The Chicago Bears have several needs going into this offseason. Their resource management will be crucial. GM Ryan Poles isn’t really in a good position to do heavy spending in free agency but may still have to be somewhat aggressive. The price of only having five picks in the upcoming draft. This doesn’t allow for excuses, though. Like every other GM, Poles understands it’s his responsibility to get the best players possible.
Free agency can be a minefield if a team isn’t careful. The worst thing you can do is throw money at players in a panic because you couldn’t land certain names you wanted. There are best and worst-case scenarios going into this market as well. It isn’t clear where the Bears might focus their limited cap flexibility, so here is an outlook of such options at their top three positions of need.
Chris Godwin already has six catches for 58 yards in the first quarter 🔥 #GoBucs
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2021
Chicago Bears can’t fall into classic traps during free agency
Best-case wide receiver: Chris Godwin
The knee injury he suffered last season was brutal timing. Everybody knew Godwin would get big money once he hit free agency this offseason. Now it is likely he’ll have two choices. Take less per year or gamble on a one-year deal to hopefully rebuild his stock. Either way, this is a risk the Bears should take. Godwin is the second-best free agent receiver on the market behind Davante Adams in terms of talent. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2019 and craked 1,000 yards in two of the past three seasons. The guy is a #1 receiver on most other teams. Such is the price of playing across from Mike Evans.
Worst-case wide receiver: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Poles declared that speed would be the focus for the Bears moving forward. He also said they would be selective in free agency. That could be a fancy word for cheap. Unfortunately, Valdes-Scantling checks both boxes. He is one of the better vertical threats in the league but likely will command modest money. There is a reason for this. Valdes-Scantling has unreliable hands. Since 2018, he has had 15 dropped passes. He caught just 47.3% of the passes thrown his way last year. If he is the big get at wide receiver for Chicago next month, something went wrong.
Best-case offensive line: Bradley Bozeman
Few teams are better at cultivating offensive linemen in the NFL than the Baltimore Ravens. Bozeman is just the latest example. The young center is a big part of their offensive success. Not only did he plow open running lanes, but he also allowed just 21 pressures in over 700 pass-blocking snaps. It feels like his best years are ahead of him. The market will be strong for his services, so it could get expensive. Still, having somebody who knows how to block for a mobile quarterback like Bozeman would significantly benefit Justin Fields.
Worst-case offensive line: Eric Fisher
Poles has said that he values the tackle positions above any other regarding the offensive line. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if he prioritized those spots in his upcoming retool. Some interesting options are available, but Fisher should not be the first choice. Yes, he is a former Pro Bowler. One the Bears GM knows well from their time together in Kansas City. The problem is he’s not that player anymore. Fisher is 31-years old and finished last season, allowing 41 pressures and seven sacks with the Colts. Unless he is prepared to take a deep discount, this is not the solution the Bears need.
Dak connects with Charvarius Ward in the end zone 👀
— PFF (@PFF) November 21, 2021
Best-case cornerback: Charvarius Ward
The biggest key to free agency is landing players on the younger side that might be on the cusp of playing their best football. Not guys who’ve already done that or guys past their primes. Ward is a perfect example of the former. His 2021 season with the Chiefs ended with two interceptions, ten passes defended, and a 79.4 passer rating when targeted in coverage. He isn’t a true star cornerback, but he would make a perfect #2 guy across from Jaylon Johnson. The problem is odds remain strong that another team will pay him #1 cornerback money. If it doesn’t happen, the Chicago Bears need to be on the phone.
Worst-case cornerback: Xavier Rhodes
Connections are often exploited in free agency, especially between players and coaches. It would be easy to think Matt Eberflus might be interested in a reunion with Rhodes after their two years together in Indianapolis. Somebody needs to slap some sense into him. Rhodes turns 32-years old in June. He is coming off a rather average year with the Colts where he had just one interception and seven passes defended. The Bears defense is already getting a bit old in other areas. Rhodes isn’t going to solve their issues in coverage like he might’ve been able to three or four years ago.