Bears a 3-down ILB and allow them to use a combination of run-stoppers Christian Jones and John Timu on early downs, then Jonathan Anderson or Lamin Barrow on passing downs at the other ILB position. Teammate and fellow ILB Brandon Marshall is also a free agent and could be the Bears target if the Broncos re-sign Trevathan.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

CB Janoris Jenkins, Rams – A former 2nd round pick who had the talent to go much higher, but there were legitimate questions about Jenkins maturity and off-field stability. Jenkins had a few issues early in his career with the Rams and also struggled on the field, but he has improved every season, was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, and at 27 years old has become a physical, above-average NFL corner.

Jenkins would immediately be the best corner on the Bears and give them some insurance should Tracy Porter miss time with injury or leave in free agency. He won’t be cheap, but Jenkins would give the Bears a play-maker at corner and a guy who plays with aggression and an edge that the Bears defense really needs.

Jenkins has a history of making big plays returning 5 of his 10 career interceptions for touchdowns and also a fumble for good measure. His six career TDs would put Jenkins 6th overall in TDs on the entire Bears roster.

Fellow Rams CB Trumaine Johnson is also a free agent and could interest the Bears. Johnson is bigger, just as talented, and doesn’t have any of the off-field questions that Jenkins does, which is why the Rams will probably make signing Johnson a priority.

CB Sean Smith, Chiefs – The Bears need a play-maker at corner after finishing 2nd to last in the league with just 8 interceptions as a team, which unfortunately isn’t Smith’s strength. He’s never had a season with more than 2 picks, but the Bears also need a tall corner, which Smith at 6’4 fits the bill.

The Bears signed a tall corner last off-season, 6’2 Alan Ball, but he was garbage and won’t be back. Smith on the other hand has been very good the last two years and even made Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team in 2014. His lack of interceptions might keep the price down a little, but he’s still relatively young (28) and there aren’t any other 6’4 corners with Smith’s ability out there so he won’t be cheap.