Bears have been quietly building depth

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Since week 17 of the 2013 NFL season Bears general manager Phil Emery has been signing players with expiring deals to new paper. These moves, save a few, have been far from glamorous but they are the moves that build a roster. There is still much work to be done with free agency set to begin a week from tomorrow.

On December 27 of last year, just two days before the ill-fated week 17 showdown with the Green Bay Packers, the Bears announced that new deals had been reached with kicker Robbie Gould and fullback Tony Fiammetta, unofficially kicking off the 2014 offseason.

Five days later and only two days after the 2013 season ended the Bears announced three much high-profile deals for quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings and offensive guard Matt Slauson.

Since then there have been announcements of reserve/future deals and street free agents like Austen Lane and Derrick Martin and then in the last week there have been deals for players like Dante Rosario, Kelvin Hayden and Roberto Garza.

These mostly one-year deals aren't spectacular or headline-grabbing like the Cutler, Jennings or Slauson deals but they are solidifying the foundation for the 2014 Bears team, and putting in place a solid depth base for which free agency and the draft can build up from.

Phrases like "free agency starts at home" or "reward your own first" are what these moves are all about. It takes 53 players to make a roster and, before a team goes out and gives a mega-bucks deal to the hottest free agent, they need to make sure that there is quality depth around those superstars in order to maximize the signings and draftees.

With eight days to go before the opening of free agency the Bears still have several free agents-to-be that they could re-sign. Players like Josh McCown, Jeremiah Ratliff, Corey Wootton, Henry Melton, Zack Bowman and Nate Collins, among others.

The Bears have until Saturday to negotiate with these players, at which point then all teams can begin negotiating with players that will be free agents Tuesday. Saturday is when the rumors will start, visits will begin to be lined up and whispers of "deals in principle."

It will be in the Bears' best interest to get deals done this week with players that feel they need to have for strong depth or to fill out the roster.

Take a look at the list of impending free agents here from Sportrac.com. Who do you think should be priority number one to be re-signed?

Personally I think they need to try to get something done with Collins, Melton and/or Ratliff first. It's well-known that Stephen Paea is the only defensive tackle currently under contract, and getting one of the three mentioned above would give the Bears a nice veteran presence to go with a potential draft pick. I'd also like to see a deal get done with Bowman to get one more corner in the fold, since Tillman may not return.

Which players do you want to see back in the fold before free agency opens?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Windy City Gridiron

You must be a member of Windy City Gridiron to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Windy City Gridiron. You should read them.

Join Windy City Gridiron

You must be a member of Windy City Gridiron to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Windy City Gridiron. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker