With salary cap issues to sort through, one shouldn’t expect the Chicago Bears to be aggressive on the veteran market this year. Then again people said the same thing last season. Then GM Ryan Pace grabbed Robert Quinn on a massive contract. The point is a team can always find enough wiggle room to make one sizable move if they wish.
That is why one shouldn’t count the Bears out this month. There may be one or two players out there who they have eyes for. It could be at any position. However, as with any style of asset acquisition, there are certain products one should steer clear of. In this case, players who may look like a worthwhile venture but ultimately will only end up being disappointments.
Here are seven names that fit the criteria and why.
Chicago Bears may have free agent moves in mind. Not these, please
Jameis Winston (QB)
It’s already out there. A rogue sect of Bears fans is already talking themselves into it. They can’t help but look at the fact that Winston threw for over 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019. He knows how to make big plays. Put him in Chicago. He’s bound to have learned some good things from Drew Brees and Sean Payton, right?
No. People need to understand this. Winston threw 30 interceptions that year too. There is no minimizing a stat like that. It doesn’t come from bad luck or questionable eyesight. It comes from routinely making terrible decisions with the football. Quarterbacks who do that never lose that side of themselves. Brett Favre didn’t. Eli Manning didn’t. Jay Cutler didn’t. Winston won’t either. There is a reason he never made the playoffs in Tampa Bay. That reason was him.
Le’Veon Bell (RB)
The worst thing a team can do in free agency is chasing a big name that isn’t deserving of that big name anymore. It happens way more than teams are willing to admit. Especially at the running back position. Le’Veon Bell was arguably the best in the business at one point in time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That player though is long gone.
Since returning from his extended holdout in 2019, he hasn’t been the same person, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and being relegated to a backup role in Kansas City this past year. He just turned 29-years old, so age is working against him too. To top it off, his patient running style wouldn’t be a great fit in Chicago’s offense anyway.
Will Fuller (WR)
Ryan Pace himself said that the best ability in the NFL is availability. That has not been the strong suit of Fuller since he entered the league. In five seasons to date, he’s never played a full 16-game season. He missed five weeks last year alone. If that weren’t enough, he also got busted for PED violations. So it’s safe to say the guy is unreliable.
The biggest allure with Fuller is his speed. He is a genuine deep threat that defenses fear. It’s just hard to trust he’ll be on the field enough for it to matter. Somebody is going to pay him way more money than he’s worth. Money the Bears would be far better off putting towards more important positions or throwing it Allen Robinson.
Cam Robinson (OT)
Offensive tackle has gone too long without a proper shakeup. Bobby Massie is getting older and now struggling to stay healthy. Charles Leno Jr. remains as average as ever. If the Chicago Bears are going to get their offense to the next level, they need to invest in that position. They just need to make sure none of that money goes to Robinson.
In fairness, the guy isn’t a bad player. He’s big, strong, and a very good run blocker. The problem is he’s a liability in pass protection. Jacksonville managed to mask that most of the time with their run-heavy approach the past two seasons. Somebody like that isn’t worth the considerable cash he’ll command on the open market. Not unless Matt Nagy suddenly morphs into Mike Ditka.
Johnathan Hankins (DL)
Being a former 2nd round pick comes with certain perks. In addition to giving a pretty good first contract in the NFL, it also virtually guarantees you’ll keep finding work around the league even if you don’t end up being the player people envisioned. Expectations were high for Johnathan Hankins when the Giants drafted him out of Ohio State.
Despite showing early promise in 2014 with seven sacks, he never took another step. Hankins has settled himself into a journeyman role where he goes from team to team serving mostly as a big interior defender who can clog running lanes. It’s a job he does well enough but this isn’t somebody the Bears typically prefer.
Reuben Foster (ILB)
Talent was never a question with Foster. He looked like a budding star coming out of Alabama in 2017. He had speed, size, aggression, and tackling prowess. Not to mention the instinct to find and get the football. One would think at 27-years old he’d be worth a calculated risk, right? No. The guy hasn’t proven reliable on or off the field.
In 2018, he endured a series of run-ins with law enforcement for weapons and drug charges. Then he was hit again with domestic violence charges and that prompted his release from San Francisco. Shortly after he landed in Washington where he’s stayed out of trouble but is now dealing with a knee injury he’ll have missed almost three years for. He isn’t the player he was and isn’t trustworthy anyway. The Chicago Bears don’t employ guys like him.
Gareon Conley (CB)
Easily one of the most puzzling draft busts in recent memory. Coming out of Ohio State, Conley looked like a can’t-miss cornerback prospect. He was tall, athletic, fast, and had nice ball skills. With a little time, he looked like he’d further the long line of great Oakland Raiders cover cornerbacks. Yet it never seemed to materialize.
Health issues derailed him early in his rookie year and he never seemed to regain his footing after that. He was inconsistent in 2018 despite three interceptions and then was traded to Houston in 2019. After a tough run there, he again ran into health trouble with an ankle injury that ended up knocking him out for all of 2020. Despite the talent and being just 25-years old, he isn’t worth the headache.
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