The Bears were aggressive early in free agency, solidifying the inside linebacker position, getting a starter at defensive end, and adding depth at a few other positions. I’ve listed the Bears moves so far this off-season below, but despite the numerous moves there are still plenty of holes on the Bears roster.
As of today I would say a starting caliber safety and defensive end, a top 4 cornerback, another tight end, offensive line depth, and an edge-rusher are the Bears most pressing needs. After making an offer on running back C.J. Anderson and bringing Lance Dunbar in for a visit, it seems the Bears consider running back a position of need as well.
Here are the players the Bears have locked up so far this off-season.
- The #1 player on my ILB wish list , former Bronco Danny Trevathan was the Bears first signing of the off-season
- The Bears signed another ILB, former Colt Jerrell Freeman, who was Pro Football Focus #1 rated run stopper last year and 4th best ILB overall
- Offensive tackle Bobbie Massey from the Cardinals who may have been the biggest surprise so far as it moves Kyle Long back to guard
- Cornerback Tracy Porter was re-signed after a healthy and productive first year with the Bears
- Rotational defensive end and part-time fullback Mitch Unrein was brought back on a two-year deal
- Special teams ace Sherrick McManis was re-signed on a two-year deal
- Scrappy WR/RS Marc Mariani turned down offers from Oakland and San Fran to come back to the Bears on a one-year deal
- Another player from my pre-free agency wish list, Massive defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, signed a two-year deal
- Breakout tight end Zach Miller re-signed for two-years at less money than expected
- Depth tight end Rob Housley was re-signed for a veteran minimum deal
- Long-snapper Aaron Brewster was signed to a one-year deal.
With the first wave of free agency in the books, there isn’t a ton of talent left but every year there is usually plenty of transactional action through the end of March. Last year the Bucs picked up seven players between St. Paddy’s Day and the beginning of training camp, so we could still see a few more moves from the Bears.
The Bears have plenty of cap space left, the 6th most in the NFL at roughly $24M, with the trade of TE Martellus Bennett freeing up another $5.18M of space. The Bears have more than enough cap space to sign any of the remaining free agents, the problem is that there aren’t many impact players left. Depth is important though and the Bears could add a few useful players over the next few weeks.
Who are the best players left that fit the Bears needs? Most players left have at least minor flaws, but there is some talent left who could be significant contributors for the Bears in 2016. My list of the ten best remaining free agent fits is on the next two pages with a little info on each player.