Should the Bears look for compensatory picks rather than free agent signings?
The Bears have been out of the loop for awhile now. They have been looking for quick fixes and turnarounds, and what that has done has dug them into an even deeper hole. Look no further than their run of General Managers and head coaches recently. The same idea has been tied to their free agency.
Whether it be Roberto Garza, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen or Martellus Bennett, the Bears have made impact moves. Some have paid off, some haven’t. Still, all of them factor into the fact that the Bears have had some of the least compensatory picks since the process started in 1994.
Since the league began rewarding teams who lost players via free agency, the
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Bears rank 24th in the NFL with just 17 compensatory picks. Of course, that ranking includes the Cleveland Browns, who were not a franchise for three seasons, the Carolina Panthers, who started up as a franchise in 1995 and the Houston Texans, who came around in 2002. Aside from them, teams who have had as many or less compensatory picks include the New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and Minnesota Vikings.
To contrast, the eight teams who have had the most compensatory picks are led by the Baltimore Ravens with 48. The Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans round out the group. To put it in layman’s terms, you would rather be lumped in with the Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, and Packers than you would with the Jets, Redskins and Raiders. Over the past three seasons, the Broncos (11), Seahawks (8), Ravens (7) and Patriots (7) have had the most compensatory picks. The Bears have none in that span.
Is it a coincidence that three of those four teams have played in a Super Bowl in the past three seasons? Compensatory picks are cheaper, younger shots at “free agents” known as draftees. They are essentially lottery tickets. Sure, you may not hit on your late fourth round compensatory pick. You also may not hit on your five-year, $35 million deal given to Lamarr Houston in free agency. One stings a lot worse than another. On top of that is the idea of playing the odds and having nine or ten shots at finding a gem rather than six or seven while putting your eggs in a veteran player’s basket.
The Bears should have seen the value in that idea first-hand last season. The team traded back twice in the second round and scooped up two extra fourth rounders. They walked away with Nick Kwiatkowski, Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall. Last season Kwiatkowski started seven games and looked to be a reliable, long-term depth player. Even if he is all that the Bears landed from the three, having those three strikes beats going all in on one of the three names.
Of course, the Bears apparently either have not grasped the idea or do not care for it. In 2017, a year in which the Bears are somewhat clearly rebuilding, they led the league in free agent signings. What is it they say about the definition of insanity?