S DJ Swearinger, Cardinals – Two safeties? Damn right! The Bears probably need at least three safeties after getting almost no contributions from the position in 2016. Adrian Amos is the only safety I’d keep on the roster, but the Bears can’t rely on him as the opening day starter next year after significant regression last season.
While Amos was expected to develop into an impact player this year, not much at all was expected of Swearinger (can’t think of a clean Deadwood joke). A former 2nd round pick in 2013 who was given up on by the Texans, he revitalized his career last season with the Cardinals. On a side note, the Bears brought Swearinger in for a work out before the 2016 season but thought Harold Jones-Quartey and Chris Prosinski were better options (ugh).
In 12 starts last year, Swearinger was solid in both run defense and pass coverage, grading out as a top 10 overall safety according to Pro Football Focus. Coming out of the draft in 2013, he was known as a fierce hitter but undisciplined in his coverage responsibilities and a loose cannon on the field. Swearinger still has issues with both as well as too many missed tackles, but has toned down his on-field antics and become more consistent in coverage while still being an enforcer in the middle of the field against both the run and pass.
With only one solid year of play under his belt, Swearinger is still a risk for a long-term deal, but at least he has proven that he can be an effective safety in the league. Plus with experience at strong safety, free safety, and even some corner in college, his versatility is exactly what Bears DC Vic Fangio looks for in his safeties. Swearinger has the size (5’11, 212) and speed (4.53) to play either in the box or as a single-high safety for the Bears.
Ideally, Adrian Amos has a bounce back year and earns a starting role, but if not adding both Harmon and Swearinger would give the Bears two young, versatile safeties to shore up the middle of the field. Swearinger would also give the Bears an enforcer in the secondary that would give opposing receivers something to worry about when they cross the middle for the first time in many years.
Predicted contract: 3 years, $15M