It is expected to be a very busy pending free agency period come next week for the Chicago Bears. They are expected to load up on a heavy run for Buffalo Bills cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, Buccaneers quarterback, Mike Glennon, and Ravens right tackle, Ricky Wagner according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
A variety of league sources at the this year’s Scouting Combine have set this baseline of expectations on player targets for what exactly general manager Ryan Pace plans to do come next Thursday, March 9th and in the preceding negotiation period from March 7th to 8th.
The 26-year old former first round pick in Gilmore is set to cash in on the open market as one of the top free agent cornerbacks available next to the Houston Texans’ A.J. Bouye - who enjoyed a breakout 2016 season. In his career, Gilmore has 62 passes defensed, 198 tackles, and 14 interceptions. The five-year veteran made his first career Pro Bowl last season as an alternate after a career-high five interceptions.
Reports maintain that Gilmore could command upwards of $13 million dollars per season on the hectic open market which is interesting to note given that’s the likely price for Bouye. It seems possible that Pace and company value and have more trust in handing out a huge sum of a money to a player who has already been among the league’s best for quite awhile in Gilmore. Make no mistake, he is not a consolation prize. This is one of football’s true lockdown players and ballhawks.
On other fronts, Glennon is an attraction for his apparent upside. The 27-year-old and former 2013 third round pick lost his starting job to Josh McCown in Tampa Bay during the 2014 season. The Buccanneers would use the number one overall pick on Winston in the 2015 draft, putting Glennon’s future into doubt, while Smith would be let go following the 2015 season.
In 21 games over three seasons (18 as a starter), Glennon has 4,100 yards, 30 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and has completed 59.4 percent of his passes all putting a together a passer rating of 84.6. Does that sound familiar? Well, it should.
For mere comparison’s sake, a glance at two potential stopgap options for the Bears next year.
31 yr old Brian Hoyer: 59.5 Comp%, 3.7 TD%, 2.2 Int%, 84.8 passer rating— Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) March 3, 2017
27 yr old Mike Glennon: 59.4 Comp%, 4.8 TD%, 2.4 Int%, 84.6 rating
More interestingly, here’s also Jay Cutler in comparison to Brian Hoyer and Glennon.
Jay Cutler, 34 years old in April: 61.9 Comp%, 4.6 TD%,3.3 Int%, 85.7 passer rating https://t.co/EDFoG3zrYl— Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) March 3, 2017
Although, to be fair, for Cutler to be in this company may be more of an indictment.
Nevertheless of the quality of veteran options, the Bears’ interest in Glennon has been made known, who reports maintain the Bears could pair with a high draft pick from April to develop. That’s not surprising, considering many have long thought Chicago would do the same with a quarterback like Hoyer and a young player to mentor.
Glennon is expected to be the price range of $10 to $12 million per year. Needless to say, it would be quite the price to pay for a stopgap or equivalent backup.
While Pace did praise his team’s offensive line on Wednesday during a pre-Combine press conference where he talked about it as the important piece of success for a young quarterback, he might have also tipped his hand.
Chicago is expected to pursue pending free agent Ravens right tackle, Ricky Wagner, who by most estimations, is the best available on the market.
Some will question this move considering stability Bobbie Massie offered on the right side of the Bears’ offensive line in September, but Wagner would be a massive upgrade to a team that could use a true book-end on either end of it’s offensive front. Massie signed a three-year, $18 million dollar deal with Chicago last offseason, but only $6.5 million is guaranteed. In the event of acquiring Wagner, it is highly unlikely Massie would be outright released. But that is always possible since there is not much money committed. Instead, he would just become quality depth as a swing tackle.
As far as what Wagner would bring to the table: The Bears do have one of, if not, the best offensive interior in the league, and an addition like Wagner could have them vault into possessing a potential top five offensive line.
Pro Football Focus named Wagner their 28th best overall free agent after franchise tag designations and as their best in the top 10 of underrated free agents. Here’s what they had to say about what the 27-year-old in the latter:
“The infrastructure is in place for a young QB to succeed because of the team’s offensive line,” said Pace on Wednesday.
And as for the elephant in the room otherwise known as Alshon Jeffery? He told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Thursday that he has no “hard feelings towards the Bears...it’s all love” in regards to not franchise tagging him for the second time. As he delved further, he shed some curiosity on his situation in Chicago.
That sure doesn’t sound like a guy wanting to come back. Chicago is nowhere close to a championship at the moment in the midst of their rebuild, that’s for sure. Jeffery did guarantee the Bears would win the Super Bowl next year, but he never actually specified with which team in his actual comment.
Moral of the story: It seems that as the Bears are ready to move on from their star-crossed receiver in Jeffery, so is he likened to move on to potential greener pastures.
Nevertheless, its interesting to note no smoke has been maintained on another cornerback and even one safety from Chicago’s perspective, though, that can always dramatically change from the initial reports. We haven’t even exited or began the negotiation period yet after all. Don’t be surprised to see the Bears pop up with other names in these niches.
Soon, the anticipation and political public spin by NFL teams will end, and we’ll know just who or who isn’t a Bears uniform come the 2017 season and farther. Get your popcorn ready.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron and Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.