The Chicago Bears free agency plan will likely be a lot more reserved than in years past. Most of this is due to the fact that their money is tied up in big contracts already. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Three of their five highest-paid players in 2018 went to the Pro Bowl. The other two were consistent, reliable starters. The Bears are exactly where they want to be. That said, it doesn’t mean they have to stay idle.
There are creative ways they can fill out the depth chart with cheaper free agents who might be good fits for their systems. Veteran players who might have more left in the tank than people realize or failed high draft choices who may have not clicked with their original teams. Chicago is in a position to where they can afford taking such minor risks.
Teams like New England and Baltimore have done it for years, often with productive results. So are there any names that might flying under the radar who could thrive in this Bears system? Here are five people should be watching closely.
Carlos Hyde (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
It really feels like Hyde has been given a raw deal in the NFL. He came in as a high draft choice out of Ohio State with loads of ability. Sadly he lands with the San Francisco 49ers right as they embark on a period where they have four different head coaches in a span of four years and all the scheme changes that go with it.
Then he signs in Cleveland where he’s under the direction of the much-maligned Hue Jackson before being traded to Jacksonville where he serves as a backup to Leonard Fournette. He’s never had a chance to truly settle in during his career. Chicago would be a great place for him due to the price and his noted versatility. Hyde has 119 catches in his career. If nothing else, he’d be an upgrade over Taquan Mizzell.
DeVante Parker (WR, Miami Dolphins)
Most people will see him as a 1st round bust at this point. That’s fair. Parker has never produced more than 750 yards in a season and he’s coming off the worst performance of his career in 2018. Not to mention a series of issues involving both injuries and being in the doghouse of former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.
One should be fair in these cases though. Miami has been plagued by quarterback problems and shuffling coordinators. Amidst the disappointment of the past four seasons though, there have been flashes of brilliance. He just turned 26-years old, so there’s still time for him to realize his potential. At 6’3 he presents that bigger target the Bears seem to be looking for. He’d provide good depth with a chance for more.
Malik Jackson (DE, Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars are in the middle of a massive salary cap crunch, so they’re going to be dumping some of their bigger contracts. At age 30 and having experienced a regression in productivity this past season, Malik Jackson is an obvious choice. Odds are he won’t be making near the money he did the past few years.
At this point his primary focus likely will be trying to get another championship. So giving a discount to contenders would be his course of action. A team like the Bears would make sense in that regard. He has experience playing in a 3-4 alignment and he won a Super Bowl back in 2015 with Denver. His teammate for that run? Linebacker Danny Trevathan.
Robert Quinn (EDGE, Miami Dolphins)
With Khalil Mack in place and Leonard Floyd likely to see his 5th-year option picked up, the Bears may shy away from spending too much at outside linebacker for the time being. That means they will seek out short-term solutions similar to what they did with Aaron Lynch this past year. Lynch is a free agent again but his odds of returning can be called iffy.
Robert Quinn isn’t the dominating force he was six years ago with the Rams. Injuries have sapped a lot of what he used to have, which is unfortunate since he’s only 28-years old. Don’t be fooled though. The guy is still an effective pass rusher. He had 6.5 sacks last season for Miami with 39 pressures overall. Playing fewer snaps and keeping his legs fresh to only rush the passer might do wonders for him in Chicago.
Daniel Sorensen (S, Kansas City Chiefs)
There is a chance that Adrian Amos will be gone in free agency this year. He’s not the only one too. DeAndre Houston-Carson is also coming out of contract. So it’s possible the safety position could take a considerable hit over the next month and the team may have to seek how some help. Matt Nagy has had no qualms about finding answers from his former team in Kansas City before, which is why Sorensen makes sense.
It really felt like he was poised for a breakout in 2018 after a very good run the year before where he started 14 games with three interceptions. Unfortunately, injuries got in his way. He did return late in the season though and he had a big interception in the AFC championship of Tom Brady. The guy has starting capability.