The second part of our series on the free agency activity of the NFC North looks at the Green Bay Packers oldest rival, the Chicago Bears. The Bears have always been a tough team to figure out for me personally. In recent years I’ve come to compare the ways the Bears build their roster to buying furniture at IKEA. It all looks great on paper, in the catalogue, or on display in the store, but then when you try to put it together you are just as likely to end up with a wobbly piece of garbage as you are something to be excited about. This trend continues as the Bears go through a controversial coaching change and some big money investments to their offense.
Key Free Agent Additions
|Name||Position||Old Team||Contract Details|
|Martellus Bennett||TE||Giants||4 year / $20.4 million|
|Zack Bowman||CB||Bears||1 year / TBA|
|Jermon Bushrod||T||Saints||5 year / $35.96 million|
|Henry Melton||DT||Bears||Franchise Tag|
The Bears came out swinging on the first day of free agency with their two biggest acquisitions. First the Bears brought in tight end Martellus Bennett, formerly of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Bennett should provide another target for Jay Cutler and a decent safety valve over the middle of the field. He also really likes Captain Crunch. The Bears also threw big money at former New Orleans Saints’ tackle Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod has been to two Pro Bowls but there is some question as to how much of an upgrade this move brings for the Bears. Finally the Bears helped keep their defense together by re-signing Zack Bowman and placing the franchise tag on Henry Melton.
Key Free Agent Losses
|Geno Hayes||LB||Jaguars||2 year / $1.96 million|
|Nick Roach||LB||Raiders||4 year / $13 million|
|Matt Spaeth||TE||Steelers||2 year / $2 million|
The main problem the Bears are going to face is to their linebacker unit. The Bears lost starter Nick Roach to the Raiders key back up Geno Hayes to the Jaguars. As of this writing Brian Urlacher has not been signed either. While Urlacher has lost a step or two, he is still a quality linebacker and has received interest from other teams…most notably the Minnesota Vikings. These losses have put the Bears in a bad spot for a linebacker, which may force them to look for a solution in the draft.
Other Free Agent Signings
Collins was resigned from the Bears last year. He should provide depth at defensive tackle. McBride is a free agent from New Orleans. He should provide depth at DE. McBride may also compete for a starting role should the Bears move Shea McClellin to LB to help add talent to that unit.
It’s clear that the Bears are looking to improve their offense. While Bushord may not be an upgrade from J’Marcus Webb, having the two of these players for tackles should be better than having Webb and whatever the Bears put out at RT last year. Bennett should also be an upgrade and help take pressure off of Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler. The main question is going to be how the defense can come together given the gapping talent at linebacker and how crucial that unit can be to a Tampa-2 team like the Bears.