So much for drama and a drawn out NFL free agent period.
It seems that before the new league year even starts at 3 p.m. CST this afternoon, many of the foundational premium pieces will already be gone after a crazy day two. These developments weren’t shocking per say. Teams are always active in working deals with new acquisitions.
It just makes one think...what’s left?
Sure, verbal agreements can always fall through and there is the reporting used as a negotiating tactic. But these cases are few and far between once news officially filters through. Let’s see where the Chicago Bears stand after day two from a 27-year-old quarterback hanging around, to negotiating snags with a premium secondary target.
Glennon as a Bear being locked in
Wednesday kicked off with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting that Glennon to Chicago was “all but done.” Rapoport made sure to note that the contract will be for three years and $45 million. Other contract stipulations such as structure or guaranteed money have not been made known yet.
With that, it’s clear the Bears are all in on this bridge quarterback idea (drafting one should still be a high priority) of Glennon, or even possibly, the long-term starter. Given the likelihood of him ending up as a Bear, the spin and analysis across the league of this move is in full swing.
For one, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported that a current head coach likened Glennon to Matt Ryan, as he is “similar skill-wise.” That might seem eye-opening now considering that Ryan just won the NFL’s MVP and Offensive Player of the year, but remember that is merely comparing how the two actually play in style, so it’s not wholly unreasonable.
The Bears just may know something many don’t.
On the other end of the spectrum with the man many expected the Bears to use as the bridge quarterback in Brian Hoyer, he’s on his way to San Francisco reports Rapoport. It’s on a two-year deal as the Glennon reality set in Chicago, so must have the 31-year-old Hoyer needed to find a new home quickly.
What’s interesting to note here, is whether this Hoyer signing will impact potential plans for the Bears to select one of the upcoming draft’s top quarterbacks at number three overall. The 49ers and new head coach Kyle Shanahan could be looking to apply the same bridge quarterback plan while developing a highly touted rookie. Obviously, San Francisco is ahead of the Bears in the draft order at number two, so they may take the Bears’ first choice at passer with Texas A&M’s edge defender in Myles Garrett the consensus number one pick.
Hoyer is a quality veteran addition for the 49ers either way, but this is just something to monitor as the Bears have apparently found their new veteran option in Glennon.
Lions swoop in and steal Rick Wagner
Here’s the first real buzzkill of free agency for Halas Hall.
After what was rumored strong interest in the Ravens right tackle from Chicago, the NFC North rival Lions locked in a strong offer for the veteran and he now instead appears to be heading to Detroit, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (with the timeless: “last minute snag in negotiations). According to Rapoport, the deal is $9 million per season, making Wagner the highest paid right tackle in the NFL. In addition to the Bears, the Panthers, and another NFC North team in the Vikings were also in on Wagner before his agreement in principle.
It’s likely the Lions - who had less needs than Chicago - focused their efforts in on offering a deal that would let Wagner set the market to solidify their offensive line, versus the Bears who have eyes in various niches. Such is the negotiating game.
It no doubt hurts the Bears to lose out on Wagner to a direct competitor they’ll have to play twice a year - at minimum - but you can’t technically overpay for everyone. It’s about an allotment of resources.
For now, it looks like they may be settling in on their consolation prize at tackle in the Lions’ Riley Reiff, per the Bear Report’s Aaron Leming. Reiff had a down year in 2015 but otherwise the 28-year-old has been mostly solid throughout his career. Given his position flexibility - he can play both right and left tackle - many are still expecting him to see around the same range of money that Wagner received, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Flexibility is key for when injuries may strike on the line, after all.
Remember, “infrastructure in the team’s offensive line” has been highlighted here by Bears general manager, Ryan Pace. Reiff still fits that moniker in giving Chicago an upgrade. If they can nab Reiff off of the market, not all is lost in completing their ideal offensive front for Glennon, a young quarterback, or whomever.
Alshon, is that you?
The more time passes, the more it seems like Pace played the Alshon Jeffery free agent situation perfectly. A week ago, most would’ve felt that letting Jeffery become a free agent without a tag meant he was all but gone. Now, with the market drying up and interest supposedly not as highly estimated for Jeffery’s camp, the two parties may be headed for a reunion.
“There are certain instances where testing the market is a necessary part of the free agent process,” said Pace on his Jeffery dilemma last week at the Scouting Combine.
That’s exactly what the Bears have done for their star receiver and it’s all coming up roses back for them. Just take a look at receivers that were supposed to set benchmarks for Jeffery in negotiations as well as teams heading in other directions.
The Dolphins’ dynamic deep threat, Kenny Stills, is returning to Miami on a four-year $32 million dollar deal, reports Schefter. Before free agency, some were pegging Stills to be making in the $10 to $12 million range and that drop back can’t help a talent who is definitively better in Jeffery price-wise.
