We’re a little more than a week away from NFL free agency and the rumors will start to pick up stream as we creep closer to the early negotiating period (do not be an oxymoron and call it legal tampering) on March 16.
With the way player agents and teams conducted themselves at the NFL Combine we’ve already had several rumors and reports about the Chicago Bears. Some seem logical while others just smell like a smoke screen, which can really be said for all the buzz that has been popping up about the NFL since the season ended.
Nothing in free agency can be official until March 18 at 3:00 pm Central time, so we asked a few of our staffers here at Windy City Gridiron to give us the one (non Chicago) free agent they want the Bears to sign.
I’ll give my pick after we go around the table.
Ken Mitchell - Teddy Bridgewater, QB - Keep Mitch as #2 for this season and roll. We are close to having a championship team, so let’s get this done.
Robert Zeglinski - Teddy Bridgewater, QB - Nothing else the Bears do matters if they don’t finally find a viable quarterback. What does signing someone like Austin Hooper matter if a third of his targets are airmailed? In my opinion, Bridgewater is the best available and is worth a likely lofty price tag. Pull out all the stops, then work from him.
Bill Zimmerman - Tony Jefferson, Safety - This may not be the sexiest name out there, but Jefferson could be had at an affordable rate coming off an ACL injury. He also potentially could pair with Eddie Jackson better than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix did. If Jefferson was in the mix, Jackson would be available to play further back off the line and play “centerfield” which he does so well and didn’t do nearly as much last year. Plus, Jefferson was released by Baltimore and therefore won’t figure into the comp pick formula.
Sam Householder - Austin Hooper, TE - Yes, he’s going to be expensive, yes the production hasn’t quite been where you want it to be for a player that is going to be paid into the top five at his position in the league.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Brandon Scherff, OG - He’s the type of veteran nasty presence that’s lacking at the right guard position on the line following Kyle Long’s retirement. He’ll cost a good fortune to bring in, yet he’s also the best answer to a major hole on offense.
Patti Curl: Mario Addison, EDGE - I have a feeling he’s going to be the best value at edge this off-season. He’s a little long in the fang and generally underrated. When I last had free access to pressures and hits data, his SAQ score showed elite per-snap production over the past four years. That’s partly because he’s an outlier in his ability to convert pressures to sacks. He doesn’t win as often as other rushers, but he makes it count when he does. Sounds like a guy who could take advantage of the extra holes opened up by playing opposite a future Hall of Famer.
Robert Schmitz - Graham Glasgow, OG - In an offseason where the Bears are fairly cash-strapped, they need to do the impossible and sign value deals in Free Agency. Glasgow is a good-but-not-elite guard who’s undervalued by his current team (the Lions) and would provide the Bears a major upgrade at a need position for an affordable price. Slam dunk.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. - Darren Fells, TE - A soon to be 34-year old Y tight end is not the splashiest of signings, but Fells (6’7”, 281) is coming off a career best 34 receptions, 341 yards, and 7 touchdowns for the Texans, but more importantly he’d be the best blocking tight end the Bears have had in over a decade. He won’t be nearly as costly as Austin Hooper or Eric Ebron, which will allow the Bears to spend a bit more at right guard, and upgrades at the Y and right guard will help the running game. (UPDATE: Fells re-signed with the Texans and he received a nice raise from his previous salary with a 2-year, $7 million deal.)
Who’s your guy you really want the Bears to sign?