NFL free agency begins March 9 and will be the first big NFL offseason event (unless you count the Combine).
Free agency will be the first chance the Bears have to improve their roster this offseason.
The Bears have a lot of needs and should have plenty of money to spend.
On one hand, teams should never try to buy wins in March, rarely do the big spenders in free agency end up vastly improving the following season but Bears fans have seen Ryan Pace judiciously attack roster weak points through free agency with smart, structured contracts that have helped set up the good cap situation the Bears find themselves in.
If Pace wants to spring for a big-name, big-money free agent, he can do so because of the contracts he’s signed players to the past two seasons.
So now let’s turn it over to the WCG contributors, who share who they think the Bears will sign:
Ken Mitchell: I predict that the Bears biggest signing will be A.J. Bouye, CB off the Houston Texans roster.
I also predict another big signing, this one taking people by surprise. Ryan Pace brings in Dontari Poe, the massive and talented DT (Nose) from Kansas City, which allows the Bears to slide Eddie Goldman around on the line. Goldman can be a DE/DT, and Hicks can slide as well, creating chaos for offensive lines to deal with.
My dark horse candidate for a Bears signing to a lower-dollar contract? Quarterback Josh McCown.
EJ Snyder: Players we think they will sign? Hmmm. I'm lousy at that given the past few years as track record (Trevathan aside). Some interesting less-common options I'd like them to kick the tires on? Don't mind if I do:
S: Duron Harmon
CB: Brandon Boykin - they know as much about his medical issues as anybody now... if he's healthy
DE: Damontre Moore
DT: Brandon Williams
TE: Gavin Escobar, Jack Doyle
WR: (assuming Royal goes) Kenny Stills, Marquise Goodwin, Markus Wheaton, Quinton Patton. No real answer for Alshon leaving available in FA.
QB: Mike Glennon (for non-starter money).
Lester Wiltfong: Harmon is going to get a substantial raise to start at FS for someone. One expensive corner and safety please. Harmon is the safety I think they target, and Bouye may be their first choice at corner, but I'm not sure they get him.
Robert Zeglinski: I'll go all in here.
I think the Bears sign A.J. Bouye, providing them a true lockdown young corner.
Then, they'll get the Chargers' Melvin Ingram, adding the necessary pass rush partner Leonard Floyd needs and depth to the outside linebackers.
I would love for them to get Eric Berry, but I think if he hits the open market, he signs with the Falcons. More likely they'll settle on Tony Jefferson from the Cardinals who will also sign for half of Berry's money, even with his more common skill set.
Other guys included: Jack Doyle for tight end depth from the Colts (won't preclude Bears from drafting a young guy).
Sam Householder: Free agency is tough to predict, although I did hit on Pernell McPhee and Eddie Royal a couple seasons ago.
I do think Pace will make a run at a couple of the big name players this year. The Bears have a real need in the secondary and that has to be a focus for Pace. I think he goes after Bouye, like my colleagues. Pairing him with a second year Deiondre Hall and Cre’Von LeBlanc gives the Bears a chance at finding a solid CB duo.
I also agree with my colleagues that Duron Harmon should be their safety target.
I want to agree with Zeglinski about Ingram, I’m just not sure they’re going to go for two big defensive contracts, especially since they will likely get another front seven player at No. 3 overall.
I think that Pace could once again target players that are unvalued and ascending, as he’s done in the past. I think that might line up with players such as WR Terrelle Pryor (especially if Alshon isn’t tagged), OLB Nick Perry or CB Logan Ryan.
I also think another solid veteran on a one-year deal could be Pierre Garcon.
Josh Sunderbruch: I have no idea what Pace will do, but I'd obviously love Poe or Bouye.
Who do you think the Bears will sign?