The Chicago Bears offseason has been busy. In the first waves of signings, they grabbed a stud edge rusher in Robert Quinn. Jimmy Graham was signed to help create production at the tight end position. They traded for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. The team also found cheap free agents like Artie Burns and Germain Ifedi to help address depth needs and create competition. It seems like the team is done, but should the Chicago Bears look for more free agents?
More importantly, is there anyone else who can provide a need for the Bears that’s cheap? Many fans want the team to invest in rookie offensive line, corners, safeties, etc. The reality is this: the Bears don’t have a lot of draft capital. Not to mention, a lot of rookies take time to develop before they can truly produce. Adding more veteran presence not only brings knowledge and mentorship but helps keep this team competitive in an NFC North division that only got better.
General manager Ryan Pace has found ways this year to create flexibility with money. He’s cut players, converted salary into bonuses, and recently made this move from the Foles trade to free up cap space:
There’s money left to be spent. With all that said, here are some free agents the Bears should keep tabs on:
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
Logan Ryan has been someone that many have thought the Bears would go after. He had a great season with the Tennessee Titans in 2019: 4.5 sacks, four interceptions, and 113 total tackles. He’s an older player for his position at 29, but he played a key role in the Titans AFC playoff run last year.
What’s also to consider is that Ryan could be a cheap solution to the Bears gaping hole at cornerback. Despite the Titans keeping in touch, he’s yet to even have contract negotiations. Ryan has made it clear he would play on a short-term deal; he’d be a prime candidate for the Bears. A short-term deal would also allow the Bears to find a suitable replacement long-term in the draft. Ryan could showcase his abilities and find himself on a longer deal with a new team. Definitely someone the Bears should at least contact.
Chester Rogers, Wide Receiver
The Bears have a solid wide receiver group but are missing that key speedster to spread defenses out. Chester Rogers could be a cheap solution. The 26-year-old free agent has spent his whole career with the Indianapolis Colts. As reported by Pro Football Reference, Rogers is coming off a 2019 season with 16 catches for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also got reps at both kick returner and punt returner. He ended his 2019 season with a knee injury that could be keeping him from resigning with the Colts. He’s a solid depth piece that could complete the receiver group and bring another weapon to whoever starts at quarterback in 2020.
Mike Daniels, Defensive Line
It’s crazy to think a defense with Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, Eddie Goldman, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn needs more, but it wouldn’t hurt. The team lost a contributor in Nick Williams to the Detroit Lines, so why not go after a Lions player right back? Mike Daniels is flying under the radar as big-name defenders like Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen remain free agents. Daniels was a decent contributor for the Lions and would be a nice replacement for Williams.
Eli Apple, Cornerback
Eli Apple was supposed to be a Las Vegas Raider this fall. The deal failed to go through, and the 24-year-old now remains without a team. This could be an absolute steal for the Bears. While he has issues avoiding penalties, Apple is great in man coverage and could be a huge help in the secondary. Similar to Logan Ryan, Apple could sign a one-year prove-it deal to help him earn a larger contract. He’s a young, well-established cornerback who the Bears should already be calling.
Mike Pearson, Offensive Guard
The need to improve the offensive line is very clear. Despite the Ifedi signing, the team needs to find a true replacement at right guard for Kyle Long. A veteran player who can produce and play a teaching role: this team needs the line to produce to have any chance to be a playoff caliber team.
Mike Pearson was recently cut from the San Francisco 49ers. He’s an incredible lineman who could help the team out tremendously. He also has a lot of playoff experience: something this Bears offensive line is lacking. He brings to the table a player who can lead and bolster the line, create running lanes and help get to second waves of blocks, provide good pass protection, and be a good fit short-term.
Stephen Gostkowski, PlaceKicker
Don’t let the Eddy Pineiro game-winner last year fool you: the Bears kicking situation could be improved. If at nothing else, Stephen Gostkowski is a good player to bring in for competition and experience. He’s been to six Super Bowls; the guy’s been around the league for some time. He had a streaky 2019 season that ended early due to injury, but the 38-year-old can still boot it. In a market where kickers come and go, the Bears shouldn’t get too comfortable with Pineiro.
Carlos Hyde, Running Back
The Bears should be looking to find some solid depth at running back, especially more veteran players. Carlos Hyde is heading out from the Houston Texans after they traded for David Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals. He had his first 1,000 rushing season with the Texans and could very easily seek a larger contract.
What could make him a free agent option for the Bears is his age: most running backs at 29 begin to regress a bit. Hyde had a solid 2019 outing, but he’s bounced around teams quite a bit. Hyde has also struggled with injuries in the past. He may be pushing the envelope in terms of money, but perhaps could sign for less after the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s a name the Bears should at least keep under tabs.
Clay Matthews, Outside Linebacker
Clay Matthews is a familiar name to Bears fans: he terrorized the team for years when he played on the Green Bay Packers. As discussed in a recent Overtime Heroics article, Matthews was cut by the Los Angeles Rams to save the team cap space. He had a solid 2019 season, with eight sacks and 27 solo tackles. Even at age 34, Matthews would be an awesome rotational piece for the Bears pass rush. Plus, it’d be nice to see him wreak havoc on his former team.
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