Chicago Bears' general manager Ryan Pace has been aggressive in retooling his roster after last season's 6-10 record. He, his scouts and his coaching staff have evaluated the talent on the roster, and they attacked their needs this offseason in free agency.
The inside linebacker position was bad last year, so enter two new starters Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Defensive line was essentially Eddie Goldman and some guys, so enter Akiem Hicks. Offensive line was shaky, so they bring in Bobby Massie to stabilize the right side at tackle with Kyle Long kicking back in to right guard.
Pace brought back the guys he felt he had to and allowed others to walk. He bolstered special teams and the o-line depth.
In case you missed any of the Bears moves, be sure to check out our free agency tracker right here.
ESPN's Mike Sando, along with Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Field Yates and Mark Dominik, handed out free agency grades for all 32 teams and they gave the Bears a B. This was before the Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen signings, but a B is still a solid grade.
Here's some what they had to say about Pace's off season so far.
The Bears focused more on quantity than quality and still managed upgrades, especially at linebacker. Trevathan's limitations in coverage were a potential concern among the panel given his $7 million salary average. But adding defensive players familiar to the Bears' scheme seemed like a logical approach.
I keep hearing about Trevathan's poor coverage skills, but he was a 3 down ILB for the Broncos. Dan Durkin, one of WSCR's Xs&Os guys, says "Trevathan's coverage skills allow him to remain on the field in passing situations as well." When I watch him play, I see a guy that is fine in coverage as well.
"Trevathan is not the same caliber player of Bobby Wagner or Luke Kuechly, who make $10 million a season," Yates said. "But unlike those guys, he did hit the market, so that is exceptional value for Chicago. Trevathan, Freeman and Hicks all project as Day 1 starters in a front seven that needed it in a major way. Bobby Massie is just as much about Kyle Long playing guard. You have a young back [Jeremy Langford] who will get his first chance to be a bell cow."
I thought the Bears got great value with the signing too. I'm not so sure how much of a bell cow Langford will be. I expect the Bears to add one more RB to the mix and head coach John Fox will ride the hot hand.
Polian called the Bears' approach "sound and solid," even though he, like Dominik, was taking a wait-and-see approach at running back after the Bears cut ties with Matt Forte. Dominik noted that Trevathan and Hicks did not sufficiently address the Bears' need for additional speed on defense. Presumably, that will be an area Chicago targets in the draft.
"They will be looking for outside pass rushers in the draft," Riddick said. "They need more juice off the edge. Without it, that defense does not go. They need to help Pernell McPhee. I like this free agency period for them, especially their signings. They all make perfect sense to me."
I would love to see the Bears add a speedy edge rusher in the draft. Something I have the Bears doing in my Mock Draft 2.0 that will drop in a day or two.
While I think a B is a fair grade from the ESPN crew, I find myself learning more towards an A. Maybe it's some bias, but I thought Pace hit on his needs, he rid the team of a malcontent at tight end while moving up in the draft, and his moves provide him with options come draft time.
What grade would you give the Bears free agency period so far?