As the pursuit of Akiem Hicks continues, the Chicago Bears likely aren’t maintaining their focus on just him. There are still plenty of good options left on the free agent market for them to go after in hopes of improving their roster.
Here is a breakdown of some names you may or may not know and what they could bring to the table if signed.
Casey Hayward (CB)
It really is puzzling that Casey Hayward hasn’t been signed yet. He was one of the top cornerbacks expected to be available. A young, ascending player who was solid in coverage and efficient against the run. Word is he changed agents right before free agency, which may have something to do with the lack of movement on that front.
— KC Chiefs News (@KC_Chiefs_News) March 13, 2016
Still, he’s got the athletic tools, size and experience in a 3-4 defense to fit right in with the Bears. That and they’d be swiping him from the Packers. Never a bad thing.
Nolan Carroll (CB)
The Philadelphia Eagles secondary was a mess last season. One of their few bright spots was the emergence of Nolan Carroll, whom they’d picked up the year before. He was by far their most dependable starter in coverage with two interceptions and 10 passes defended in 11 games before a broken ankle ended his season. He’s just 29-years old and stands a rangy 6’1″ in height. Vic Fangio likes his corners big, so it would be a good fit.
The better news is his ankle appears healthy.
🏃🏽March 9 2016😎 just in case you thought it was fluke pic.twitter.com/dBEbXMWmhe
— Nolan Carroll (@CarrollCity) March 9, 2016
Tony Jefferson (S)
Though he is a restricted free agent, the Arizona Cardinals tendered Tony Jefferson to the lowest deal possible. Put simply, they have the right to match any offer made to the 24-year old safety but don’t get any draft pick back if he leaves.
#Cardinals S Tony Jefferson is an interesting name. Low-round tender as a RFA. Just 24 years old, 15 starts in last 2 seasons. Big upside.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) March 10, 2016
This opens up a big opportunity. Jefferson was their highest rated safety in 2015 after Tyrann Mathieu with an 81.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. He’s steady in coverage but at his best around the line of scrimmage where he racked up 78 tackles, three forced fumbles and two sacks.
David Bruton (S)
Another potential loss on defense from Denver. David Bruton was overshadowed at times by the stars, but the 28-year old safety was far more valuable than people realize. He had 49 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack despite only playing as a reserve (and just 13 games). To top it off, he was a captain on their special teams. This is a football player with value beyond just the defense.
Nick Fairley (DT)
Some are still holding out hope that Akiem Hicks will be signed, but the bottom line is he hasn’t. Maybe there’s a bad sign in that but the fact remains he could go elsewhere. If that happens, the Bears may want to take a calculated risk on Nick Fairley. The big defensive tackle and former first round pick rebounded after an ugly exit from Detroit with a solid season with the Rams.
— Coach Warren (@DemetricDWarren) December 18, 2015
In limited snaps he became one of the best run defenders and also created more than the occasional pressure on the quarterback. At 6’4″, 308 lbs, he could fit in real well at defensive end next to Eddie Goldman.
B.J. Raji (DT)
He’s not the Pro Bowler he was six years ago, but B.J. Raji is still a serviceable defensive lineman with extensive experience playing in a 3-4 defense as well as knowledge of the NFC North division. His run defense wasn’t good at all last season but he did provide considerable movement as a big pass rusher. Perhaps Vic Fangio can squeeze another good season or two out of that body.
Jared Cook (TE)
Would the Chicago Bears be trading one problem tight end for another? Hard to say. There are rumors he became a locker room issues in St. Louis, but a good part of that may have been frustration over not being used enough as well the Rams many problems at quarterback.
Jared Cook is particularly interesting because of his previous work with new #Bears OC Dowell Loggains in TEN.
— Lance (@BestHumanTalent) March 12, 2016
Coming to Chicago where he’d be flanked by Jeffery and White with Cutler throwing to him might be just the ticket to settle him down. When he’s good and focused, Cook is as productive a pass catching tight end as one could find.
Vernon Davis (TE)
This is not the same player of four years ago. Somewhere along the way, Vernon Davis just sort of fell off a cliff. He had just 395 yards and no touchdowns last season for San Francisco and Denver. It’s hard to understand if it’s simple physical decline that is causing it or loss of drive. Still, at age 32 he may have one or two good years in him. Much will depend on health. If nothing else he’d provide decent depth.