5 Free Agency Mistakes Bears Can't Afford To Make............

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Come Up Empty on an Impact Defensive Lineman
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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
    Building a strong defense starts up front, and the Bears have plenty of holes on the defensive line. This unit contributed only 21 sacks last season and was instrumental in the Bears finishing dead last against the run.
    It will be a huge failure if the Bears come out of this free-agent period without an impact defensive lineman.
    Michael Bennett from Seattle is the best pass-rusher on the market. Chicago will have stiff competition from the Seahawks, who are releasing players in order to bring him back, but the Bears still have a good shot at landing him.

    Michael Johnson from Cincinnati had a down sack year last season but is still an impact player. The Bengals have little interest in bringing him back, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Digging farther down the list, you will find Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks and Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston.

    All four players would be a significant upgrade over what the Bears are currently working with. They need to lock up one of these players and bring back Henry Melton at a favorable price if they want to be competitive on defense again.


    Allow Josh McCown to Walk
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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
    The regular season is a tough physical grind that takes a toll on players. It's becoming increasingly rare for a starting quarterback to play an entire season, and the Bears can't afford to give games away because their quarterback has to miss a week.

    When the Bears paid Jason Campbell $3.5 million a couple of seasons ago, he showed he wasn't ready to be the backup QB. Since then, they have found that guy: Josh McCown. Now that they have him, why would they let him walk? He was the primary reason the Bears were even playing for a playoff berth in the final game of the season.
    The investment made in Jay Cutler means nothing to the team if he's out for a few weeks. It was smart to re-sign Cutler and is just as smart to bring McCown back. It would be a terrible decision to be frugal about a player who threw for 13 touchdowns and just one interception in five starts.

    If the Bears don't bring back McCown, three or four teams will be ready to pounce on him in a heartbeat. That's all the more reason to bring back a player who provides a sense of security and peace of mind throughout the year.
    Those kinds of feelings are worth a few million dollars per year.


    Neglect to Bring in Healthy Competition at Safety
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    MARCO GARCIA/Associated Press
    T.J. Ward
    The safety play was a complete disaster for the Bears last year. Chris Conte and Major Wright would stand in the crosshairs alone if it wasn't for an equally bad defensive line to help shoulder the blame.
    It shouldn't just stop with one free-agent safety for the Bears. Signing a player like T.J. Ward would be huge, but it would only cover half of the problem.

    Ward is an in-the-box strong safety who is a tackling machine with improving cover skills. This helps against the run, but there would still be a hole the size of Randall Cobb over the top. Conte will get every opportunity to bounce back and be the starting free safety in 2014, but the Bears better bring in some competition.

    Last year, it was Craig Steltz behind Conte, which meant the Bears were forced to stay with the Conte roller coaster no matter how bumpy it got. A veteran safety has to be signed in addition to an impact option. It would be wise to spend the big bucks at strong safety. Wright is a free agent with no chance at returning in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. This scratches a center field-type player like Jairus Byrd.

    There are solid veteran options at free safety. The Carolina Panthers' Mike Mitchell and New Orleans Saints' Malcolm Jenkins are two intriguing names who won't break the bank.


    Neglect Their Own Free Agents
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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
    D.J. Williams
    Everybody likes to get caught up in outside talent, but it's important to remember that key players on the Bears deserve to come back.

    Veteran linebacker D.J. Williams missed the majority of last year with a torn pectoral. There's so much uncertainty around Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin that it's a no-brainer to bring back Williams for a year. Zack Bowman, Nate Collins, Sherrick McManis, Patrick Mannelly, Jonathan Scott, Eben Britton and Blake Costanzo are all key backups who deserve to return.

    With so many roster openings and free agency just a short time away, it's already concerning that some of these guys haven't been re-signed yet. The Bears can't have their eyes on the big prizes and let other teams pluck their key reserves off one by one.


    Make a Brian Urlacher Type of Move Again
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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press
    Brian Urlacher might have lost the battle last season, but the Bears ultimately lost the war. He recovered from the low offer that the team gave him, while the defense took a beating without its leader in the middle.

    It's one year later, and the Bears are virtually in the same position with Charles Tillman. At this point they need Tillman more than he needs them. It's fair to let him test the market, but the Bears need to bring him back.
    There isn't enough leadership or help on the outside for the Bears to cope with losing him. They still don't know who their middle linebacker is one year later and would have the same issue at corner if Tillman leaves.

    Urlacher wouldn't have been the savior last year, but the defense wouldn't have played as poorly as they did if he had played. Tillman isn't the savior either, but this defense is much better with him. It will cost the Bears less than $4 million per season to keep Tillman. That's a bargain for what he brings to the table. Ego shouldn't get involved, and general manager Phil Emery needs to learn from the past.
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  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    This should make for some interesting conversation. I can't find anything to disagree with here. Every single one of his points is well taken. These are the five main bullet points Emery needs to deal especially those he can control meaning signing his own guys and not playing cheap with still productive vets like Peanut and making them ridiculously low offers he knows they won't accept. He already failed to even make an offer to Devin Hester which I believe was a mistake so already things are stacking up to look like he's even more prepared to let some key players go than re-sign them and then it may be as Yogi Berra once said, "deja vu all over again".
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  3. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    1)yep gotta fill holes before the draft.

