There have been rumors flying around for weeks, but the NFL's actual negotiation window doesn't open up until Monday at 11:00 a.m. Central, and that will go on until teams can officially announce their free agent signings at 3:00 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday. The Chicago Bears have been front and center of many rumors, and now with the trade for D.J. Moore — their new number-one wide receiver — their free agency plans are coming into focus.
There was plenty of Mecole Hardman smoke around Chicago, but that's likely gone. As is whatever dot-connection was taking place with Allen Lazard, so here are my predictions for the first four moves for the Bears in free agency.
Linebacker Bobby Okereke
Momentum linking Okereke to the Bears has been growing since the Super Bowl when Bill interviewed him for our Bears Banter podcast. He's played both the Mike and the Will, and he's coming off his best season ever with 151 tackles.
Is this what I would do? - While I understand the fit and the need for a linebacker, I think the price may be really high, and I'd rather spend elsewhere. But it all depends on how high the deal ends up being.
Right tackle Kaleb McGary
There seems to be more buzz around Mike McGlinchey to Chicago, but McGlinchey has been linked to several tackle-needy teams, so McGary could be their fallback option. He's also coming off a career-best season, and he was among the best run blocking RTs in the game.
Is this what I would do? - Neither McGary nor McGlinchey excite me, and while Jacksonville's Jawann Taylor wouldn’t be an exciting signing either, he is a better pass blocker, and the NFL, whether we like it or not, is a passing league. I'd target Taylor because he'd be able to keep defenders off Justin Fields better than the other two.
Also, keep an eye on Kansas City's Andrew Wylie, who Ryan Poles knows well from his time in KC, and would come on a cheaper and shorter deal if the other three sign elsewhere.
Defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones
Washington's Daron Payne just became the second highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history on a four-year, $90 million deal, with $60 million guaranteed, so expect similar paper to lure Jones off the market. The Bears need a three-technique defensive tackle for the defense to function correctly, so expect them to pay a ton for one.
Is this what I would do? - I worry about paying a player at the top of the market when he's never really played the three-tech DT spot before. Denver played him up and down the line in their 30 front, but he does have the skillset to fit the Bears' needs.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
I know some have soured on former Colts because the couple that Chicago signed last season didn't work out, but Ngakoue isn't Al-Quadin Muhammad, nor does he have a history with Chicago's coaching staff. Last year was his first in Indianapolis, and he had 9.5 sacks, which brought his seven year total to 65.
Is this what I would do? - Yep, the Bears need pass rushers, and Ngakoue is one of the more established edge players in the market.
K.C.'s Frank Clark is another veteran edge the Bears could pursue because this team needs so much help on the d-line.
What are the first four moves you expect the Bears to make in free agency?