The first free agent the Chicago Bears need to consider bringing in is Eli Apple. Reports came out in early free agency that Apple and the Raiders had agreed to a one-year deal. That deal fell through and Apple remains a free agent today. The longer he sits in free agency, the lower his cost becomes. This is why he would make a solid bargain addition for the Bears.
Apple is a former first-round draft pick. We know how Ryan Pace likes to bring in former first-rounders on one-year, prove-it deals. Why not do the same with a guy like Apple? Apple is still relatively young. He is only 24 and will be 25 throughout most of the 2020 season. He was drafted by the New York Giants10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.
He was an immature 21-year old when he entered the league and was fined for things like tweeting on the sidelines. He was suspended for one game for conduct detrimental to the team in 2017. The Giants traded him to New Orleans in 2018 for a fourth-round pick in 2019 and a seventh-round pick in 2020.
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Once in New Orleans, Apple became an immediate starter for the Saints. He played well in their defensive system. Apple only has three interceptions in his career, but two came within the 10 games he started for New Orleans that first year. He also added 42 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. Apple held onto the starting job in 2019. He had four pass deflections but no interceptions. He recorded 58 combined tackles (53 solos and 5 assists).
The biggest problem with Apple is his inconsistencies. He has accounted for 30 accepted penalties in his career. That averages out to nearly two penalties per game. Yikes. Last year he accounted for 11 penalties — five pass interference calls and three defensive holding calls. In 2018, Apple saw 10 penalties between the Saints and the Giants — all of them were pass interference or holding.
The Chicago Bears should still look to add him to the roster on a one-year, prove-it deal. In 2018, Apple saw 85 targets come his way in New Orleans. He only let up 38 completions. That is a 44.7 completion percentage. He allowed three touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 72.6 while being targeted that year.
2019 was not quite as good, but still not awful. He let up 48 catches on his 76 targets and one touchdown. Quarterbacks saw a 100.9 quarterback rating when targeting Apple. For reference, Prince Amukamara allowed a 105.2 quarterback rating in 2019. Bringing in Apple for the right price is a no-brainer in my opinion.