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2014 NFL Offseason: Chicago Bears

Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents

Chicago Bears (Last Year: 8-8)

Season Summary:
It's ironic that after decades of great defense and inept quarterback play, the Bears would deal with a controversy involving two talented signal-callers when their stop unit completely fell apart. Josh McCown played extremely well when Jay Cutler was out of the lineup, but Marc Trestman opted to go with Cutler upon the starter's return. Chicago lost two of its final three games, but that wasn't Cutler's fault; the defense simply couldn't stop the opposition.

Offseason Moves:
  • Steelers sign P Adam Podlesh
  • Bears sign C Brian De La Puente
  • Buccaneers sign S Major Wright
  • Bears re-sign OT Eben Britton
  • Giants sign CB Zackary Bowman
  • Bears sign DE Jared Allen
  • Vikings sign DE Corey Wootton
  • Falcons sign KR Devin Hester
  • Bears re-sign CB Sherrick McManis
  • Cowboys sign DT Henry Melton
  • Bears sign S Danny McCray
  • Bears re-sign S Craig Steltz
  • Bears sign DE Israel Idonije
  • Bears cut WR Earl Bennett
  • Packers sign DE Julius Peppers
  • Bears re-sign CB Charles Tillman
  • Bears re-sign TE Dante Rosario
  • Bears sign DE Willie Young
  • Bears sign WR Domenik Hixon
  • Bears sign S M.D. Jennings
  • Buccaneers sign QB Josh McCown
  • Bears cut DE Julius Peppers
  • Bears re-sign ILB D.J. Williams
  • Bears sign S Ryan Mundy
  • Bears sign DE Lamarr Houston
  • Bears sign OLB Jordan Senn
  • Bears cut RB Michael Bush
  • Bears re-sign DT Nate Collins
  • Bears re-sign QB Jodan Palmer
  • Bears sign DE Trevor Scott
  • Bears re-sign DT Jay Ratliff
  • Bears cut P Adam Podlesh
  • Bears re-sign CB Kelvin Hayden
  • Bears cut TE Dante Rosario
  • Bears re-sign C Roberto Garza

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Safeties: Major Wright is a free agent. Chris Conte, well, I don't think Chicago fans are going to forget his ineptitude in the win-and-in season finale anytime soon. Signed Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray

    2. Defensive Tackle: Henry Melton is a free agent. He's coming off a poor season with some off-the-field incidents, so perhaps the Bears can re-sign him cheaply. If not, the 14th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft could be used on this position. Re-signed Jay Ratliff

    3. Two Cornerbacks: Chicago was able to re-sign Tim Jennings, but Charles Tillman will need to be replaced, as his contract has expired. Two corners have to be added: One as a new starter, and the second one for depth. There will be lots of options this May. Re-signed Kelvin Hayden and Charles Tillman

    4. Defensive End: Julius Peppers, coming off a disappointing 7.5-sack campaign, counts more than $18 million against the cap. It's sounding like he could be let go. If that's the case, a replacement will be needed. Signed Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, Israel Idonije and Trevor Scott

    5. Strongside Linebacker: The Bears had major issues at linebacker this past season. Lance Briggs was hurt, while Jon Bostic struggled, though he was a second-round rookie, so he can improve. The team's greatest liability was at the strongside position with James Anderson.

    6. Center: Roberto Garza is a 35-year-old free agent. The Bears will obviously need a new center if they can't retain him. Re-signed Roberto Garza

    7. Running Back Depth: Michael Bush was released, so depth is needed here.

    8. Right Tackle: Jordan Mills struggled last season, but he was a mere fifth-round rookie, so he'll be given another chance.

    9. Tight End Depth: Dante Rosario is a free agent. Depth will have to be obtained behind Martellus Bennett. Re-signed Dante Rosario

    10. Punter: The Bears released Adam Podlesh.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2014 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Lamarr Houston, DE, Raiders. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bears (5 years, $35 million)

      Lamarr Houston, the Raiders' best player, is a strong pass-rusher and is even better at shutting down the run. He'll only be 27 in June, so he deserves a massive contract.

    2. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings. Age: 32.
      Signed with Bears (4 years, $32 million)

      Jared Allen has been one of the NFL's top pass-rushers over the past seven years, but he struggled a bit at times this past season. A sign of age, or was this just a fluke? The team that signs him to a big contract will have to worry about Allen declining at 32.

    3. Willie Young, DE, Lions. Age: 28.
      Signed with Bears (3 years, $9 million)

      The sack numbers don't show it, but Willie Young had a solid season both in terms of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. At just 28, he deserves a fairly decent-sized contract.

    4. Brian De La Puente, C, Saints. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bears (1 year)

      Brian De La Puente has been a quality starting center for the Saints during the past few seasons. He deserves a decently sized contract.

