Who are the Chicago Bears targeting in the coming days?
NFL free agency is on the horizon, and teams armed with a truckload of cash will be active early. The Chicago Bears are amongst the teams with the most money available in the free agent market. With plenty of holes to fill, look for the Bears to be movers and shakers early and often.
After announcing that they have used the franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the Chicago Bears should have roughly $46 million of available salary cap space. The cap hold of the franchise tag takes up $14.6 million of space. Since the Bears are reportedly looking to trade (courtesy of the Chicago Tribune) tight end Martellus Bennett, it is likely that another $5 million could be added to their pot.
Before anyone assumes that the Bears will use the potential savings on a defense player, unproven Khari Lee is the only tight end signed to the roster. Much of what the team saves from Bennett leaving will go towards an offer to emerging vertical threat Zach Miller. Miller is a free agent, one who the Bears would hate to lose.
Once the Bears and Alshon Jeffery agree to a long-term deal, some additional money will be made available. Those funds will likely be allocated some time after the NFL draft. As teams look at young talent, several veterans will find themselves out of a job. A team with as many needs that the Chicago Bears have, they would be wise to not overspend in the first stage of the NFL free-agency. They have to identify what their biggest needs are and go after them first.
What are the Chicago Bears’ biggest needs?
Playmakers are needed just about everywhere on defense. Eddie Goldman solidifies the nose tackle spot. Pernell McPhee is a lock as an outside linebacker. Veteran LaMarr Houston recently told reporters, on CSN Chicago’s “Sports Talk Live,” that he believes the Bears are strongest at outside linebacker.
“I think that Pernell, Willie and myself are all great guys and great pass rushers, and we brought a lot to the team last year.
“I couldn’t say that they wouldn’t go draft an outside linebacker or bring somebody else in. But as of right now I don’t see what the need would be for one because we’re very productive guys.”
Houston was speaking on behalf of the most productive unit for the Chicago Bears’ last season.
It was the trio of LaMarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, and Willie Young who sparked a brief run that put the Bears in the NFL playoff picture for a few games. To add validity to Houston’s point, the outside linebackers amassed 20.5 of the Bears’ sacks. Each of them was rankled by injuries.
Outside linebacker is the least of the Chicago Bears’ free-agency needs. Inside linebacker is a different story.
Teams with pass catching tight ends and strong running games made the Bears pay every time a defender could not make the initial tackle. Whether is was Shea McCellin misreading a route, or another inside linebacker getting dragged across the field, it was a comedy of errors in this unit. It would come as a surprise if the Bears do not strike a deal with one of the top players at the position.
Danny Trevathan, ILB of the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos, is a free agent. At 25-years-old, he will be targeted by many teams. There is one factor which works in the Chicago Bears’ when it comes to having an inside track on Trevathan – Bears’ coach John Fox gave him his first shot when he oversaw the Broncos. With that familiarity with each other, Danny Trevathan to the Chicago Bears would not surprise anyone.
The addition of Trevathan in the middle would add championship experience, as well as a player who has a high motor and a tendency to be around the football. Since there is a shortage of playmakers, he is undoubtedly on the Bears’ shortlist of targets.
#Bears Free Agent Spotlight: DE Malik Jackson, who would bring the pass rush to a new level https://t.co/BSUNKDzQCh pic.twitter.com/zLaLhm7I2L
— Jeremy Stoltz (@BearReport) March 4, 2016
Danny Trevathan is not the only key free agent from the Broncos who will garner interest.
Edge rusher Malik Jackson is another player that the Chicago Bears will talk to from Fox’s former club.
Jackson’s combination of size and speed will look good chasing down the Aaron Rodgers’ and Teddy Bridgewater’s of the NFL. Jackson is also strong against the run, a trait that the Chicago Bears could use. The team was 22nd versus the run last season.
Fans should also expect the Bears to address the secondary in NFL free-agency. A starter at cornerback is the top priority for them.
Everyone immediately assumes that the defense is the only side of the ball the Bears will address in free-agency. Keep in mind that they were 21st in total offense and 23rd in scoring. There will be a couple of offensive playmakers who will be added to the team.
Look for wide receiver Roddy White to pique the Bears’ interest if the price is right. Although plenty of eyes will be on the progress of Kevin White (no relation to the former), no one knows what he will bring to the table in his NFL debut. Adding Roddy White would ease the learning curve for the second-year player.
Roddy White has experience, good hands, and the versatility to work as a flanker, or in the slot. He would be another safety valve for quarterback Jay Cutler.
NFL free-agency begins in just a couple of days. The Chicago Bears have huge holes to fill. Expect some big names to join the team when it is all said and done.
[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]