There’s also Brandon Marshall, who after being released by the Jets, found a new home with the Giants on a two-year deal worth just $12 million, also according to Schefter. That’s interesting, considering Marshall is 33-years-old and is coming off the worst statistical output of his career. However, with a more stable quarterback with Eli Manning and overall more talented offense (hello Odell Beckham Jr.), it’s hard to see Marshall slowing down completely just yet. Settling for $6 million here is also a hit to Jeffery.
Then, in a rare victory in this under-the-table negotiation, the Redskins’ Pierre Garcon snagged a new deal that will pay him $16 million front-loaded in his first season with San Francisco, reports ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. That isn’t quite near the long-term deal Jeffery would point to in a peer like Garcon, but he is a lesser talented player than him, so it is a boost.
In a precursor to free agency, don’t forget that Antonio Brown - a man many consider the best or second best receiver in football - now makes $17 million per season on a new contract extension. There’s always the possibility that teams have used Brown’s deal as leverage against Jeffery in saying “we’re not paying you more than him.”
Regardless, the most important note here is for a team that was always rumored to be heavily in on Jeffery: The Philadelphia Eagles only have $6,251,224 million in cap space, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
So where exactly are they fitting in this mega-deal Jeffery would want? Unless it happens in a trade (right, how?) or there’s some dramatic roster tinkering, it would appear this door is closed.
To recap, not only is Jeffery’s market being over-estimated by the 27-year-old, it’s also shrinking by suitors. The more time passes and the more holes are filled, the more it seems a reunion in the mold of 2008 Lance Briggs’ free agency may be in the works for the receiver and Chicago.
Tug of Gilmore
Ever the panic and antsy mechanics of this frenzy, it now appears the Bears have some salary disagreements with their top corner target, per Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, as the team is “calling for other cornerback’s agents.”
When you consider that Gilmore is rumored to want upwards of $13 million per season, it’s easy to see why the Bears would be a little apprehensive. That’s while also understanding they probably still have to overpay for a position that always receives more than intended value in free agency, of course.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson reports that Gilmore is using the Giants’ Janoris Jenkins’ deal from last March as a baseline in negotiations with Chicago. Jenkins signed a five-year, $62.5 million dollar contract last season with over $28 million guaranteed and a $10 million dollar signing bonus. That seems incredibly lucrative but is more than fair for Gilmore’s services and what he can offer the Bears as a starting point.
Of note, the Falcons’ Desmond Trufant - who is not a free agent - is receiving a contract extension that will reportedly pay him in the $13 million range. Trufant is another player similar to Gilmore in caliber and on the overall market, so that bodes well for him in working out a deal. A perfect scenario for the 26-year-old.
With all of that in mind, Gilmore really is a player the Bears can’t afford to lose, so even while their current talks may not be going well, it’s hard to see them letting him slip through their fingers while the rest of the market settles in a way they may not like and they end up empty handed. It’s doubtful these talks have lost that much heat. Now’s the time to work through any roadblocks by tomorrow afternoon. The dawn of a new day brings a new light.
Big chess pieces off the table
- Cardinals safety, Tony Jefferson, is expected to sign with the Ravens barring any “last minute negotiating snags” reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Jefferson reportedly left more money from the Browns on the table to sign with Baltimore. Jefferson was seen as a target for the Bears as one of the best in-the-box safeties in the NFL, but it seems his prize tag may have been too much of a detractor without any further knowledge.
- Another hit to Arizona’s core, stalwart Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is apparently heading to the Jaguars, reports Russini. Various sources note Jacksonville is rewarding Campbell with $14 million per season, which seems a little lofty for a 30-year-old defensive player.
- The defending champion Patriots acquired tight end Dwayne Allen from the Colts for a fourth round pick, according to Schefter. Allen’s new destination comes on the heels of Indianapolis rewarding Jack Doyle with a three-year $21 million dollar deal on the first day of negotiating. Allen playing in New England likely spells the end of Martellus Bennett’s tenure there, who made sure to commemorate the occasion with dancing.
- In a service to Tony Romo, Dallas is expected to release the 37-year-old star quarterback on Thursday, per ESPN’s Cowboys reporter, Todd Archer. That will allow ready-made teams such as the Broncos and Texans prepared to out bid each other for the prolific passer immediately. Whomever should land him will immediately become a contender for the AFC given the talent of both rosters.
- There’s also a fairly late development of a tease in a safety the Bears reportedly have interest per Leming.
- Packers all-trade safety, Micah Hyde, is apparently “aggressively pursuing other options” away from Green Bay, according to Rapoport. Two teams have strong interest and one of them could perhaps be the Bears who have acclaim of his regular Swiss-Army Knife role.
By the early afternoon on Thursday, we’ll know just where the Bears and Pace stand on all of these free agent fronts and where the other dominoes have fallen overall. This may not be the time to step away from this process lightly. So strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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.