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Grading the Chicago Bears’ Free Agency Moves

To say this free agency period has been wild is an understatement. Teams have been trading and signing players like crazy. DeAndre Hopkins got traded for pennies while Stefon Diggs demanded a pile of gold. The Chicago Bears started this free agency period quietly but made some key moves. Here are the Chicago Bears’ free agency moves (also includes trades).

Chicago Bears’ Free Agency Moves Grades

Danny Trevathan, Inside Linebacker

Sep 23, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) gestures against the Washington Redskins at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Before free agency truly began, the Chicago Bears knew they had to make a decision. Both of their inside linebackers, Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski were becoming unrestricted free agents. Danny Trevathan is the veteran presence that when healthy, is one of the top linebacker talents in the NFL. Kwiatkoski, on the other hand, is the young buck who has proven himself as a hard-nosed, hard-working inside linebacker who has gotten limited starting time due to Roquan Smith and Trevathan both being there. The Bears went with what seemed to be the right decision signing the proven veteran. This shows the Bears are aware of their window and want to win now; they do not want to hope a 26-year-old who has never started a full season can do it. Although, the deal is a little pricey for an almost 30-year-old linebacker coming off a season-ending injury.

Grade: B

Jimmy Graham, Tight End

Jan 19, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (80) runs the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears made their first move in free agency by adding veteran tight end Jimmy Graham for a two-year deal for $16 million with $9 million guaranteed. Graham isn’t playing at the level he once used to play at, but Graham still had almost 500 receiving yards last season for the Green Bay Packers. On the other hand, none of the Bears’ tight ends had more than 100 receiving yards last season. It’s safe to say besides a healthy Trey Burton, Graham is the best tight end on the roster. Who knows, maybe Graham will be like Jared Cook and need an escape from the Packers to show he can still play. Aaron Rodgers has been known to not target his tight ends much.

As awful as people may think the move is for the contract of a 33-year-old tight end, Ryan Pace still addressed a position of need for the Bears. In doing so, he added a five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro with a lot of experience. He also added the second-most productive tight end on the market behind Austin Hooper.

Grade: C+

Robert Quinn, Defensive End

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Robert Quinn looks towards the stands during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Ryan Pace started my birthday with a splash. Pace added the star defensive end to a five-year, $70 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. After the Bears struggled to rush the passer once Pro Bowl defensive tackle Akiem Hicks went down, Pace noticed that the Bears need more pass rushers. In order to add Robert Quinn to this contract, the Bears also released former first-round pick, Leonard Floyd. Floyd was great in coverage and great against the run, but tallying only one sack over the last 15 games was just not worth the $13.2 million in cap space. The only problem with this deal is Quinn had his first good season in awhile, so they deal is a tad risky.

Grade: A

Nick Foles, Quarterback

Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Around 12 p.m. CST, Adam Schefter announced that the Chicago Bears acquired Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fourth-round compensatory pick. This next season, Nick Foles will cost the Bears around $15 million in cap hit. After that, he will cost around $15 million in 2021 and $20 million in 2022. Foles will come in and be great competition for young quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Foles has experience with head coach Matt Nagy and experience in winning a Super Bowl. A solid addition for a solid price.

Nick Foles already has restructred his contract with the Bears, per source. He still has three years left, still has $21 million guaranteed left, but Foles now has the ability to void the deal after either of the first two years depending on his performance. Deal includes upside.

Adam Schefter via Twitter

Another interesting piece obtained from Hub Arkush via Twitter. In Foles’ best season in which he threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions with an astounding 119.2 passer rating, his quarterbacks coach was Bill Lazor (the current Bears’ offensive coordinator). The year the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Foles at quarterback, his quarterbacks coach was John DeFilippo who is the Bears’ current quarterbacks coach.

Grade: C+

Deon Bush, Safety

Aug 31, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears strong safety Deon Bush (26) takes the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Deon Bush was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Miami. Since then, Bush hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time mainly serving as the backup to Adrian Amos and then Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but Bush has performed well in the times he has played. Back in the 2018 playoffs, Bush and Amos had to start due to an Eddie Jackson injury. He outperformed Amos that game and played extremely well. Unfortunately, he got smoked week one of 2019 by the Bears’ new tight end, Jimmy Graham. Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is a huge fan of Bush, but expect the Bears to still target a veteran safety like Tony Jefferson or a rookie early in the 2020 NFL Draft. Bush will still compete for the starting job. Overall though, really cheap, great deal for a low-end starting safety.

