WCG staff likes to kick around group discussion ideas on our daily email threads. Sometimes those morph into posts. This is one of those times.
We decided to discuss the Bears’ free agents to-be. The team has some big decisions to make when it comes to nickel back Bryce Callahan and safety Adrian Amos.
Bobby Massie was re-signed over the weekend but we started this discussion prior to that, so keep in mind that some of us weighed in on his resigning and some didn’t.
1) Can Chicago afford to move on from Adrian Amos or Bryce Callahan?
Erik: Theoretically, yes. Both players are solid, but not irreplaceable; upgrades can be found for each of these players if they decide to move forward in a different direction.
With that being said, replacing any of these players can be somewhat challenging provided the minimal resources available for the Bears’ front office. Losing both would complicate matters even further. Improvement might have to come from within for any of these players, provided they’re not being brought back.
For example, Deon Bush could slide in at Strong Safety and be a valuable player when paired with Eddie Jackson and Sherrick McManis filled in admirably for Bryce Callahan after the later was lost to injury.
It’s always a gamble when you move on from proven and solid veterans. Depending on what the Bears’ plan in free agency turns into -- they’re going to be highly aggressive from what I can gather -- it seems unlikely that both players return. They will have to get creative when free agency starts this offseason.
Sam: Yes, I think they can afford to move on but it really comes down to if they want to.
I think that if the price is right, Amos would definitely be welcomed back with open arms. I think they like how solid he is, even if he isn’t a playmaker like Eddie Jackson. To me, he’s Prince Amukamara to Kyle Fuller. Fuller gets the picks and takes on the tougher match ups but Amos is just there, which is actually a compliment. He’s rarely out of position and he’s a sure tackler. That’s important.
I think that he will get to free agency and will only be back if other teams aren’t willing to pay big money or he decides he’d really like to be back and is willing take a little less money.
Callahan has turned out to be a very good player in his own right. Going from undrafted player to key component, it’s been quite a rise for Callahan. Yes, he has durability concerns but with as much as nickel packages are in place, it’s important to have a very good third cornerback.
Amos: On the one hand, Adrian Amos is the one player of the two it would hurt us least to lose. He’s a league-average strong safety, but strong safety is the least important position on a defense and we do have a couple of guys who can play there on cheaper deals.
On the other hand, there’s a huge pool of SS talent out there, so Amos is most likely going to be very disappointed in the offers he gets... I think we keep him on a team-friendly deal, but if somebody has to go, Amos is the guy. Good guy though, I would love to see him back.
Callahan: I’d like to have Callahan back, but I think he’s going to get a stupid-high offer from somebody and we are going to lose him. I hope I’m wrong, but corners are hard to find and Callahan, when healthy, is a guy who can flat out play ball.
If we can get him back on a deal we can manage, I’m happy. I just don’t think it will happen, I can see some CB desperate team (like the Lions, for example) make a stupid offer on him.
Lester: Can they afford to move on? Yes. Should they move on? No.
If I’m making the call, I’m trying my damnedest to keep both of these players. Each are starters and I think they’re all above average players.
If the biggest knock on Amos is that he simply does his job, then I’d take a bunch of guys like that on my team every day. He’s not the playmaker that Eddie Jackson is, but he’s a good football player that adds a physical presence to the secondary. Since the league values turnovers from the safety position, Amos may not have a lot of teams lining up for his services, and that could play into the Bears favor if they want him back. I think his best football may be ahead of him.
Callahan’s injury history is problematic, but when on the field he’s a damn good nickleback. I think the fact that he’s never played a full season and has missed 19 games in 4 years will keep his price down a bit. Unless another team offers him starting corner money (CB1/CB2), I think the Bears bring him back.
2) Which of the players should be the number one priority to re-sign and why?
Erik: Most people will likely say Bryce Callahan, as he was an absolute stud while playing at the extra DB in nickel package on defense. And, originally, I was going to select Adrian Amos. He’s a rock solid safety in the box who’s tackling and physicality fits well with the new concepts Chuck Pagano is likely to install on defense.