    2) eh, kinda bust mostly no, this is not a at any cost signing and cannot be if you want impact D FA's.

    3) see 1

    4) Own FA's I hope they bring back, DJ, Tilllman, Collins, Ratliff or Melton(whoever is cheaper).

    5) wha? Ya b/c BU has been known to be great at shedding blockers behind a crap DL, wait no he hasn't. And w/the inj but that hit the entire team he's doing no good on the bench b/c he's one of the first to go down after Melton/Collins when the OL is eating him for lunch. That war was lost by both sides, BU found out no one thought he had anything left and the Bears were going to be doomed regardless.
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  4. lklrlolnlilklsox

    lklrlolnlilklsox Position Coach

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    6. Swapping Bennett for Wootton.
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  5. 4dabers

    4dabers Veteran DBS Writer

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    I don't know who this writer is, but she indicates that it would cost less than $4 mil to bring back Peanut. How does she know that. My gut is that anything south of $4 mil WOULD CLEARLY bring him back in the Bears eyes, but is CHUCK will to play for that. In my opinion, this is not the same as 54. Brian had already been showing signs of decline, Peanut had not until his injuries last year, and the injuries he sustained were not those like Urlacher had that would hinder his ability to come back and play at the same level. Urlacher was unable to find a deal anywhere else either, Peanut will if he wants to.
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  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I'd like to believe the Bears will probably not make any of those mistakes. I realize it's not a "given" that they can bring Peanut back, but I do hope they can. Fixing the Dline is a no brainer. Yes, we should bring McCown back if it's not too expensive. Our safeties stink, so yes, that position needs fixing. Re-signing D.J. Williams would be a smart move.

    I can't argue with any of that. Pretty much no-brainer stuff, unless some of those players want crazy money to stay.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I would if they can get it done or bring Wootton back for a one or two year deal and see if he can transition to RDE to replace Pep. Coming off of surgery and still not cleared medically plus having a previous injury history I wouldn't think anyone is gonna offer him big bucks until he proves himself more and for a little longer period of time than he has.

    If not Bennett then to me next up would be Johnson and he is a RDE so again they should bring back Wootton to play LDE. I think either way you cut it if Pep is going they still need Wootton in the mix somewhere. The kid has a good attitude and sacrificed his DE stats to do what the team needed him to do and for a guy whose not in any way built to play DT he did a pretty fair job.
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  8. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Veteran

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    The only way I'd be ok not brining Peanut back is if we bring in someone who is better. I'm ok with letting Hester walk...give me a return man who can also help in other areas of the game.
  9. 4dabers

    4dabers Veteran DBS Writer

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    Not only that, he did so in a contract year. Now to be honest, I'm not sure how you tell your coach "no" when he asks you to do something like this, but you are right on the money by giving him the kudo's knowing that his stats that equal money in FA will not be what they should be. I agree with everything above.
  10. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I think that's an intriguing question 4da. I'd bet the Bears have at the very least given him some indication of what they feel comfortable with money wise. Let's look at what info we do have. They say they want him back, he says he'd like to return, it's a friendly situation from all we know and both sides seem to imply that they have to work through the money issue. That makes me think their offer is less than ideal as far as Peanut is concerned so he's gonna take a trip around the FA circuit and see what others may offer and then carry that back to Emery.

    Whether it's $4 mil, less than $4 mil or more than $4 mil my guess is that Emery has a number he's gonna stick with without much willingness to move from it so we need to look at this as still being a 50/50 thing. My guess is Peanut would like a 2 year deal like Ratliff just got but I don't think only $2 mil per with just $600k guaranteed will cut it. He made $8 mil last year and was still playing like the Pro Bowler he is when he got hurt. Offering him less than half that would probably be both unfair and an insult. JMHO
  11. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Veteran

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    Now here is where I'm at with this...as much as I love Tillman...if I'm paying 6 mill or more a year for a corner, I want one who's still in his 20's. I recognize he played well last year, but you can fall off that cliff at any time, and I'd rather spend that money on a corner who is still in his prime than one who may or may not be driving off that road.
  12. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I think with a few of these guys, Wootton and Peanut and probably Melton as well, I think the plan is to let them shop themselves and see what kind of offers they get. To me that's a risky way to go about it especially with three core guys you really need to help resurrect that defense unless you're prepared to match or better those offers and that's not exactly been "Alligator Phil's" style so far.

    There are players in the draft who could potentially replace any one of those three but not all three in just this one draft. FA doesn't have an abundance of replacements for these guys either. I don't know of any CB whose any better than Peanut who wouldn't be looking for as much or more and I think they could find a DE or DT in FA but not both and they absolutely need at least one Safety.

