Bears – Potential Free Agent Additions (Defense)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Boykin (5’10 | 183 | 4.4)

For some reason Boykin was stuck in Steelers HC Mike Tomlin’s dog-house for most of the season despite poor play from most of their secondary in 2015. He finally got a chance to play in the last third of the season and was graded as one of the ten best corners in the league over that stretch by Pro Football Focus.

The Bears have a promising slot corner in Bryce Callahan, but with teams using more and more 4-5 receiver sets, teams needs as many competent corners as they can get. For two years now Boykin has proven to be not only competent but one of the best slot corners in the league.

The former 4th round pick, Boykin, is only 25 years old and has been ranked as a top-30 corner by Pro Football Focus for the last three years in a row, but is somehow still unemployed after being on three rosters over the last three seasons. He has 8 interceptions and 31 pass defenses over the last three years in just three starts, but has also feuded with all three of his coaches.

Not getting along with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia is understandable, but Steelers HC Mike Tomlin is one of the most respected coaches in the league. Carolina HC Ron Rivera also released Boykin this off-season after just being on their roster for a month. There is little doubt that Boykin is one of the best slot corners in the league, but his problems with three different coaches now is a serious red flag.

Both GM Ryan Pace and HC John Fox have put a premium on good character players, so maybe Boykin isn’t even an option for the Bears, but with their lack of corner depth and Boykin’s considerable talent…

The Bears need to at least look into Boykin’s personal issues before ruling out signing Boykin as he could significantly improve the Bears secondary and at only 25 years old could be an impact player for years to come.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports /

Leon Hall (5’11 | 193 | 4.38)

Still productive at 31 years old last year (2 INTs, 11 PDs) but had back surgery in the off-season. Hall has had visits with multiple teams (AZ, ATL, NYG) but still remains unsigned which leads me to believe that either his price tag is way too high or that he’s not recovered well from his off-season surgery.

Based on Hall’s play the last few seasons, it’s surprising that he hasn’t been signed already. By almost all metrics, he’s been an above-average slot corner the last few seasons with enough size to play outside if needed.

He’s played mostly in the slot the last year and has earned a positive overall grade from Pro Football Focus in each of his nine NFL seasons. Last year they ranked him as the 27th best corner in the league, just below high-priced free agent corner Janoris Jenkins.

Even if Hall needs some recovery time early in the season, he could be a valuable member of the Bears secondary in the 2nd half if either they are in contention or none of the rookie defensive backs have earned significant defensive snaps.

The Bears need to focus on developing young talent, but having an experienced veteran corner on the roster with the versatility to play either in the slot or outside would at worst be a good mentor to the Bears young secondary with the potential to be a key contributor down the stretch for the Bears.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Cortez Allen – 2011 4th round pick, who showed a lot of potential from 2012-2014 with six interceptions and 34 passes defended in 18 starts which earned him a 5-yr, $26M deal with the Steelers before the 2014 season.

Allen has struggled since, getting benched halfway through the 2014 season and then spending half of 2015 on the injured reserve. He’s still just 27 years old, has shown the talent to be a starting corner in the league, and has ideal size (6’1, 198). Allen won’t cost much and may be worth a flyer from the Bears who have plenty of cap room available.

Next: Defensive Line