After further considerations, I am instead going with Bobby Massie. For people saying “wtf” or “WHAT” or what have you, realize this: Massie isn’t nearly as bad of a RT that PFF and other people/sites have suggested. He improved as a pass protector this year, to go with being a strong road grader for runs off-tackle. Continuity is also an important factor for any O-Line when looking for improvement.
The biggest factor, for me, is the Bears will be altering aspects on defense. Where Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan both played well under Vic Fangio, that is not guaranteed to happen when transitioning to Pagano’s coverage concepts in the secondary. That is, after all, Pagano’s forte. The depth of players available at DB is deeper in free agency than O-Line by a considerable margin IMHO. Plus, the overall value of the safety market was watered down substantially last year, and I believe Amos could be brought back on a relatively team-friendly deal. Callahan might be trickier to sign, mostly because of his injury history. He may be a candidate for a 1-year “prove it” deal this off season.
Massie, on the other hand, is better than most OTs expected to be available in free agency. I’m also not too confident in this year’s stock in the upcoming draft. The only “upgrade” I see in either case would be LaAdrian Waddle of the Patriots, and I don’t see a scenario which includes him leaving the Patriots. Massie will have suitors available if the Bears elect not to bring him back. Yet, Massie has already expressed interest in returning to Chicago, for what it’s worth.
Sam: I’d say Callahan, Massie, Amos.
Obviously, we know now that Massie is back, which is nice, but now I think the priority should be finding a number that is acceptable to both sides for Callahan and the Bears.
Ken: As far as the priority order, I’d put it Callahan (if the offer isn’t stupid-high), Massie then Amos last.
Bonus player: Who really might be the key player for us to keep this offseason? Joshua Bellamy. I kid you not. I think Bellamy is one of those “glue guys” who makes the whole team better both on and off the field. I’d like to see Ryan Pace give him a two-year deal this time.
Les: Here’s how I rank the priority in re-signing them; Callahan, Massie, and Amos. It’s a passing league, and since nickle is the new base defense, the Bears need three solid corners. The Bears are only in their base 3-4 defense about 30% of the time, and since they have a nickle they trust, keeping him is a must.
3) Bonus: Now that Massie has been re-signed, what do you think of the deal?
Erik: I had Massie as my top priority prior to the signing. Guess my voodoo magic worked!
It’s a smart move by Ryan Pace. Never did I expect an extension this soon after the season’s conclusion for the Bears. It not only keeps the starting five O-Linemen together for at least another season, but now Ryan Pace can focus on re-signing players like Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan, if he so chooses.
Massie was also one of the top OTs projected on the FA market. There just aren’t many upgrades available to begin with, and Bobby has steadily improved each of the past three seasons. Continuity is the best way to improve a line, and the Bears will have that going for them for quite a while.
Sam: It was a smart move. Obviously, keeping continuity on the offensive line is an important thing because those guys have to so often work together. This group has been able to gel and work together so it’s always nice to keep the band together.
Massie is better than he’s given credit for and has gotten better over his time with the Bears. Solid re-signing.
Les: Without seeing the numbers, I think it’s a good deal. Odds are high Pace will give the team an out after two years, so they get a key performer back to keep the continuity on the offense, and he’s a good locker room presence too. I’ve talked about Massie’s skills the last couple years so I see the value he adds to the offense.
Ken: Coming into this offseason, I believed that the Bears absolutely should sign Bobbie Massie. We are a Super Bowl caliber team right now so we need a strong offensive line. At this point in time, Massie is a slightly above average right tackle, and his loss would have been be huge. Signing Massie also allows us to keep and develop Coward as depth, something else we desperately need to have. Bobbie wanted to stay (he’s made that clear in interviews), he’s respected in the clubhouse, a high-character, hard working player. I’m glad we signed him.
What do you think? Who should get next priority? Were you happy they re-signed Massie?