Chicago Bears Free Agency Sign or Pass: Keanu Neal

Chicago Bears (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Through two NFL seasons, Keanu Neal was on pace to be one of the premier safeties in the NFL. However, in his second season, he tore his ACL, and in his third NFL season, he tore his Achilles. Two of the most devastating injuries a player can get came back-to-back. Fortunately for him, he was able to get back to a healthy season in 2021. Now, he has a chance to enter free agency coming off of a high instead of the lows of the past two years.

Is this a player that the Chicago Bears could be targeting in free agency?

Projected Contract for Keanu Neal in NFL free agency

While Neal was healthy in 2020, his play was not quite back to elite form. Over the cap has him valued at about $3.6 Million per year. On the other hand, PFF has him valued at about $5 million per year, and a two-year, $10 million deal.

This gives us a decent understanding of what he could be looking at in free agency. He could see that $3.6-$5 million per range.

Chicago Bears should sign Keanu Neal in free agency

Keanu Neal is the perfect safety to match with Eddie Jackson. Neal lives in the box and is a vicious tackler who lays a heavy hit. The biggest issue with Jackson is his tackling ability. Adding a sure tackler like Neal can move Jackson out of those high leverage situations.

Of course, the biggest issue with Neal coming off of two knee surgeries is his change of direction and sideline-to-sideline ability. Jackson is the perfect complement to Neal. The Bears have pushed Jackson into the box more with Chuck Pagano, but that is likely to change with Sean Desai. Adding a true box safety has been something that Jackson has needed to help increase his ball production, and you will not find a better investment.

We saw last year that Ryan Pace went after Germain Ifedi, Barkevious Mingo, Artie Burns, and other first-round picks that Ryan Pace likes taking the shots on high upside pedigree prospects knowing that there is potential to be unlocked. Neal may not break the bank, but when healthy, he can be one of the better starters in the NFL. For his salary, the juice is worth the squeeze.

Chicago Bears should pass on Keanu Neal in free agency

While Sean Desai will keep Eddie Jackson out of the box, he still wants versatile safeties who can move in and out of the box both pre-and-post snap. Adrian Amos still had the ability to jump back and forth to and from single-high. With Keanu Neal, you have a one-dimensional player.

Teams will find ways to attack Neal in coverage, and the team already has issues in coverage with Danny Trevathan. Then, there is the obvious of betting on a player coming off of an injury.

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He is younger than Tashaun Gipson, but the Bears would be putting four safeties next to Jackson in as many years. At some point, the safer option would be Gipson, who is more versatile and has a cleaner bill of health.