There’s only one big story-line centering on the Chicago Bears as the NFL ramps up for Free Agency on March 13. Will they re-sign safety Adriam Amos and nickleback Bryce Callahan? Speculation has gone from an ‘either/or’ scenario, to a ‘bring both back’ scenario, to a ‘let both walk for a comp pick’ scenario, and at this point we’ve covered the situation from all angles at WCG.
So now that our takes are on record, let’s check out a couple predictions from two NFL experts who both have the Bears saying goodbye to Amos. .
First up is The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia who predicted where their Top 50 free agents would end up, and he has Amos joining a familiar face with the Denver Broncos.
Amos was a perfect fit in Vic Fangio’s pattern-matching coverage schemes last year with the Bears. Chicago should try to bring Amos back, but if they’re unable to do so, he can rejoin Fangio, now in Denver, and plug a hole for an already talented defense.
Amos to Denver has been a hot rumor for a while now, but some in Denver believe that Amos is just using the Broncos as leverage to boost his price tag. But with the safety market so saturated that may not materialize.
Next up is Pro Football Focus who gave their take in an ESPN Insider article titled, The one free agent every NFL team must sign in 2019.
The Texans are likely to let Tyrann Mathieu walk, and who better to sign than the league’s eighth-highest-graded safety from a season ago? Amos was a revelation for the Bears, finishing with the league’s No. 8 grade in coverage at safety while adding a much-needed presence in run defense. His 17 defensive stops ranked in the top 30, and his solid tackling also saw him finish among the top half of safeties last season.
Mathieu and Amos are much different players, so this seems like an odd swap. But considering how highly PFF thinks of Amos’ coverage skills I understand this prediction.
While fishing around those two articles I did come across their guesses on Bryce Callahan too, and Kapadia thinks he returns to the Bears, but their reasoning is weird.
If they have to choose between Amos and Callahan, they should keep Amos. But the guess here is that Amos is more likely to find a big contract on the open market. Re-signing Callahan as their nickel would allow the Bears to retain 10 of 11 starters (if we count nickel as base personnel) from their top-ranked defense of 2018.
The Athletic is the only publication I’ve seen that gives the nod to Amos in an either/or scenario and I don’t get it. While I do think he’s a good football player, there seems to be more options out there to replace Amos’ production. Perhaps he’s factoring in Callahan’s injury history.
PFF has the Washington Redskins signing Callahan.
Callahan is one of the league’s top cornerbacks in the slot, a position increasing in value in today’s NFL. Overall, he finished as the 11th-highest-graded cornerback last season, giving up no reception longer than 29 yards and limiting quarterbacks to an 80.5 passer rating when targeted. The Redskins have not gotten what they hoped for out of the Josh Norman signing and saw rookie CB Greg Stroman finish as the team’s highest-graded cornerback. Still, each Redskins cornerback allowed a passer rating of at least 105.8, and both Fabian Moreau and Stroman struggled in slot coverage, where Callahan shines. Callahan also chipped in with a ridiculous 13 pressures on only 24 blitzes a year ago for the Bears.
All those reasons listed above is why I think the Bears are making him a priority. A team like Washington could swoop in and severely overpay, in which case I could see the Bears moving on.
And speaking of moving on, PFF did give a prediction for whom the Bears could sign.
CB Steven Nelson
2018 team: Chiefs | Age: 26
With both Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos set to hit free agency, the Bears could very well need to bolster a secondary that developed into one of the best playmaking units in the NFL last year. Nelson turned into a playmaker himself in 2018, logging 10 pass breakups and four interceptions while allowing a catch rate of only 53.1 percent in his coverage.
Nelson is a good player, but he’s likely to get a bigger pay day than Callahan. The Bears have to keep in mid the contract they’ll be handing Eddie Jackson once he’s eligible for an extension and signing Nelson to huge money may not be in their long term plans.
I still think the Bears would like them both back, and once they both test the market a little bit, the Bears will determine how to spend their cap space. My guess is Callahan stays with Amos leaving.