The "legal tampering" period for NFL free agency kicks off at 11:00 am (Chicago time) so we should expect a lot of rumors to start flying around. Teams can't officially sign free agents until 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 9th, but that may not stop players and/or agents from leaking stuff.
We're sure to get some agents trying to play teams against each other to bid up a player's contract, but keep in mind that nothing is official until it is. Even if news leaks of a handshake deal between a player and a team, wait until it becomes official before you start seeking out those 2016 playoff tickets.
The Chicago Bears have a lot of cap space available and a lot of needs to fill. The NFLPA just released the adjusted team salary cap numbers and the Bears 2016 cap looks like it's $156,588,879. According to Spotrac the Bears have about $45 million to play with this offseason.
Here are the 3/7/16 rumors making their way around Chicago's free agency.
The Denver Post is calling Chicago the front runner for Broncos' inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, with the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins also in the mix.. They are also saying that the Bears are a good fit for Bronco defensive end Malik Jackson, although Jackson is seeking $14-$15 million per season with over $30 million in guarantees.
If Jackson proves to be too pricey, the Bears could look towards New England's Akiem Hicks. Bears GM Ryan Pace was working in New Orleans when the Saints drafted Hicks in 2012. The 26 year old is 6'5", 324 pounds and would be an ideal fit for Vic Fangio's 30 front as a defensive end. ESPN speculates the Bears could be interested in Hicks.
Miami's Olivier Vernon, a 4-3 defensive end, is a player that Bears have shown interest in according to the Bear Report's Aaron Lemming. The 'Fins gave Vernon the transition tag, meaning if he is signed away by another team, there will be no compensation. At 6'2", 275 pounds, Vernon may be a candidate to transition to 3-4 outside linebacker, but he may have the strength and leverage to remain on the defensive line. He could command something in the $10 million per season range.
Denver safety David Bruton recently claimed that the Bears were one of three teams that were showing him interest. The 28 year old has appeared in 104 games in his 8 year career making 8 starts.
Last week it was reported that the Bears were actively shopping tight end Martellus Bennett, and with him being spotted in Seattle visiting his brother, and with the Seahawks in need of a tight end with Jimmy Graham rehabbing his knee injury, reporters are connecting the dots. If the Bears are able to trade Martellus, don't expect much more than a low round pick in return.
EDIT: Seattle offensive guard J.R. Sweezy appears to be on the Bears' radar according to the NFL Network's Rand Getlin. Here's what Danny Kelly of Field Gulls had to say about the soon to be 27 year old Sweezy.
He's tough, reliable, and plays a very physical brand of football. Much better in the run game than in the passing game -- he's good at finding and targeting people on the second level in the run game but too often gets worked in pass protection. Has been a starter for three years but there's not much evidence that he's improved greatly during those three years, which is concerning because he actually made the switch from the defensive line to the offensive line out of college. You'd think he'd gradually show improvement as he learns the offensive side of the ball but it seems like there's a bit of a plateau there. That said, he's been healthy mostly the past three years (reliable), is still young, is very athletic, and plays nasty. I'm sure teams will like this, and I'm guessing that's why he's getting a lot of interest. Fits in the zone-blocking scheme because of his athleticism.
TUESDAY 3/8/16 EDITS:
Brad Biggs is still saying the Bears are definitely in on the Trevathan sweepstakes, but he's reporting that the Tennesse Titans are now in the mix as well.
Biggs spoke with Bears special teamer Sherrick McManis and he said he hopes to be back in Chicago. McManis struggled when he played nickle last year, but he was probably the Bears' best 3rd phase player.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN is reporting that the Bears are interested in Atlanta Falcons OLB O'Brien Schofield. The 28 year old Schofield started 10 of the 16 games he played in last year, making 30 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. He played 500 snaps on D and another 70 on special teams last year.
EDIT: More concrete info on the Bears being interested in Hicks.
Bears among the multiple teams to have expressed interest in former Saints/Patriots DE Akiem Hicks.— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) March 8, 2016
There are no legitimate reports about Jimmy Graham being involved in a deal to come to Chicago.
Also in case you missed it, Alshon Jeffery officially signed his franchise tag tender.
Click here for all the latest (3/9) free agency news and rumors.