Could Gerald Hodges be a fit with Chicago Bears?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 6: Gerald Hodges
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 6: Gerald Hodges /

The Chicago Bears should take a look at free agent linebacker Gerald Hodges.

The Chicago Bears have made quite a splash in free agency. With numerous big-ticket free agents headed to Chicago on the offensive side of the ball, it’s time Ryan Pace start taking a closer look at his defense.

The Bears did what they had to do defensively. They kept Kyle Fuller after the Green Bay Packers signed him to an offer sheet and locked down Prince Amukamara to make sure their secondary didn’t have any holes. With some help needed on the edge, Pace also signed Aaron Lynch who had a quiet 2017 but could bounce back and help fortify a Bears pass rush that is average at best.

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But the Bears still have holes on the team, most notably, they lack depth in certain areas. It appears the Bears are set to start Nick Kwiatkoski and Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker, but with the departure of Christian Jones to the Detroit Lions, the Bears don’t have any depth behind them.

The Bears could target a linebacker such as Tremaine Edmunds with the eighth overall pick, but the Bears can’t sit idly by and wait for the draft and assume they will fill all their holes that way. The Bears need to fill their depth at linebacker and the perfect fit is free agent Gerald Hodges.

Hodges was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round back in 2013 and had a role largely as a subpackage linebacker for the team. When Hodges played, he played well. In 2014, Hodges had the opportunity to start seven games and tallied 50 tackles had seven passes defended and even a pick-six.

Hodges was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October of 2015 and he continued to contribute to the Niners’ defense in both 2015 and 2016. Hodges was a free agent in 2017 and signed with the Buffalo Bills. Hodges didn’t have the best camp and was surprisingly released before the start of the season and signed on with the New Orleans Saints where he saw almost no playing time.

So what happened to Hodges in 2017? It’s hard to say and there’s not a lot of information available, but the bottom line is, Hodges was buried on the Saints depth chart and couldn’t recover. He played a total of 12 defensive snaps for the Saints and recorded just three tackles. Hodges did log 178 special teams’ snaps, but clearly didn’t make an impact there. Despite the lack of playing time in 2017, history shows that when Hodges has played, as outlined above, he’s a capable defender.

Hodges plays well against the run and has proven that he isn’t a liability in pass coverage either. He isn’t going to be mistaken for Patrick Willis, but at the same time, he’s someone who can sub behind Kwiatkoski and Trevathan and if one of them suffer an injury, Hodges should be able to man the fort respectably.

After a woeful 2017 season where he was released in August and couldn’t find the field in New Orleans, Hodges should be cheap. The Bears could sign him to a non-guaranteed contract and see what he has in camp. If he proves he’s still the same player that was on the field from 2014 to 2016 for Minnesota and San Francisco, the Bears will have the perfect depth piece for their linebackers.