How to Fix the Bears (March Updated)
1) QB - I earlier wrote that Jimmy G. had to be their primary target, but not for the Patriot's asking price. Still, the Bears won't go anywhere without a change at the helm.
1a) Secondary - It's been atrocious for some time now. It's would be the biggest need had it not been for the importance of the QB in today's game.
3) Tackles - This is especially important with a change at QB. Leno was serviceable, but Massie needs to be replaced.
4) Run-stuffing DL. I feel good about our pash-rush, but the front 7 hasn't been able to stop the run.
5) Pass-catchers - either tight end depth or WR depth.
Free Agents (Not including recent future contracts):
S. Acho, M. Adams, M. Barkley, C. Barth, J. Banks, N. Beckon, J. Bellamy, B. Boykin, D. Brown, B. Callahan, D. Fales, B. Hoyer, D. Hurst, A. Jeffery, C. Jones, E. Kush, T. Larson, L. Paulson, C. Prosinski, M. McCants, P. Scales, C. Shaw, D. Thompsen, C. Washington, M. Wilson, C.J. Wilson.
Free Agents already resigned (with cap hits per Spotrac):
Connor Shaw - terms unknown (probably about .8M)
Patrick Scales - terms unknown (probably about .8M)
Eric Kush - 1.3M
Bryce Callahan - .6M
Josh Bellamy - .9M
Daniel Brown - .6M
Cap space to work with (per Sportrac, as of 3/8, less contracts for C. Shaw and P. Scales) 48.8M
Players to be Cut
QB Jay Cutler - Simply not the answer (+14M)
DE/OLB Lamaar Houston - If he could stay healthy... eh, still not a great signing (+5M)
RT Bobbie Massie - Decent in the run, piss-poor pass blocking (+5M)
WR Eddie Royal - 4th or 5th receivers who can't stay healthy aren't worth 5M (+5M)
New Cap Space - 77.8M
Free Agents to be resigned:
Alshon Jeffery- If we let him walk, our 5th priority becomes much larger. 4 years, 56M, 28M guaranteed (-14M). Update: I know he's a free agent, but there's always hope.
Mike Adams - There aren't many good options at tackle, so Adams provides flexibility. 2 years, 3M (-1.5M)
Christian Jones - decent depth piece. 1 year, 1M (-1M)
Johnathon Banks - I liked this signing. Perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs. 2 years, 3M (-1.5M)
Any 2 other guys for depth - Total Cap hit -1.5M
Remaining Cap Space - 58.3M
Significant Free Agents to be singed
QB - Mike Glennon - I'm not too excited about him either, but I'm not giving up 2 firsts for Jimmy G, nor do I think a QB from the draft is ready to step in for the first couple of years. That said, I would limit the commitment to Glennon. The good news is that it doesn't seem like there's much competition for his services. I do think Glennon is a better option than Romo or Tyrod Taylor at this point in their careers. - 3 years, 39M, 13M guaranteed - (-13M)
Eric Berry would have been nice, but he resigned with KC, but fortunately there are other options for the secondary:
CB - Stephen Gilmore: 4 years,46M 20M guaranteed. I'd rather Logan Ryan or AJ Bouye, but they're going to be more expensive (-11.5M)
S - Tony Jefferson - A good young safety: 4 years, 38M (15M guaranteed) - (-9.5M)
K - Anyone but Barth - 1M Cap hit
T - Ricky Wagner - The bears have cap room, so they might as well spend it on the o-line. With a solid interior and a capable RT, the bears could have an extra blocker help Leno from time to time and provide a good pocket with 4 pass catchers in routes - 5 years - 45M, 22.5M guaranteed (-9M) Update: the Lions are reportedly signing him. The backup plan should be Okung or Beachum, but those guys are big in
Remaining Cap Space - 14.3M
R1 - DL Jonathan Allen - Best player available, and fixes Priority 4. Est. Cap Hit -5.1M
R1 - (Trade probably required from early 2nd to the late 1st round) - QB Pat Maholmes/Deshawn Watson - It's predict to see what's available, but if someone slips to the end of the first round, bring him in. The Bears would trade the extra fourth, a sixth, and perhaps a late round pick next year for the move. This allows Glennon to be a bridge, instead of trusting him with the future of the franchise just yet. - Est. Cap Hit -1.6M
R3 - WR DeDe Westbrook or TE Jordan Leggett. Est. Cap Hit -0.7M
R4 - OT Roderick Johnson available Est. Cap Hit -0.6M
R5 - Best Player Available Est. Cap Hit -0.6M
R7 - Best Player Available. Est. Cap Hit - 0.5M
(Unlike the rest of this essay, I'm not even going to pretend that I can predict quality players in Rounds 5-7).
Remaining Cap Space - about 5M. The bears could get a bit more flexibility by restructuring Tracy Porter's contract. That should bring them into compliance if the numbers don't perfectly add up.
The QB Situation: without a can't miss option, the best way to solve the QB problem is to give yourself multiple chances at success. Mitch (or Mitchell, whatever) is not ready to step in on day 1, so why not draft someone with better intangibles for year 2 or 3? As for Glennon, he's the only bridge option with the upside to be a franchise passer, even though it's by no means a guarantee. If they don't guarantee much in years 2 or 3, it's a win-win.