Ryan Pace is trying something a little bit different this offseason. The Chicago Bears have made a sudden habit of signing a lot of former 1st round draft picks. It started with Robert Quinn, which wasn’t a huge surprise given he was an in-demand pass rusher. However, then came Artie Burns, Barkevious Mingo, and Germain Ifedi. All players who are considered busts by their original teams. If this is the case, why bother signing them.
There is a reason for it. Lucas Perfetti of On Tap Sports Net made a great comparison between what Pace is doing and what legendary New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has done for years.
“(Barkevious) Mingo was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Cleveland Browns. After three disappointing seasons, the Browns traded Mingo to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick. The Patriots are infamous for trading for or signing first-round ‘busts’ for little capital and maximizing their potential. We’ve most recently seen this with Danny Shelton.”
The list of former 1st rounders who have suited up for the Patriots since Belichick took over is rather shocking.
- Antowain Smith
- Tyrone Poole
- Ted Washington
- Junior Seau
- Randy Moss
- Donte Stallworth
- Kyle Brady
- Deltha O’Neal
- Shawn Springs
- Andre Carter
- Shaun Ellis
- Aqib Talib
- Darrelle Revis
- Shea McClellin
- Stephon Gilmore
- Brandin Cooks
- Danny Shelton
Obviously, some of those names were superstars with their original teams like Seau, Moss, and Revis. Others played really well like Gilmore, Cooks, and Washington. However, there are plenty on that list who were considered big disappointments or outright failures. Most of them ended up becoming at least serviceable contributors. Belichick seems to believe that the talent was never an issue. It was a case of being in a bad system under the wrong coaches.
Ryan Pace already saw this tactic work for the Bears
What’s also important to remember is Pace has already dabbled in this strategy himself. With more success than he gets credit for too. In 2017, he signed Prince Amukamara to a one-year deal as a free agent. Amukamara had a largely forgettable time with both the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. Most viewed him as a guy who never lived up to the hype. For the next two seasons, he was one of the best players on the Bears defense.
Also, don’t forget Pace signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last season. He had a flameout in Green Bay, was traded to the Redskins and signed with Chicago on a cheap deal. He played every game, collected two interceptions and was a solid member of a top 5 defense.
So on two notable occasions, the Bears GM saw this tactic work to his teams’ advantage. It would appear he decided to really lean into it this offseason with acquisitions like Burns, Mingo, and Ifedi. That is how much faith he has in their talent and the coaching staff. If the worst happens, all three are gone in 2021.
If even one of them manages to turn the light on? Then Chicago is in a great spot.