Despite not making many impact moves in the NFL free agency so far, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles can find great deals now that the initial frenzy died down.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles stated that we shouldn’t expect very many initial deals when the free agency frenzy began two weeks ago. He stayed true to his word and avoided making splashy signings. In fact, he found bargain-basement deals on players who haven’t exactly made an impact in the league yet.
Many fans felt disappointed in what Poles did. Despite being linked to nearly every big name in free agency, Poles signed none of them. He wasn’t going to get into a bidding war with anyone and he certainly didn’t.
Now that the initial frenzy died down, however, there are a few available names who could be had for a nice bargain. These players could make an impact more than the sixth-rounders or undrafted players Poles picked up.
Things seem to be set up the way Poles might have thought. He still has a good amount of cap space and could pick up a steal or two.
Over The Cap has the Bears with about $17 million of cap space still available. However, that includes the salaries of Tarik Cohen and Danny Trevathan, who are cut but with a post-June 1st designation. Additionally, there could be other cuts or trades for draft picks that should free up more space (Nick Foles, for example).
As a result, the Bears are still in a position to fill out the roster with quality players on team-friendly deals.
Top players to target now in NFL free agency
With a number of positions still open on the roster, here is a list of players who could help fill them:
At cornerback, there are two players who could really help settle down the cornerbacks room. They have enjoyed great success and are at the end of their careers but they could be incredible mentors to Jaylon Johnson and to whoever the Bears draft. Keep in mind, as time passes, the price falls so the Bears could be in place to make good pickups.
The first to talk about is Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore languished on a terrible Carolina Panthers team. He’s looking to come back and end his career on a high note. That could mean playing on a contending team. It could, however, also mean him helping a storied franchise return from irrelevancy.
Gilmore has a tendency to be around the ball. He played in only eight games last season, but still managed two interceptions. In a 17-game season, that averages out to four in a full season. Remember, also, that he is only two years removed from his league-leading 6 interceptions and 20 passes defended.
The other player is Patrick Peterson. He spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings so he got an idea of playing in the NFC North.
In 13 games in 2021, he had an interception, 5 passes defended, and 45 tackles. He wants to stay in Minnesota but the Vikings haven’t reciprocated his love and they picked up Za’Darius Smith. Once Peterson realizes that his time in Minnesota might be over he could decide to stay in the North and sign with Chicago.
Poles stated that his priority this offseason was fixing the offensive line. It’s something that we’ve heard from countless Chicago Bears general managers before, only to see them ignore the position.
Some fans feel Poles is doing more of the same. He signed Lucas Patrick to become the new center but hasn’t done anything else other than to sign a very bad player in Dakota Dozier (46 pressures and 6 sacks allowed, along with 9 penalties the last time he played on the line in 2020). He also allowed James Daniels, arguably the best offensive lineman on the roster, to leave via free agency.
It genuinely looks at this moment that the line is actually worse now than in 2021.
That could change with a nice free agency pickup at a bargain price.
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Eric Fisher would be a good pickup for the Bears. He is still 31 and has a few more good years ahead of him. He would fit in with the new offense we’ll see from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
Apparently, it appears that Poles isn’t married to the idea of Teven Jenkins at left tackle. He could decide to move him over to right tackle. That’s where he spent most of his college career playing. Then he could move Larry Borom to right guard to replace Daniels. However, Borom might also become a left tackle. He is still raw, so having a bridge tackle would help.
Fisher could be that bridge.
Duane Brown is another option. He is certainly older than Fisher at 36, but he can still play. Besides, he is younger than Jason Peters, who the Bears picked up from a fishing trip last year so he could play.
Brown is still a very good tackle and would be great defending Justin Fields‘ blind side. He also adds some of the toughness that Poles stated was missing with the Chicago Bears’ line last season. Furthermore, Brown gives the Bears an incredible leader in the locker room as well as on the field.
The Chicago Bears switched to a 3-4 base defense when head coach Matt Eberflus took over. Why not pick up one of the greatest 3-4 linebackers to ever play, Bobby Wagner?
For whatever reason, the Seattle Seahawks unceremoniously cut Wagner about three weeks ago. He didn’t even get the news of his cut from the team! Incredibly, he is still available.
It is a fantastic thought to have Wagner playing alongside Roquan Smith. Wagner is still one of the top linebackers in the NFL. He has eight consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and made All-Pro First Team in six of them. He is also durable, missing only 10 games in 10 seasons.
The Bears have a history of having some of the best linebackers in league history. They have a chance at having two of them at the same time. In 2021, the two combined for 333 tackles (15 for loss), 8 passes defended, 4 sacks, and 4 quarterback hits.
Having those two players on the same team would bring back the Monsters of the Midway. It’ll make any Chicago Bears fan giddy with excitement, something sorely missing recently.
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