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NFC North in Free Agency: Bears swapped defensive backs, added top kick returner

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Let’s take a look at the signings the Chicago Bears made in free agency this offseason.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers play their division rivals twice a year, so regular Acme readers have surely kept an eye on what the Lions, Bears and Vikings have done during the offseason. We’re going to take a look at what new acquisitions could contribute to their new squads and why each team might have felt they could fill a hole on their respective rosters.

The next team we’re looking at (we covered the Lions here), is our friendly rival to the south, the Chicago Bears. The Bears won the division last season after adding Khalil Mack and being big buyers in free agency last season. Ultimately, that jump started their team’s progress faster than anticipated.

By being big buyers and traders last offseason, the Bears took a more subdued approach this offseason, in part due to a lack of resources. Their most impactful signing might be Cordarrelle Patterson for two years and $10 million. Patterson has bounced from team to team over the past couple seasons, but proved himself to be a valuable weapon for the New England Patriots last season. It should be noted that the Patriots were fairly thin due to injuries, but Bears HC Matt Nagy could dial up some fun things for Patterson to do.

Patterson’s kick return ability scares me and other Packers fans who were clamoring for Special Teams coordinator Ron Zook to be fired. We don’t know what the Packers will look like on special teams just yet, but containing Patterson will be a priority. Patterson has six career return touchdowns and averages 30 yards per return.

Next, the Bears addressed their secondary which could use a boost to complement their formidable pass rush. With Eddie Jackson anchoring the secondary but Adrian Amos finding his way to Green Bay, the Bears gave a one-year prove-it deal to former Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Ha Ha was traded to Washington in the middle of last season, but is now looking to prove himself by returning to being one of the top safeties in the league. Playing his way to a new contract is definitely a thing to keep an eye on. With two games against the Packers he’ll either be exploited or his knowledge of Packers tendencies could be used to his advantage.

The Bears also threw a big contract at Buster Skrine to add another corner to their secondary, but luckily, only about half of his $16 million deal is guaranteed. Skrine isn’t a player to make the NFC North shake in their snow boots, but the Bears pass rush allows for short coverage times by the secondary in man-to-man. Still, he appears to be a noticeable step back from Bryce Callahan, who manned the slot last year and followed former DC Vic Fangio to Denver as a free agent.

Mike Davis is an interesting signing by Chicago, especially in light of the team’s trade of running back Jordan Howard to Philadelphia. The Bears are apparently impressed with Davis’ athleticism, but as Howard fantasy owners might know, it felt like Howard was being run into the back of an offensive line that couldn’t open up very many holes. That’s either a lack of vision on Howard’s part, or a lack of a creative run-scheme when it didn’t involve Tarik Cohen. If Davis hits in a way Howard did not, the Bears offense will be better.

The Bears open the season at Soldier Field against the Packers, so the green and gold will get the first look at these new pieces in Week 1.

Major Additions

  • WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson
  • S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
  • CB Buster Skrine
  • RB Mike Davis
  • WR Marvin Hall

Re-signed

  • TE Ben Braunecker
  • OT Bobby Massie
  • P Pat O’Donnell
  • DL Nick Williams

Departed in Free Agency/Released

  • LB Sam Acho (unsigned)
  • S Adrian Amos (Packers)
  • WR Josh Bellamy (Jets)
  • CB Bryce Callahan (Broncos)
  • RB Benny Cunningham (unsigned)
  • OLB Aaron Lynch (unsigned)
  • TE Dion Sims (unsigned)
  • WR Kevin White (Cardinals)