While it wasn’t as splashy of an offseason for the Chicago Bears that we’ve grown accustomed to under general manager Ryan Pace — with no big money free agents or first or second round draft picks — it was still a productive one. The Bears did lose a few starters, but they plugged those holes back up with some veterans, plus addressed those positions in the draft as well. They also had a highly regarded group of undrafted free agents come in that could help build up the depth of the team.
All in all, nothing happened that could negatively impact their chances to repeat as NFC North champs, and that’s the prevailing sentiment from Vegas as well, because they’re still the odds on favorite to take the division.
SB Nation’s Christian D’Andrea recently wrote up his ‘One under-the-radar move to love from each NFL team this offseason.’ and his takeaway from the Bears is as follows.
Signed S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (one year, $3 million)
Clinton-Dix’s star has faded considerably, but he’s still the player who once held the Packers’ unraveling secondary together like a stretched piece of duct tape. He’ll have the chance to replace Adrian Amos’ box safety production at a fraction of the cost.
Clinton-Dix was a Pro Bowl performer in 2016 when he was a member of a good Packers team that went 10-6 and played in the NFC Championship game. Is it a coincidence that as Green Bay declined the two years following that season, so did Clinton-Dix’s overall play?
He’s still only 26-years old, and I think he’s about to have a bounce-back year playing next to a couple All-Pros in the Bears’ secondary, not to mention Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack up front. This is the most talent he will have ever played with and if all he does is replace Amos’ production, the Bears will be more than happy with that.
But I think he’ll make more plays.
Clinton-Dix has 14 interceptions and 28 passes defended in his five years as a pro. He’s also averaged 91 tackles per season. Amos had 3 interceptions in his 4 years in Chicago, as well as 18 passes defended, and he averaged 67 tackles per year. I know stats don’t tell the whole story, but the tape also shows that Ha Ha is a player that seems to be around the ball more than Amos. I think he’ll be motivated to make the most of his opportunity and cash in with a big payday after his one year in Chicago.
There are a couple other under-the-radar moves I wanted to spotlight, the first being Chuck Pagano taking over as defensive coordinator from Vic Fangio. The defensive players loved playing for Vic, so there will be a period of adjustment, but Pagano is another old-school coach that was beloved by his players.
Pagano also has experience in taking over a good defense and making them even better. Chicago’s D is loaded with talent, so I expect them to stay near the top of the rankings in 2019.
There’s another under-the-radar move that hasn’t been made official yet, but there have been plenty of rumors that the Bears could be moving Cody Whitehair to left guard, with James Daniels moving over to the center position. If Daniels has the mental side of the NFL game down, to go along with increased physical development after a year in the strength and conditioning program, he could be a dominant force in the middle of the Bears o-line.
But that’s not to say that Whitehair, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl, isn’t capable of dominating in his own right. I think a move to guard will allow Whitehair’s physicality to go to another level. He’s always been a technically sound player, but sliding over to guard will allow him to focus on just mauling people.
What under-the-radar offseason move did the Bears make that has you excited?