After taking a look at one half of the Bears secondary on Tuesday with the safeties, we'll dive into the corners this time out. There's a good chance this position will have a drastically different look to it because of free agency. One of their starters, the primary backup, and the #2 nickleback all have expiring contracts.
With the aid of Pro Football Focus, and their unique grading system, we'll look at Chicago's potential roster turnover this off season.
Charles Tillman - Signed through 2013 - Peanut finally made his first Pro Bowl after being on the cusp a few times. His turnover creating skills are approaching legendary status in Chicago. He's only 8 away from Gary Fencik's franchise best 38 interceptions, his 27 forced fumbles trails only Richard Dent's 34, his 5 interceptions returned for touchdown is most ever, and he's only 1 TD behind Mike Brown for most defensive TDs in Bears history. He's had his share of critics, but year in and year out he plays a damn good corner.
Pro Football Focus had Tillman as the 10th best corner in football with a +9.5, and his highest graded game was his week 10 match up with Calvin Johnson and the Lions. PFF had him credited with 102 total tackles, the most of any cornerback last year.
Tim Jennings - Free Agent - Jennings dosen't look the part of a physical corner at just 5'8", but he's another guy that is good in the Bears system. He was benched late in the season for some poor play, but I think that was an anomaly. He's been a solid player for Lovie Smith during his time in Chicago. PFF had him with 73 solo tackles which was tied for 3rd amongst all corners. His +7.4 grade ranked him right behind Champ Bailey at number 17. His coverage skills have been brought into question, but quarterbacks throwing at him only had a 68.8 QB rating. I think Jennings will be back in 2012 playing opposite Tillman.
Zackary Bowman- Free Agent - I think Bowman had his chances to show he belongs and he couldn't get it done. I don't think he's back next year. In his limited snaps he had a -3.4 grade. I had high hopes for Bowman when he was drafted, it just never consistently clicked for him. The only way I see him returning is if the Bears value his special teams contributions, and feel they need to keep him around because of his familiarity with the system.
D.J. Moore - Signed through 2012 - The Bears are happy with Moore at nickleback. He's a sure tackler, a capable blitzer, and he seems to have a nose for the ball. Injuries had him miss 3 games last year, but in 2010 he didn't miss any time. PFF had him with a -3.6 overall grade and a -1.6 for his pass coverage, but he was 12th best among corners with a QB rating of 60.9 against his coverage. He did allow nearly 70% of passes competed against him, but in the Bears system giving up a short reception and making the tackle is OK. I would not be surprised if the Bears extend Moore's contract during the season.
Corey Graham - Free Agent - Graham played well filling in for D.J. Moore at nickle during Moore's absence. He picked up 3 interceptions in just 89 defensive plays, and on the season his few snaps garnered him a +3.4 grade from PFF. Did he show enough in his limited time on D for another team to take a chance on him? I think the Bears would like to bring back their special teams Pro Bowler, but they won't overpay to keep in in Chicago. There's a good chance they allow him to sign elsewhere.
Joshua Moore - Signed through 2013 - His rookie season was spent mostly inactive. In 2011 he was on the practice squad. In 2012 he might be looking for a job. Moore should have his chance to shine with someone leaving via free agency, but he may have to compete with a draft pick.
2012 OUTLOOK - The Bears will draft a corner at some point, and they will lose at least one of their free agents if not two. The Bears could decide to let Jennings go and make a push for Cortland Finnegan, PFF's 3rd graded CB, but I just don't see them going the free agent route. The Bears have a number in mind that they'll allocate to the position, and it depends on how much Jennings and Graham are asking for if one or both will return.