The Chicago Bears have done some tinkering with their coaching staff this offseason. Most of it on the defensive side of the ball. Sean Desai was promoted to defensive coordinator. He filled out his staff with a number of new assistants like Chris Rumph (DL), Bill McGovern (ILBs), and Mike Adams (S). Probably the most interesting name though was Mike Pettine, arriving as a senior assistant.

Pettine just finished a three-season stint as defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. During that time he took a unit that was 26th in points allowed in 2017 and had them ranked 9th by 2019. Last season was their all-around best year as a defense since 2010. Yet that didn’t seem to satisfy Green Bay after an unfortunate second-straight loss in the NFC championship. Pettine was fired in favor of new arrival Joe Barry.

Not that the Bears are complaining.

They viewed him as somebody who could be a major asset to their team. Not just as a sounding board for Desai either. GM Ryan Pace explained on Bears All-Access that the Bears are already discovering another ability Pettine has. A knack for scouting potential talent in free agency. His reports have impressed the people at Halas Hall. This provides confidence they made the right decision.

It might sound like a stretch. What possible value could Pettine have in the grand scheme when it comes to free agency? More than you might realize. All one would have to do is go back and look at what he’s done in the past. His eye for talent is actually pretty good.

Don’t underestimate the Mike Pettine free agency eye

He has quite a track record when it comes to scouting players who could be big contributors on defense. In 2014, the Cleveland Browns signed safety Donte Whitner and he ended up going to the Pro Bowl. His best work didn’t come until 2019. That Packers free agent class may go down as the best in franchise history.

  • Adrian Amos
  • Preston Smith
  • Za’Darius Smith

Amos has 167 tackles, three sacks, and four interceptions since arriving that year. Preston Smith racked up 16 sacks and Za’Darius Smith added another 26 while making back-to-back Pro Bowls. That trio was integral to the defensive turnaround Green Bay experienced. This isn’t counting names like Christian Kirksey and Damon Harrison who also made solid contributions last year. Mike Pettine recognizes talent.

This can be huge for the Bears. Especially this offseason.

Pace said expectations are an abnormal amount of veteran players will hit the market this year. A byproduct of a massive drop in the salary cap due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This offers a huge opportunity to score some talented players at bargain prices. Having good scouting reports available could be a major benefit to a team strapped for cash like the Bears. This makes the hiring of Pettine look that much more valuable.

To say nothing of what he can do for the defense itself. His experience alone could do wonders for Desai. Not to mention his deep knowledge of the Packers as an organization.