This UDFA strategy by Chicago Bears highlights overall offseason plan

Chicago Bears - Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears were in an interesting spot this offseason. Ryan Pace essentially knew his time was coming to an end soon and went all-in, not worrying about paying any prices down the road. It left Ryan Poles with a roster that had too many holes for the resources that the team had available.

We knew the team would be busy adding UDFAs, even after they spent day three of the draft tripling their capital. Still, the graph below emphasizes just what this team did. The X-axis is the number of UDFAs added, the Y is the amount of guaranteed money dished out.

So, the only team that added more than the Bears in UDFA was the Colts, but at the same time, no team spent less on UDFAs than the Bears. That is a fascinating dichotomy.

It speaks to what Ryan Poles did this entire off-season. He was worried about quantity and depth and knew that he did not have the resources to make big splashes. Poles wanted to take as many swings as he possibly could.

Poles did this in free agency, and nothing can be shown more than adding David Moore, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe, Byron Pringle, and Equaninous St. Brown into the mix. He threw little money at all of them and is hoping to fill out the depth of the room.

He drafted Braxton Jones, Zach Thomas, Doug Kramer, and Ja’Tyre Carter, all on the offensive line, but all on day three.

Then, he signed as many UDFAs as he possibly could. He promised a chance to compete for playing time rather than guaranteed money.

The question is whether this is a one-year thing with Poles or whether this is how he will handle things. The reality is that it is likely a glimpse at how they will handle things, but at the same time, he will never have as unique of a year as 2022.

Poles will have a first-round pick and eventually will have extra draft picks. There will be a time when he trades down and his barrage of picks comes in rounds three and four and not rounds six and seven. His free-agent signings will remain cheaper for younger players, but the additions will be depth and complementary pieces. If they were viewed through that lens this year, fans would be happier.

He may continue to go after quantity in UDFAs, but at the same time, he will never see a roster so bare again. He just had to fill a 90-man roster with about 35 players coming from the Ryan Pace regime. When 50 or 60 players come back, five players get signed, and 10 get drafted, it is not as imperative to add 20 UDFAs.

So, Poles can be more selective and then possibly spend on guys that he likes rather than hoping anyone comes for no guaranteed money.

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It is an interesting view into his process, but more of a view into what he was working with. He needed to add 22 players and needed to give them as little money as possible just to fill the depth of a team that had to be gutted.