Chicago Bears: Five worst free agent signings in Ryan Pace era

Chicago Bearas (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Chicago Bearas (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

From the depressing department, we revisit Ryan Pace’s five worst free-agent signings since becoming general manager for the Chicago Bears.

Ryan Pace has generally been proactive in helping the Chicago Bears progressively get better since he took over as the team’s general manager in January 2015. His biggest move to date was acquiring Khalil Mack days before the 2018 season was set to begin. While the Bears still see the impact of that trade with the loss of draft capital, Mack has been a game-changer for the defense.

That said, Pace has also made some questionable signings within the last six offseasons. Most recently, Trey Burton was released after signing a four-year, $32 million deal in the 2017 offseason. He had a decent first season in Chicago but hauled in just 84 yards while being limited due to injuries last year.

Who else made the cut for worst signings?

5. Markus Wheaton

After coming off back-to-back 600+ yard seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chicago Bears signed Markus Wheaton to a two-year contract before the 2017 season to shore up the wide receiving core. However, he caught just three passes for 51 yards while playing in 17 games. The Bears released him nearly one year to the date after signing him.

4. Marcus Cooper

I can’t think of Marcus Cooper without remembering the time he slow-trotted towards the endzone on a blocked field goal against the Steelers, only to have it knocked away and recovered for a touchback. I was at that game, by the way. He signed a three-year deal worth $16 million – including $8 million in guaranteed money – before the 2017 season.

Like Wheaton, he was released nearly one year after being signed. The Bears re-signed him later in the month, but he was officially released for good on November 21. In 15 games – including four starts – Cooper recorded 18 tackles and three pass deflections while earning a 45.4 grade from PFF.

3. Mike Glennon

After the Jay Cutler era ended with his release in March 2017, the Chicago Bears had no one on the depth chart. It was nearly a foregone conclusion that they were going to select one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. Still, to buy that person some time, the Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal – including $18.5 million guaranteed – but it basically equated to a one-year, $16 million deal with the Bears having an out after the first year.

In eight games, including four starts, Glennon completed 66.4 percent of his passes and threw for 833 yards with a 4-to-5 touchdown to interception ratio.

2. Trey Burton

Burton was expected to step into a starting tight end role with the Bears after playing in support of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia. He was part of one of the most historic plays in Eagles history, and, as noted, he hauled in 569 yards and six touchdowns in his first year with the Bears.

However, he missed the playoff game against the Eagles with what he described as “his groin locking up on him” hours before the game. Anyways, injuries would continue to limit his playing time in 2019 as he caught just 14 balls and no touchdowns.

1. Cody Parkey

It will likely take at least a decade for Chicago Bears fans to let go of their feelings towards Cody Parkey. After struggling to secure a consistent kicker in 2017, Pace signed Parkey to a four-year deal. He hit the upright on four attempts against the Lions in 2018, which was a foreshadowing of what was about to come.

Again in the playoff game, Parkey hit the left upright that would have given the Bears the lead with virtually no time left on the clock. It might go down as one of the biggest “what-if’s” in Chicago sports history, as that Bears team was stacked. Parkey went on the Today show a few days later, unbeknownst to the Bears’ front office, which signaled the end of his time in Chicago.

Next. Bears Draft: Three tight ends to target in 2020 NFL Draft. dark

The Bears released him on February 22 and carried a dead cap of approximately $5.1 million between last year and the upcoming season.