The Bears have big needs on their roster and have plenty of holes to fill. Free agency is one way to do this, although it is typically not the route that teams prefer to use.
The best way to build a team is still through the draft but free agency can be a big way to compliment any draft shortcomings or to add to depth.
The new regime led by Ryan Pace went about free agency in a good way last year, focusing on a a younger player on the rise in Pernell McPhee instead of the older players more likely to start their career downslide in a big-money free agent deal.
He complimented the McPhee signing by adding many more players on one-year prove-it type deals that were cap-friendly.
This is compared to the previous regimes of Jerry Angelo and Phil Emery when big money was shelled out to players that were sometimes worth it (Julius Peppers) and sometimes not (Michael Bush) and sometimes were not worth the money (Lamarr Houston).
In any event, Pace would be wise to attack free agency as he did last year: Target players coming off their rookie deals who are hitting their prime and have room to grow as players. These players will be slightly cheaper than the proven, more veteran players and will be more likely to see the end of their free agent deals.
One such possible target could a defensive tackle like Damon Harrison of the New York Jets.
Harrison is a 6'4" 350-pound run-stuffing DT. He was undrafted out of William Penn University, an NAIA school (imagine a 6-foot-4-inch 350 DT at a Quaker college of 1,700 students that's football nickname is the Statesmen).
Harrison has worked to overcome the NFL odds to become a great run-stuffing defensive lineman on one of the deeper DLs in the league. He may be overlooked without the sack numbers and draft stature of his teammates like Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams but he is listed as Profootballfocus.com's No. 4 free agent.
He lacks the snap count of teammate and likely-high-priced free agent Wilkerson, but a year ago so did McPhee.
The Bears run defense ranked 22nd last year and could use a run plugger of Harrison's ability. The question is how much will he cost?
Well our sister site Gang Green Nation said last month that he could be seeking a deal worth $10-$12 million per year, along the lines of Geno Atkins and Haloti Ngata. While that might be too much for a team trying re-sign Wilkerson and their quarterback, the Bears have a ton of cap space and could fork over a little more money. And who knows, maybe with his lack of all-important sack stats and a low snap count, his price could drop once real-world offers start floating in.
Do you think Damon Harrison would be worth signing for the Bears?