    I think they have the cap room for two vet starters to come from FA and one to two from the draft so bringing back at least one of these guys if not two is pretty important from where I sit. If I'm not too far off base I think Melton will be looking for the biggest deal whereas the other two would probably be content with something fair over two years. In fact they might get both Wootton and Peanut for what Melton would be looking for in guarantees alone. Polian claims his bargaining power is reduced by his injury but vet 3 tech DTs like him are rare and he was a top 5 guy before his injury so I believe someone is gonna take that "leap of faith" as Emery called it but whether or not it's the Bears is yet to be seen.
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  13. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    I am a firm believer of trading/cuting/letting a player walk a year early rather than a year late.

    I love Peanut, but how much gas in left in his tank? What is what he has left worth?
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  14. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Veteran

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    As for the corners on the market, there are quite a few very good one's: Grimes, Rodgers-Cromartie, Davis, Verner, Shields, Munnerlyn, and Tarrell Brown. I wouldn't mind seeing us take a run at any one of those guys.
  15. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    For that kind or money I'd have to agree with you but I'm not convinced it would take that much. What I'm getting a sense of is that he'd like to stay in Chicago (he has a lot of outside interests here and does a lot of community service work) but he wants a "fair" deal not some lowball offer and a "take it or leave it" treatment like Urlacher got.

    I think the article is both fair and correct in the way the author sees it too. When we lost Urlacher it was his leadership that was missed most, not his performance which I would freely admit had declined. But as I've said all along 70%-80% of his play coupled with 100% of his leadership would have made a difference last year. That's not a mistake Emery should repeat and that's all the article is saying not how much Peanut is worth.

    I'm looking at it this way. That secondary will have at least one new Safety if not two and we're still without a vet MLB. Even if DWill returns he's not a long time Bear with the influence that Peanut has on that team. My biggest criticism of Emery so far is that he hasn't taken that factor into consideration when he's been taking out his roster hatchet and at times he appears to be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

    There are two ways to go about this process of rebuilding that defense and if he's following the way the more successful teams do it then he should know he needs to do it on the fly by restocking it little by little each year not by tearing it down and starting over. Isn't it a little strange to you that he talks about getting younger but so far of the guys he bringing back most of them are over 30? I'm not complaining because I believe they were all good signings but Peanut is definitely a guy who should be included in that group because they have no one who can replace him on the roster and anyone they find in FA may cost as much or more in order to get a comparable player if there's even one available who is.

    I believe this is one of those times when Emery needs to be a little more flexible and ready to meet the competition if he needs to.
  16. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Veteran

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    I tend to disagree with you when it comes to leadership on teams. To me length of time with a team really doesn't mean much in terms of being a leader in the locker room. Players will follow you if they respect your level of play. I've seen guys who were leaders of teams whose level of play deteriorated...guess what...their teams performance was effected by their level of play more than it was their leadership.

    As for players available...most of the guys on that list I just mentioned are better than Tillman right now and considerably younger. If I have to spend more money on one of them than I would Tillman I'm willing to do that.
  17. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Grimes is a smaller CB isn't he and I though he was re-signed and I know for a fact that Munnerlyn is only a NB and we just signed Hayden to compete with Frey there. Shields and Rodgers-Cromartie are possibilities and maybe Verner though. Two great advantages we have with Peanut are his size and the fact that he's a turnover machine and you can't really replace either of those two factors well with most of the guys out there either in FA or the draft. Peanut has created more career turnovers than any most other CB in the NFL and the guy plays his best when he's covering a big WR like Megatron and in the past Randy Moss. If we don't want him someone else will.
  18. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    You aren't wrong but in this case he's not shown any evidence of slowing down. Before he was injured he was still playing at a Pro Bowl level and still shutting down guys like Megatron and still being his usual turnover machine. So in this case that saying is no more than a trite old adage that came from someone else who isn't looking at this specific situation and IMHO Benji that's all the needs to be looked at.

    This is not one of those "in general this is the way to do it" deals. This is a still good CB whose been the backbone of that secondary for years. a strong leader, great man in general, and nothing he's done so far on the field proves that he can't still play. If they offer him a two year deal for "fair money" I believe he'd take it in order to stay in Chicago and provided he stays healthy retire as a Bears after 2015.
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  19. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Veteran

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    You're right, Grimes was resigned...sorry. Munnerlyn is not a nickel back...he was Carolina's best corner last year, and he graded out as the best corner in football against the run. Verner is 25, QB's had a 55 QB rating when throwing his way, he was second in passes defensed with 14 and tied for third in interceptions with five and has great ball skills.

    Like I said...I have no problem resigning Tillman, but he's 33 going on 34, and he was injured a lot last year...sooner or later the wheels come off the track.
  20. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    I am not sure he wants a two year deal, based on an earlier thread it sounds like he only really wants one more year.. but either way, I hope he comes back.

    In your mind, what would be a fair 1 year deal, and what would be a fair 2 year deal?

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