Bears 2017 Free Agents: Offense

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

QB Matt Barkley – His semi-competent play was one of the biggest surprises of the Bears 2016 season. Barkley played well enough in his first four NFL starts to be 4-0 if he had a better supporting cast. His play regressed significantly in his last few starts, but he showed enough potential to be a solid backup option on a good team.

The Bears aren’t a good team yet and Barkley may end being their best option at quarterback in 2017. He’s worth bringing back as a safety valve if the Bears can’t find a better starter next year. It may come down to whom the Bears like better between Barkley and Hoyer. My vote is Barkley.

Verdict: Keep him (as a backup QB)

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

QB Brian Hoyer -Captain check-down put up some pretty impressive statistics during his brief stint as the Bears starting quarterback this season, but they were empty numbers. The Bears scored less with Hoyer under center than they did with either Cutler or Barkley.

Hoyer moved the ball well between the 20s, but was ineffective in the red zone and didn’t scare defenses enough to keep them from stacking the box against the running game.

Hoyer is a solid backup who won’t give games away with turnovers, but he won’t win any games with his arm either. There is a reason he was available for just $2M last offseason. The Bears will probably need their backup to start some games in 2017 and they need one who can do more than complete check-down passes.

The Bears will probably need their backup to start some games in 2017 and they need one who can do more than complete check-down passes.

Verdict: Let him go

G Ted Larsen – I’ve seen a lot of Larsen over the last two seasons and I’m thoroughly unimpressed. To his credit, he plays hard and doesn’t make many glaring mistakes, he’s just not a starting caliber NFL linemen.

After starting most of the 2015 season for the Cardinals, they made zero effort to re-sign him. The Bears shouldn’t either. They have a few young interior linemen with potential (Edison, Kush) and the Bears should give them the first shot to win the depth jobs. At least we don’t know their ceiling yet.

Verdict: Let him go

G/C Eric Kush – Known more for his tank-top collection than his skill as a blocker, but Kush flashed some potential in eight games and four starts for the Bears this season. The former Chiefs sixth-round pick has some legit NFL traits, mainly his abnormally quick feet which are a great fit for the Bears zone blocking scheme.

Kush has enough potential to develop into a starting caliber interior linemen and showed talent when given a chance to play this season. The Bears need to improve their o-line depth and developing young, cheap talent is the best way to do it.

Verdict: Keep him

OT Mike Adams – I was excited about the Adams signing. The former 2nd round pick started 20 games in his first three seasons with the Steelers but missed all of 2015 with a back injury. His injury cost him his job in Pittsburgh and he seemed like a potential steal for the Bears.

Unfortunately, he didn’t play well (at all) when given a chance with the Bears last year. Adams had one of the lowest individual game grades of the season from Pro Football Focus in his one start with the Bears and then hurt his back again.

The Bears need to upgrade their offensive tackle depth this offseason and Adams’ back just isn’t reliable enough to count on in 2017.

Verdict: Let him go

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

TE Logan Paulsen – It seemed the only time we heard Paulsen’s name this season is when he was called for a holding penalty. The veteran is a decent blocker and can catch check down passes, but doesn’t provide much positive value as either a blocker or receiver.

The Bears gave plenty of snaps to young tight ends like Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker, and MyCole Pruitt late in the season to try and develop a better second tight end than Paulsen. If they bring him back, that means they failed to find an upgrade this offseason.

Verdict: Let him go

OT Nick Becton – He’s spent the last two seasons on the Bears practice squad, but couldn’t get a call-up to the active roster despite plenty of o-line injuries the last two years. When tackle Mike Adams went down with an injury late in 2016, the Bears called up a player they had signed just two weeks earlier over Becton who had been around for two years.

The Bears announced their futures contract signings this week and Becton wasn’t on the list. That’s another pretty clear sign that he’s not coming back in 2017.

Verdict: Let him go

OT Matt McCants – A former 6th round pick by the Giants in 2012, who didn’t play as a rookie and was signed by the Raiders in 2013. McCants started three games in three seasons for Oakland before being released this year.

The Bears signed McCants in week 15 this season to replace the injured Mike Adams as a swing tackle. McCants has good size at 6’6, 318,  long arms, and quick feet for a big man. He has some potential and is worth keeping around for a longer look.

Verdict: Keep him

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

K Connor Barth – In seven NFL seasons before signing with the Bears, Barth had an impressive 84.5% accuracy on field goal attempts including 98.4% inside of 40-yards. He wasn’t nearly as good in his first season with the Bears.

Barth hit just 78.5 percent of his kicks including misses from under 30 and 40 yards. He also finished dead last in the league in touchback percentage on kickoffs.

Barth kicked well (94%) for John Fox in part of the 2014 season for the Broncos and earned Fox’s trust enough to drop Robbie Gould last offseason. The Bears could use an upgrade at kicker, but I’m guessing Fox lobbies for another year of Barth. If they do bring Barth back, hopefully they will at least bring in some competition.

Verdict: Let him go (but they probably won’t)