Bears Offseason Plan
The Bears need a QB to build around, and they need to create turnovers. The interior O-Line, the Linebacking corp, the majority of the D-Line are all in a good place. I may be dreaming, but I don’t think they are far from the playoffs. Especially given the brutal injuries the past two years.
Starting Cap Space: ~$55M (according to OverTheCap)
Alshon Jeffery (WR) – We have to. If he’s healthy, he is a top 10 WR in the league, potentially. His health issues may lower this number, but the Bears have to retain him. 5 year, $65M ($13M per year).
Brian Hoyer (QB) – A bridge QB, without the price tag of a young Matt Barkley. He can either hold the fort, or be a quality backup. 2 year, $8M.
Demontre Hurst (CB) – (RFA) Original Round tender. ~$1.7M.
Christian Jones (LB) – (RFA) Original Round tender. ~$1.7M.
Sam Acho (LB) – Sitautional Pass Rusher. 2 year, $4M.
Mike Adams (OT) – 1 year, $3M.
Notable Players Allowed to Walk:
Matt Barkley (QB)
Connor Barth (K)
Charles Leno (OT)
Jay Cutler (QB) – Duh!… Saves $14M.
Lamaar Houston (LB) – Saves $4M. No need for him with Floyd, McPhee, and Young all rushing the passer.
Bobby Massie (OT) – Saves $5M. Mistake to pay him last year. Bye.
Eddie Royal (WR) – Saves $5M. He can't get healthy. Potentially resign him at a league minimum to return kicks.
Tracy Porter (CB) – Saves $3.5M. A starter, who has no business starting. We are going to fix that here. And besides, the Bears have some young players who can fill the #2-4 cornerback spots.
Sherrick McManis (CB) – Saves $1M. Who is this? Does he even play? Why does he cost real money?
New Cap Space: ~$63M
Rex Burkhead (RB, Bengals) – The Bears need a 3rd down back who can catch the ball, since it isn’t Howard’s forte (get it?). (3 year, $12M).
Dion Sims (TE, Dolphins) – Some TE help, for Zach Miller’s inevitable injury. (3 year, $9M).
Kamar Aiken (WR, Ravens) – The Bears can’t rely on Kevin White, and Cameron Merideth shouldn’t be a starter. Plus, they need someone reliable, who won’t miss games like Jeffery/Royal/White/Miller have as pass catchers. (3 year, $18M).
Matt Kalil (OT, Vikings) – A one year prove-it contract with the hopes he recovers his top-5 draft status. (1 year, $5M).
Sebastian Vollmer (OT, Patriots) – This is the short-term starter at LT for Chicago. (2 year, $12M).
Karl Klug (DE, Titans) – A guy to start across from Hicks on the D-Line. (3 year, $15M).
Abry Jones (DE, Jaguars) – More depth for the D-Line, who can push for the spot with Klug and give the Bears a rotation. (4 year, $16M).
Trumaine Johnson (CB, Rams) – I would prefer Malcolm Butler, or spending for Eric Berry, but neither will realistically be available. Johnson provides a new #1 Corner for the back end with turnover skills. (5 year, $55M).
Duron Harmon (S, Patriots) – Another guy who can create some turnovers if he played full time, and compete with Amos and a drafted player for starting time (spoiler alert!). (2 year, $10M).
That leaves the Bears with another $14 million in cap space to sign more depth and draft picks.
1st (#3 overall) – Malik Hooker (S), Ohio State. Remember the Bears being last in the league in turnovers? Not anymore.
1st (24th overall) – Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson. I want to believe that Watson will be available in the 2nd, but he won’t. So they package their first 4th rounder (109th overall) with a future 4th and the 36th overall pick to the Raiders to go get him, and the 5th year option. I have reservations about his turnovers after Cutler and Grossman, but he wins games. And winning matters. Note: Does not have to be the Raiders. Anywhere in the 20s where they can land Watson is the trade spot.
3rd – Taylor Moton (OT/G), Western Michigan. A potential right tackle, he is more insurance if any of the Pro-Bowlers at Guard and Center go down (Long, Sitton, and Whitehair). And Sitton is in his 30s, so this is a pick looking toward the future.
4th – Julie'n Davenport (OT), Bucknell. A guy who can sit behind Vollmer for a year or two, and get coached into a quality Left Tackle. Another pick towards the future, that may play right tackle in year one.
5th – Daniel Carlson (K), Auburn. The Bears need someone, anyone, good enough to actually replace Robbie Gould.
7th – Chris Godwin (WR), Penn State. Depth, and a quality guy that was productive in college. What’s the worst that happens?
This offseason provides the Bears with a core of young players in the draft and free agency to continue building. Their offense gains with drafting Watson, who immediately competes with Hoyer to start, both of whom can focus on being a game manager rather than carrying the team. Further, they build the protection at the offensive tackle position. The offense gets a few dynamic receiving threats at WR, RB, and TE, and retains Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, the defense works on building depth on its D-Line at 3-4 End, and providing playmakers in the secondary with new starters at cornerback and safety. With more turnovers created, the offense can become more efficient and have more success. John Fox will run like crazy, play good defense, and get above .500. Moreover, the team is set for replacements at key positions in coming years.