The NFL’s “legal tampering” period is upon us. As of 11am CST today, teams can begin meeting with and negotiating with free agents coming out of contract with other teams. Before now, teams could only contact and make decisions on their own players and free agents.
However, no deal can be officially finalized or announced until 3pm CST on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when the new league year officially begins. It’s a big week.
The Chicago Bears have plenty of decisions to make, both with their own upcoming free agents, players they are likely to cut, and improvements to make across the roster. This is a big offseason for Ryan Pace, and we should expect him to attack it with vigor.
As we prepare for the rumor mill and free agent frenzy to kick off into hyper-mode this week, I thought it’d be good to reach into our Bears Mailbag once again and field your questions. Thanks to everybody who submitted — always appreciate the participation.
It may not be the most prudent move, but it is frustrating seeing teams like the Browns, 49ers, Etc making bold moves while the Bears don't. Will this be the offseason that Pace finally takes a risk? If so what are three "risky/bold" moves you would like to see?
— Mason West (@MasonMDubbsWest) March 12, 2018
I have to disagree with the notion that Ryan Pace doesn’t take risks or make bold moves. The trade for Mitch Trubisky last year was a massive gamble — he literally bet his career on that move. He also traded up for Leonard Floyd the previous year, and took a chance on Ray McDonald before McDonald destroyed his life by being an awful human being just days after signing with Chicago. Pace makes bold moves when he thinks it’s the right move for his team. But he’s certainly calculated.
I suppose it also depends on what you consider a bold move. Signing a big-name free agent is usually considered bold. As is trading up or down in the draft. As is trading for a particular player. And given the fact that the Bears have plenty of moves they need to make, you can bet that many of them will be considered risky.
That said, here are three pretty big moves that I’d like to see:
1. Sign Allen Robinson. I think this is pretty self-explanatory.
2. Draft Denzel Ward at 8th overall if Quenton Nelson isn’t there. Ward is the best cornerback in this draft, so from that point of view it isn’t really a “risk”. But Ward doesn’t fit the usual profile of corners that Vic Fangio likes to employ in his defenses. Fangio likes bigger corners with longer arms that are more “suited” for press coverage. Ward is slightly shorter, but man, he is a beast. Watching the way he’s able to stick to receivers like glue is an absolute joy. The Bears’ defense would be ridiculously better if Ward joins the defense opposite …
3. Kyle Fuller once he’s signed to a multi-year extension. Fuller is very good cornerback. He’s young. And his relationship with Fangio seems to be quite good. There’s no reason for the Bears to sit on signing him to a three or four year deal. Forget sitting on the transition tag — lock him up.
If you had to rank the top five quarterback prospects from last year's draft and top five from this year's draft where would they all fall?
— Mason West (@MasonMDubbsWest) March 12, 2018
Mason with the double dip! Appreciate the participation.
If you’re asking for my rankings for both classes stacked with each other, which I’m assuming you are, they’re below. Also, I don’t think there were five QBs in last year’s draft worth comparing, to be honest. This QB class is much deeper, in my opinion, in the sense that there are more QBs with higher floors.
My rankings include raw talent, accuracy, decision making, and how I project them faring in the NFL. It’s all based on college tape. And I’ve also adjusted for any “red flags”. For example, overall I think Josh Rosen is a better prospect than Patrick Mahomes. But the reports of his commitment to football made him slip below Mahomes. These rankings are based on tape I’ve watched as of the NFL Combine.
P.S. I understand that my rankings may not be popular, but this is all based on college tape and pre-NFL stuff. So, for example, I’m not letting Deshaun Watson’s numbers in the NFL affect how I’d graded them before they played in the NFL.
1. Baker Mayfield
2. Mitch Trubisky
3. Sam Darnold
4. Patrick Mahomes
5. Josh Rosen
6. Mason Rudolph
7. Deshaun Watson
8. Kyle Lauletta
9. Josh Allen
10. Lamar Jackson
Who would you try to get in FA besides WR Allen Robinson ?
— Marc Warren (@MidwesternMarc) March 12, 2018
I want the Bears to come away with at least two WRs in this free agency period. So in addition to Robinson, one of Albert Wilson, Paul Richardson, or Jordan Matthews would certainly help steer this team’s talent level in the right direction. Wilson, who played under Matt Nagy in Kansas City, is rumored to be a favorite to land with the Bears, so that’s encouraging.
I’d also like the Bears to add some depth at EDGE. The Bears’ EDGE group is in shambles right now, and can use an infusion of talent. I’d like to see them go after Jeremiah Attaochu, Aaron Lynch, and even the recently released veteran Tamba Hali for depth purposes. This team needs talent and depth at EDGE in the worst way. No names should be off the table at this point. It’ll be prudent to watch roster cuts from other teams, but right now that’s the list of available players the Bears should be looking at.
Chicago should also look for depth along the defensive line, cornerback, and the offensive line. I expect the Bears to be very busy filling holes on the roster this upcoming free agency period. And then I expect them to infuse the roster with young, building block talent at various positions in the draft.
Will this off-season be considered a fail if the bears don’t make a big splash signing? Pace has always done small deals with mid tier players so more of the same probably won’t go over well with ppl.
— Convince (@ConvincingPpl) March 12, 2018
The offseason will be considered a fail if the Bears don’t come away with many of their roster holes filled before the draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean splashy signings are a necessity. What defines a splashy signing, anyway? A big name? Or a big contract? In that sense, I’m hoping the Bears sign Kyle Fuller to an extension that makes him a rich man. I’m also hoping they do what’s needed to secure the services of Allen Robinson. I wouldn’t consider it a failure if they didn’t, but it would certainly help the sentiment surrounding this team.
What really matters, though, is that whoever Pace brings in via free agency and the draft, is able to contribute at a high level right away. This past offseason was a disaster, with so many of the Bears’ free agent additions failing miserably. Chicago can’t afford that. They need difference makers and depth. If they don’t get those two things, then the Bears have failed.