Chicago Bears Free Agency: Who’s Left?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 3
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

S Rashad Johnson, Cardinals – Living in Arizona, I watched more Cardinals games than any other team but the Bears and Johnson consistently stood out as a player who was always in the right place and made big plays when needed (5 interceptions). Johnson is older (30) than the players the Bears have been targeting in free agency, but he’s three years younger than last year’s starting safety Antrel Rolle.

Johnson struggled in coverage during the Cardinals playoff loss to the Panthers, but for most of the season he was a key part of a very good Cards defense. He has the size (6’0 | 205) to be solid against the run and the instincts to be good in zone coverage. Man coverage isn’t Johnson’s strong suit, but Johnson would fit well in the Bears hybrid defensive scheme.

ILB Zach Brown, Titans – A 2nd round pick in 2012 who looked like a long-term starter early in his career, but has struggled to stay healthy since. Brown racked up 183 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 TD returns, and 10 pass defenses over his first two years but has made only six starts since then due to a torn pectoral muscle.

When on the field, Brown (6’1, 244) excelled in pass coverage, but struggled at times against the run. The talent is there for Brown to be a well-rounded ILB and he’s still only 26 so still has time to improve his run defense. Brown is a potentially high-upside option who shouldn’t cost much for the Bears to roll the dice on.

The Bears have already added two top-notch ILBs to the roster, but Brown has the versatility to play in sub-packages and has shown good blitzing instincts off the edge. Brown shouldn’t cost much, would provide valuable depth, and has the upside to be a play-maker inside or as an occasional edge-rusher.

S Husain Abdullah, Chiefs – His age isn’t ideal (30) but he didn’t play much at all his first four years in the NFL and then took a year off before becoming a key contributor to the Chiefs defense the last few seasons. Abdullah has the size (6’0 | 204) and speed to be good in the box and in coverage. Bears DC Vic Fangio has made it clear that he values safeties who can play either deep or in the box so he can disguise his schemes. This late in free agency all three safeties on this list should be affordable and would upgrades over Antrel Rolle.

C Steven Wisniewski, Raiders – Former 2nd round pick of the Raiders who has had a very solid career so far, consistently rated among the top centers in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and also showing the versatility to play well as a guard at times. He’s only 26 and has been solid since his first day in the league, making Pro Football Weekly and Sporting News all rookie teams in 2011.

Wisniewski may not sign somewhere without the promise of a starting gig, but it’s very possible he could beat out Hroniss Grasu for the Bears starting center spot. Ideally he would provide depth at both center and guard, but with Wisniewski’s track record I’d be surprised if he ends up as a reserve somewhere.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

TE Jared Cook, Rams – Like most fantasy players, I can’t stand Cook. He’s got all the potential in the world at 6’5 and 254 pounds with 4.50 speed when he entered the league, but only makes an impact in a couple games per year. Cook has shown flashes of being a legit weapon in the passing game, but he’s been very inconsistent.

It’s hard to know whether Cook’s inconsistency is his fault or a result of not having played with a good QB at any point of his career. Cook’s blocking has been suspect at best, but he has the size and power to at least contribute in the run game while being a potential weapon in the passing game. Cook and Zach Miller would give the Bears one of the most athletic TE combos in the league.

DE Jared Crick, Texans – Started all but one game for the Texans at DE over the last two seasons and is a solid, if unspectacular, run stopper. Crick has had just 5.5 sacks over the last two years, but has had a respectable amount of pressures and has a knack for batting down passes with 8 over the last two seasons. The former 4th round pick in 2012 is only 26, so still has time to improve and like most players on this list would be a significant upgrade at his position.