The Bears are coming up on a key offseason where they will have many big decisions. The biggest 3: What do to at the QB position, Should they retain Alshon Jeffrey and what happens with the staff? For the first question, many may say get rid of Jay Cutler and restart, but hear me out. For one thing, this QB class is not very deep. Sure there's Watson and Trubisky and Kizer, but since the Bears pick behind the Browns, 49ers, both of whom have somewhat of their own QB needs, so there is a good chance that 2 quarterbacks may be picked there. Next is he fact that if Dowell Logains runs he ball more, pressure will be taken off of our QB, who will then play really well. That's what happened with Cutler in 2015 with Adam Gase. If Loggains just agrees with Fox to run the ball a lot more with Jordan Howard, Kadeem Carey and Jeremy Langford, that QB will perform strongly like his 2015 campaign. This also doesn't mention that Cutler was injured in both of the first 2 games in which he struggled, but he still wasn't horrible, as his blocking didn't pick up till the 4th game of the season. Then he came back and had solid games against the Giants and especially the Vikings, but a terrible game against the Buccaneers. Also he had a solid game against the Texans and an Ok game against the Eagles. Not to mention Ian Rappoport said that there was a good chance the Bears would retain Cutler. They may keep Brian Hoyer as a backup (though he will receive other offers) and Matt Barkley as a young project, but I believe they should keep Cutler for another year. If he has a 2015 year, keep him. If he has a 2016 year, probably cut ties. If he has a 2014 year, release him. Any QB could play really well if Dowell Loggains runs the ball 25+ times a game. If we do move one from Cutler, a possibility, then we don't have the best of options. There's Tony Romo, possibly Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins who probably is staying in Washington, RG III, or Deshaun Watson round 2, or reach for Trubisky or Kizer round 1. I simply believe that this is not the year to shop around for a QB, and Cutler is less than a year removed from a great campaign with Adam Gase. The key to that success? RUNNING THE FOOTBALL! They should restructure Cutler's contract to about $12 million this year, too. That would make him want to play harder and better to earn the rest of the money, so we should have a clause should he be able to take the Bears to the playoffs, he gets the $18.1 million and not just 12. The future in 2017 would look much better with a financially responsible deal with Jay Cutler. We should a clause saying he will get his money back if we go to the playoffs. But I think the main reason why we will keep Cutler is because Ryan Pace and John Fox will realize they need to keep Alshon Jeffrey to have any success making the playoffs since he is the leader for our passing game so we need to keep him and they need to keep him happy, and he's only REALLY happy with Cutler, so we should keep him, but only at a financially reasonable restructured contract, and the one I offered above makes a ton of sense. Keep in mind I'm saying this is the best offseason whether or not we keep Cutler. The best thing to do if we cut ties with him is try to get Tyrod Taylor or possibly Tony Romo and start developing a rookie. But then I'm scared about Jeffrey leaving. This is coming from a diehard Bears fan who hates bad Cutler but loves good Cutler.
Now, if the Bears DO keep Cutler, Then on the 90 man roster to open training camp, they should have at the QB position: Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, Connor Shaw, an undrafted rookie, a rookie drafted in whatever round, definitely by round 5, and a veteran, possibly Hoyer. If they get rid of Cutler, then they should probably get Tony Romo and draft a QB earlier. Or they could just sign any vet, possibly Brian Hoyer or someone else while still taking a QB. If Tyrod Taylor becomes available, we should definitely be interested. The clear question is: If not him, then who?
Now on to Alshon Jeffrey. After a year where he played just 8 games yet amassed over 800 yards receiving on 54 receptions, he's played in 9 games this year with just 630 yards. There is no way he gets a large contract like Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant, but he could get something in the 4 year/ $52 million range. But I strongly believe the Bears NEED to keep Jeffrey to even have a chance at winning.
When it comes to the coaching staff, John Fox will certainly return. Loggains isn't guaranteed but Fox is loyal so I'd expect him to return. They should add some assistants for the offense to help Loggains. Also I've heard rumors that Vic Fangio may leave. Hell no. NO WAY. I do expect the Bears to go after Mike McCoy if fired for an offensive assistant position, and maybe after Gus Bradley as a defensive assistant. So unfortunately we lost running backs coach Stan Drayton to the Longhorns, but we can replace him with one of these 5 people: the current Ohio State running backs coach, the current Oklahoma running backs coach, the current Clemson running backs coach, the buccaneers running backs coach, the Seahawks running backs coach, or a former Bears RB like Thomas Jones. They fired the O-Line coach and Safeties coach as well. They could hire Mike Mccoy as a passing game coordinator, Greg Olson as a QB's coach and O-Line Coach, Pepper Johnson as an assistant D-Line coach, and Ed Reed as a Safeties coach. We could also consider guys like Pep Hamilton, Gus Bradley, or Lance Briggs.maybe the Indiana OC.
