The Chicago Bears free agents list is extensive. At present no team has fewer players under contract than Chicago. This is a product of GM Ryan Pace. His penchant for overturning the roster and signing players to one-year deals means changes have come quite often. He’s clearly a man who doesn’t want to tie his team down to players he hasn’t drafted or haven’t earned their place. A sound strategy, but one that makes continuity difficult.
Then again that’s the nature of the NFL these days. Either way, Pace must work to figure out which of the several in-house names he wishes to keep in a Bears uniform before all hit the open market on March 14th when free agency officially opens. There are plenty of names to monitor. The biggest is cornerback Kyle Fuller. Chicago recently placed the transition tag on him. This means barring a huge offer from another team that the Bears refuse to match, he’ll stay in town at least for one more year.
Then there are other key names. Cameron Meredith, who was their best receiver in 2016, is a restricted free agent and should be brought back. Inside linebacker Christian Jones had a career year after elevating to the starter when Jerrell Freeman got injured. When the season ended it also looked like receiver Kendall Wright and cornerback Prince Amukamara were favorites to return.
Now? Not so much.
Wright and Amukamara no longer high on Bears free agents list
The arrival of head coach Matt Nagy and the strength of the 2018 free agent class seem to have hampered their future plans. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is getting the sense that while both still could return, the odds are no longer in their favor given new circumstances.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that either one could return, but I imagine the Bears are prioritizing other players at those positions right now. If Matt Nagy wants the team to pursue Albert Wilson of the Chiefs as a slot receiver, that could make it less likely Wright returns. The Bears are working to sign Kyle Fuller to a multiyear contract, and it will be interesting to see what they do at the other cornerback spot. Bringing back Amukamara might make sense, but it’s possible the Bears pursue a cornerback high in the draft.”
Indeed Wilson is basically a carbon copy of Wright. In fact, he may be a bit faster. Given his connection to Nagy from Kansas City, he holds a decisive edge. As for Amukamara, there’s something important to remember. Though his coverage was solid most of last year, he didn’t record a single interception and is also 29-years old this June. Given the wealth of corner talent expected to be available next week, keeping him is not a must.
One thing is for certain, from what I’ve been told by sources the Bears are expected to be more aggressive this year than any time before under Pace.
“Bears are ‘salivating’ over the possibilities in free agency. Nagy and Pace are ‘anxious and excited.”
People best get ready. It’s going to get crazy.