Should the Chicago Bears extend Adrian Amos?
Should the Chicago Bears extend Adrian Amos before the season ends?
After the Chicago Bears signed Khalil Mack to a massive extension after trading for the defensive superstar, Ryan Pace quickly followed that up by inking nose tackle Eddie Goldman to a 4-year, $42 million extension.
It was a smart play by Pace to lock down one of the key pieces to the defense before Goldman hit free agency next offseason. The Bears have several pieces on their defense locked down now for several years, but the one that still has an uncertain future is Adrian Amos.
Pace has been very smart on how he’s handled his defensive contracts which means he can keep his core group of players together for several years. As of right now, Mack is under contract until 2024. Goldman and rookie Roquan Smith are locked down until 2022. Akiem Hicks and Kyle Fuller are locked in until 2021. Eddie Jackson, Leonard Floyd and Prince Amukamara are locked in until 2020. If the Bears don’t make him a cap casualty, even Danny Trevathan is under contract through 2019 (as is Jonathan Bullard). Roy Robertson-Harris is a restricted free agent after this season.
Of course, the Bears also have rookies in Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts, Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Kevin Toliver that they also control for multiple years as the Bears hope they can develop into contributors on the defensive side of the ball.
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As you can see looking at the contract structures, Pace has been careful to craft a window of three years, 2018 to 2020, where this defense is going to be together. This is Pace’s first window to win a championship. Pace and Matt Nagy will hope that a team built around a stellar defense with a good running game and what they hope is a solid young quarterback in Mitch Trubisky can win this team a championship.
The one name that may not fit into the big picture is Adrian Amos.
Amos had a solid rookie campaign but struggled in his second year. His struggles reached a point that entering his third season, the Bears felt it best to sign Quentin Demps and move Amos to a backup role in the secondary. After Demps was injured early in the season, Amos was given his starting spot back and took every advantage of it.
Amos had a solid season for the Bears in 2017. Pro Football Focus loves Amos’ game and has tabbed him as an elite safety in the NFL. Clearly the Bears are going to want to keep Amos around, but with the attention he’s garnered from PFF, could that push up his value past what the Bears’ want to pay?
If Amos wants to be paid like an elite safety, he’s going to have to test free agency and see if his market is what he believes it to be. The Bears simply will not, and should not, pay that price for Amos. The Bears have a salary cap they need to manage and they have already committed a significant amount of salary to the defensive side of the ball. How much more can they plunk down on the defense?
The issue the Bears face is that they don’t have the “next man up” on the roster. Next man up is always a philosophy that exists in the NFL. With contracts not guaranteed, injuries constantly happening, and the salary cap being what it is, teams always need to have a young, hungry player ready to replace a veteran when the team wants to move on.
The only player the Bears currently have waiting in the wings is Deon Bush and he has not proven to anyone that he can be an every down safety. The Bears are opening a window to compete, yet if they let Amos walk, they would be creating a hole at safety with no logical replacement on the roster.
The best thing for the team is to keep Amos around, but if Amos wants elite safety (think top 10 at the position), then the Bears are going to have to be willing to pay Amos what would probably be a four-year deal with a total value between $30 and $35 million and about $20 million of that will have to be guaranteed.
That is a steep price to pay and it would significantly limit what the Bears can do with their roster financially. The Bears probably see Amos in the range of a 3-year contract worth about $15 to $18 million and would be willing to guarantee $10 to $12 million of it. That’s simply my guess, but based on how they value positions and what Pace has previously done, that makes sense.
If those two estimates are anywhere near accurate, the Bears and Amos are far apart right now on a deal. That means even if the Bears want to extend Amos this season, they won’t be able to. Amos will want to test free agency and see if his value is what he expects it to be.
At this point, the Bears should have a wait-and-see approach. If Amos repeats the type of season he had last year and adds play-making ability to his already solid play, the Bears might need to really consider ponying up the cash. But if Amos slips a little this season, or even repeats the type of season he had last year, where he is a consistent, solid performer, but fails to make major impact plays regularly, the Bears might need to let Amos walk and look to sign a more affordable safety.
The best hope for Chicago is that Amos tests the market and finds out his value is closer to what the Bears think it is, and he’s willing to re-sign in Chicago on what would mostly be a team-friendly deal. It’ll be an interesting year for Amos. He’s the last of the key pieces that isn’t locked down long-term. Now the only question is, will he ever be?