Grade: B+

Artie Burns, Cornerback

Nov 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns (25) against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Steelers won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Former first-round pick Artie Burns flopped in his time in Pittsburgh. In his first season, it seemed the Steelers had found a gem in Burns as a first-rounder, but over the last two seasons, he only started seven games. The young 24-year-old brings some good experience and competition to the Chicago Bears second cornerback position on a one-year prove-it deal. Now, Burns will have to prove it by competing with Canadian Football League star and former Illinois State University Redbird Tre Roberson and young undrafted free agent Kevin Toliver II who has shown some promise last season. Maybe a change of scenery will help the former first-rounder. Pace continues to add important pieces he knows are needed for the team. Next, expect him to address the offensive line, wide receiver core, or another strong safety.

Grade: B+

Jordan Lucas, Strong Safety

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety Jordan Lucas (24) against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Just two days after re-signing safety Deon Bush, the Bears bring in some more competition for their strong safety opening. The Chicago Bears sign strong safety Jordan Lucas to a one-year deal. The Bears got Lucas extremely cheap to give Bush some competition for the position. Lucas is known to be a stud on the special teams for Kansas City over the past two seasons. In addition to this, this reinforces the idea that Eddie Jackson should be starting in his natural free safety position contrary to him starting at strong safety last season when Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was in town. This also may mean that the Bears will not add a stud strong safety like Vonn Bell or Tony Jefferson, which would be a shame.

Grade: B

Barkevious Mingo, Linebacker

Houston Texans outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (52) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Barkevious Mingo agreed to a cheap, one-year deal with the Chicago Bears to join their completely retooled defense. The starting defense for the Bears looks relatively the same, but behind the starters, the defense looks much different. Mingo has experience with head coach Chuck Pagano back in 2017 when Mingo was there and Pagano was the head coach. Mingo also has experience with special teams coach Chris Tabor who was with the Browns with Mingo. Back in 2013, Mingo was the sixth-overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Since his time in Cleveland, he has bounced all over. Mingo has been a valuable asset for every team he has been on and he has been very healthy appearing in all 16 games every season since 2015. Mingo will likely replace the void left by Nick Kwiatkoski who was a star on special teams. He should also replace Aaron Lynch as the rotational and backup outside linebacker.

Grade: B

Brent Urban, Defensive End

Dec 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) carries the ball as Chicago Bears defensive end Brent Urban (92) tackles in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears continue to stock up on defense. According to Urban’s wife, Urban is returning to the Bears on a one-year deal. His wife didn’t reveal any other terms to the deal. Urban was originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round. He spent part of 2019 in Tennessee until he was released mid-October. The Bears then picked him up to help with some injuries especially to star defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. As a rotational defensive lineman, Urban tallied 16 tackles, one being for a loss, and a QB hurry. The 6’7″ 300-pound defensive lineman was solid against the run. He’s a good addition to aid in the loss of Nick Williams.

Grade: B-

DeAndre Houston-Carson, Free Safety

Nov 12, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Trevor Davis (11) returns a punt against Chicago Bears defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson (36) during a game at Soldier Field. The Packers won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston-Carson was brought back to Chicago on a one-year deal. He has has been a great special teamer for the Bears and will likely serve as the main back up to Eddie Jackson at the free safety position. He was drafted in the 2016 NFL draft in the sixth round.

Grade: B-

Isaiah Irving, Outside Linebacker

Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Chicago Bears linebacker Isaiah Irving (47) tackles Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) in the first half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Irving comes back to Chicago on a one-year contract as well. Irving had interest elsewhere but chose to stay in Chicago. Irving has been great on special teams as well and could find himself earning time at the edge rusher position due to the little depth the Bears have there. He was an undrafted free agent in 2017 out of San Jose State.

Grade: B-

Patrick Scales, Long Snapper

There isn’t much to say about a long snapper returning. Scales signed a one-year deal to remain with the Bears. This reinforces that the Bears special team trio of Scales, Eddy Piniero, and Pat O’Donnell will remain the same.

Grade: B


This free agency hasn’t been as wild for the Bears as it has been for others, but Ryan Pace is making the right moves to make the Bears contenders once again, and I am all for it. He is trying to add players who have a lot of experience to aid their young players. Some of the deals may be pricey, but hey, at least the Bears didn’t trade away DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick!

Chicago Bears Free Agency Grade: B+

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Joseph Herff
College student trying to make a name for myself in the sports writing industry.
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