Now on to roster management. The Bears will look to cut Eddie Royal which will save them $5 million in cap space. He could return, but he's just too injury prone and doesn't produce highly. I believe they will for sure cut Ego Ferguson and save another 1 million. There's a possibility of cutting Lamarr Houston as well, which could save another 7 million, though they may keep him on a very DEEP group of OLB's. Without cuts they are projected to have about $58 million in cap space. I believe they'll keep Houston and cut Royal and Ferguson, so they'll have $64 million in cap space. Then taking a restructured Cutler deal we have $71 million total cap space. Looking at their free agents, there are only a couple to resign. Obviously as mentioned above, we should keep Alshon Jeffrey at ALL COSTS. As long as he doesn't ask for more than a 5 year/$65million deal, I think we should 110% bring him back, so give him 4 years and $13 million a year. Now as for other free agents, I think Brian Hoyer will test FA and probably find a better deal in a better place than Chicago, so he'll probably be gone. As for Brian Houer, I think we should get him back on a 1 year/$3 million deal. We should keep Cornelius Washington at a 2 year/$2 million deal. And keep Christian Jones for sure at $1 million. Then we should resign these players to minimal deals: Johnathan Banks, Eric Kush, Matt Barkley, Chris Prosinski, Sam Acho, Deonte Thompson,Josh Bellamy, Marquess Wilson, Connor Shaw, and CJ Wilson and Johnathan Anderson, Damontre Hurst, Patrick Scales and Daniel Brown. Any ERFA we should use the tender like Bryce Callahan and maybe use an RFA tender for restricted free agents. Use Overthecap.com to understand. Some of those guys may not make the final 53 man roster. Oh and unless they find a better kicker available, retain Connor Barth. And they need to keep continuity on the O-Line to help Jordan Howard. They could also cut Will Sutton, but I expect that in the final cuts to 53. Maybe they'll resign Hoyer too. The QB outlook at the beginning of camp is: Cutler/Romo/Taylor, Matt Barkley, Connor Shaw, A veteran (Hoyer), a rookie and an UDFA. For all the resignings it will take about $21 million
And we should trade a 2018 3rd round pick, a 2017 4th round pick(Bears), Mitch Unrein and John Timu to the Jets for SHELDON RICHARDSON and a 2017 6th rounder. Even with all the signing down here, his salary will fit, especially if we also trade Lamarr Houston for him. We should also obtain a 6th rounder. The reason is he has off the field issues and he doesn't want to be with the Jets, so they will look to trade him
My favorite part: Free Agency. With quite a few needs, the Bears need to be active. I'm saying only sign 2 big names of these 6: Eric Berry, Trumaine Johnson, Charles Johnson, Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones. For sure at least one of those guys. Subtracting money for resignings (total of $27 million in resignings) and the draft (about $6 million), they will have about $37 million in cap space for free agency. Supposing Eric Berry stays with the Chiefs, which will probably happen on a deal in the 5 year/$75 million deal range, I think we must go after Johnson to help fix the secondary. We can't get him at too high of a price, so I'd go a max $12 million a year at a 3 or 4 year deal. But Ryan Pace being Pace, he probably won't pay that much for a Defensive Back who is not a star. Therefore I expect him to sign Prince Amukamara or AJ Bouye on a 4 year/$28 million deal with a $6 million cap hit this year. Here are other deals we should make:
Mario Addison DE 3 year/$18 million deal, $5 million cap hit,
Tony Jefferson S 2 year/$13 million deal, $4.5 million cap hit,
Marshall Newhouse OT 1 year/ $2.5 million deal.
Ronald Leary OG 2 year /$5.5 million deal 2.5 million cap hit
TE Dion Sims/Larry Donnell/Gavin Escobar 2 year/$7.5 million deal $3.5 million cap hit
Bennie Fowler WR 1 year/$1.5 million deal.
Lance Dunbar RB 1 year/$850k deal and
Johnathan Hankins DT/Chris Baker 3-4 DE 3 year/$15 million deal (Only if we don't trade for Sheldon Richardson)
Brandon Boykin 1 year/$1 million deal
Subtracting this money, resigning money, and the draft money ($9 million) and the Sheldon Richardson money, we should still have about $5 million in cap space. And yes, I calculated it on overthecap.com, and it was true. It's a great website to be the GM of your team for an offseason. It's awesome and I have screenshots of the new team. Now, with e extra money, they should sign guys like Thad Lewis and some other guys to deals with no guaranteed money so they can prove themselves in training camp. They could still sign a Dontari Poe or Captain Munnerlyn.
