Technically speaking, NFL free agency doesn’t get started until today at 3:00 p.m. (Central), but thanks to the early negotiating window, we’ve had deals leaked and announced since Monday. The Chicago Bears haven’t had the same kind of impact as a year ago, but so far they have added three players that are sure to be a big part of their 2019 season.
Offensively, Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson are going to add a different dimension to Matt Nagy’s offense.
If you follow the money, Davis will likely slide into the number one tailback role unless another back is added in free agency. Even if Jordan Howard does stay on the team, Davis’ ability to do more damage in the passing game will likely get him the starting job. I still think Howard is being shopped, so the Bears will be looking to add another running back or two at some point. Barring a Tevin Coleman addition, the depth chart should look like this; Davis, Tarik Cohen, with a rookie and a reasonably priced veteran rounding out the running back room.
Also, don’t discount Patterson’s ability to line up in the backfield. Check out where he lined up last year in New England.
Cordarrelle Patterson's offensive snaps by alignment in 2018— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) March 13, 2019
Wide Receiver: 52.9%
Slot Receiver: 26.2%
Tight end: 3.0%#Bears
Patterson will play everywhere in the offense plus return kicks, so he’ll likely knock Taquan Mizzell off the roster (h/t Jonathan Wood). His do-it-all offensive role is similar to Cohen, which will give Nagy a bunch of fun formation options.
Patterson will get starters reps on occasion as a receiver, but from a depth chart perspective, he’ll be behind Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller. Last year’s number four wide out, Josh Bellamy, played about 30% of the offensive snaps, but Patterson could get more due to his ability to play in the backfield.
On defense, the Bears are bringing in Buster Skrine to be their primary nickleback — taking over for the soon to be departed Bryce Callahan — but he has also played some outside corner in the past. The Jets blitzed Skrine off the edge on occasion, so Bears’ defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will be able to get creative with him as well.
I think Skrine is a step down from Callahan, but Callahan’s injury history had to play a part in the move. Skrine has only missed five games in his eight year career, although those five have come in the last three seasons.
What are your thoughts on how these three new players will fit in with Chicago?
This is just the first wave of signings, but these three didn’t do much to move the odds in Vegas as evidenced by this tweet.
Top odds to win the Super Bowl at @superbookusa:— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 13, 2019
Chiefs & Pats — 6/1
Saints & Rams — 8/1
Browns & Packers — 14/1