    5. Ryan Mundy, S, Giants. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bears (2 years)

      Ryan Mundy has done well filling in for injured players at the safety position. He's strong against the run, but is somewhat weak in coverage.

    6. Israel Idonije, DE, Lions. Age: 33.
      Signed with Bears (1 year)

      Israel Idonije had a great 2012 campaign, but hasn't done much in Detroit. He's been a decent run-stuffer, but he hasn't put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    7. M.D. Jennings (RFA), S, Packers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Bears
    8. Domenik Hixon, WR, Panthers. Age: 29. -- Signed with Bears
    9. Danny McCray, S, Cowboys. Age: 26. -- Signed with Bears (1 year)
    10. Jordan Senn, OLB, Panthers. Age: 30. -- Signed with Bears (1 year)

    Chicago Bears Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Henry Melton, DT, Bears. Age: 27.
      Signed with Cowboys

      Henry Melton was one of Chicago's top defenders entering the 2013 season, but he struggled prior to tearing his ACL in late September. He was also charged for misdemeanor assault in October. He should be able to rebound if healthy, but the knee injury is a natural concern.

    2. Major Wright, S, Bears. Age: 26.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Major Wright played very well in 2012, but had an awful 2013 campaign. Perhaps he deserves a mulligan, as he battled neck and hamstring injuries all season. He's only 26, so he should be able to rebound.

    3. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears. Age: 34.
      Signed with Packers (3 years, $30 million; $7.5 million guaranteed)

      Julius Peppers did not look like the same player in 2013. He recorded 7.5 sacks, which isn't indicative of how poorly he played. He struggled to put pressure on the quarterback and was pushed around in run support. Peppers, who turned 34 in January, will never be dominant again, but there is some bounce-back potential if he's motivated enough.

    4. Roberto Garza, C/G, Bears. Age: 35.
      Re-signed with Bears (1 year, $1.5 million)

      The versatile Roberto Garza had yet another solid season for the Bears. Unfortunately, he'll turn 35 in March.

    5. Charles Tillman, CB, Bears. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Bears (1 year)

      Charles Tillman used to be known as one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, but he struggled mightily in 2013 before tearing his triceps. Perhaps he'll be able to rebound, but given that he'll turn 33 in February, there's a chance he has completely fallen off.

    6. Devin Hester, KR, Bears. Age: 31.
      Signed with Falcons (3 years)

      The greatest return specialist in NFL history, Devin Hester proved that he's still dangerous by taking back a punt for a touchdown in 2013. He'll be 32 in November though, so it remains to be seen how much longer he'll be effective.

    7. Josh McCown, QB, Bears. Age: 35.
      Signed with Buccaneers (2 years)

      Josh McCown credited Kurt Warner for his improved play. Perhaps Warner should be an NFL coach because McCown was prolific when starting in place of Jay Cutler, completing 66.5 percent of his passes and maintaining a 13-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on an 8.2 YPA.

    8. Corey Wootton, DE, Bears. Age: 27.
      Signed with Vikings (1 year)

      Corey Wootton happens to be solid in run support, but he's only average when it comes to rushing the passer. He had seven sacks in 2012, but saw that number cut in half this past season.

    9. James Anderson, OLB, Bears. Age: 30.
      James Anderson covered well this past season, but was exposed against the run after Henry Melton was sidelined with an injury.

    10. D.J. Williams, ILB, Bears. Age: 31. -- Re-signed with Bears
    11. Zackary Bowman, CB, Bears. Age: 29. -- Signed with Giants
    12. Dante Rosario, TE, Bears. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Bears
    13. Jay Ratliff, DT, Bears. Age: 33. -- Re-signed with Bears (2 years)
    14. Earl Bennett, WR, Bears. Age: 27.
    15. Michael Bush, RB, Bears. Age: 30.
    16. Eben Britton, OT, Bears. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Bears
    17. Blake Costanzo, OLB, Bears. Age: 30.
    18. Nate Collins, DT, Bears. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Bears (1 year)
    19. Craig Steltz, S, Bears. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Bears (1 year)
    20. Adam Podlesh, P, Bears. Age: 31. -- Signed with Steelers
    21. Kelvin Hayden, CB, Bears. Age: 31. Re-signed with Bears (1 year)
    22. Sherrick McManis, CB, Bears. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Bears
    23. Anthony Walters (RFA), S, Bears. Age: 25.
    24. Jonathan Scott, OT, Bears. Age: 31.
    25. Jordan Palmer, QB, Bears. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Bears (1 year)

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

    NFL Free Agents - April 17

    2015 NFL Mock Draft - April 17

    2014 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

    Fantasy Football Rankings - March 28

    2014 NBA Mock Draft - March 26

    NFL Picks - Feb. 2

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