We could also trade for some people, or we could sign someone who would be cut like DRC. Some other guys we could target include DRC, Brandon Albert, Prince Amukamara, AJ Bouye. I think if we don't want to deal with a potential bidding war tripping to sign Trumaine Johnson or AJ Bouye, we should sign either Prince Amukamara, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Logan Ryan Morris Claiborne, or Captain Munnerlyn.
Now on to the NFL draft. The Bears currently have the 3rd overall pick. This is my 7 round mock draft for the Bears, without the trade for Richardson
Round 1 pick 3: Malik Hooker S Ohio State/Jamal Adams S LSU
Round 2: Taco Charlton 3-4 DE Michigan
Round 3: Jorden Legget TE Clemson
Round 4 (Bears pick): Dwayne Thomas CB LSU/Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson
Round 4 (Bills pick): Jerod Evans QB Virginia Tech
Round 5: Austin Carr WR Northwestern
Round 7: David Sharpe OT Florida
The Bears need a playmaking difference maker in the secondary, so getting an elite prospect in Malik Hooker has to be a priority. Maybe they can trade back a few picks to get Jabrill Peppers at a spot in the teens, and acquire maybe another Day 2 and Day 3 pick while giving up a 7th rounder. They need another defensive lineman and Charlton is a monster. As I said, secondary is a big need, so getting a corner in round 3 or 4 should be priority, and Thomas/Tankersley has ideal size for Vic Fangio's Defense. If they do get rid of Eddie Royal, they'll need another slot receiver which they can find in Carr. O-Line depth is an issue, even with a solid interior. Evans is definitely a possible future QB but that's no guarantee, but in the 4th round it's worth the gamble, especially with his potential and talent. Tight end depth is an issue, and Legget is the Tight End we need. and the Bears may want another Linebacker in the rotation
With the proposed trade for Richardson:
Round 1: Malik Hooker S Ohio State/Jamal Adams S LSU
Round 2: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Round 3: Dede Westbrook WR Oklahoma
Round 4: Jordan Legget TE Clemson
Round 5: Jerod Evans QB Vtech
Round 6 (From Jets): Chunky Clements DT Illinois
Round 7: Forrest Lamp T Western Kentucky
One scenario showing our main options:
Round 1: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State/Johnathan Allen DT Alabama/ Jamal Adams S LSU/ Jabrill Peppers S Michigan/Deshaun Watson QB/Deshone Kizer QB Notre Dame/ Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina
Round 2: Jourdan Lewis/Taco Charlton/Justin Evans/Patrick Mahomes/Gareon Conley/Desmond King
Round 3: Carlos Watkins/Julien Davenport/Jordan Legget/Dede Westbrook/Cordrea Tankersley/Carrol Phillips/Roderick Johnson/
Round 4 (Both picks): Taylor Moton/Jerod Evans/Dwayne Thomas/Davon Godchaux/Rasoul Douglas/Davis Webb/Jeremy Sprinkle
Round 5: Austin Carr/Cole Hikutini/Chunky Clements/Ahmad Thomas/Josh Harvey-Clemons/Jay Guillermo
Round 6-7: David Sharpe/Forrest Lamp/I'Tavius Mathers/Billy Williams/CJ Beathard/Jamari Staple/Pharaoh Brown/Hardy Nickerson
Here are other prospects the Bears could target, by round:
Round 1: Jonathan Allen, 3-4 DE, Alabama Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M (If both San Fancisco and Cleveland take QB's) Marlon Humphery, CB, Alabama, Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan (trade down) Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina and Deshone Kizer, QB Notre Dame (Just putting this out there for all who believe we need to take a QB round 1 and move on from Cutler, I DO NOT BELIEVE SO, BUT I UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM)
Round 2: Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin, Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (could draft him and still keep Cutler, then starter could feel pushed and perform better), Taco Cherlton, DE, Michigan, Jaleel Johnson, DE, Iowa, Jarron Jones, DE, Notre Dame, David Godchaux, DE, LSU, Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri, Dawuane Smoot, DE/OLB, Illinois, Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern, Desmond King, CB, IOWA, Jourdan Lewis, CB Michigan,
Round 3: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, CLemson, Jordan Legget, DEDE Westbrook, Artavis Scott,
Cole Hikutini Austic Carr James Quick
These are the best offseason scenarios for the Chicago Bears in 2017. Comment and Grade!