The Chicago Bears are in rebuild mode since the Jay Cutler-high-powered-offense experiment failed. The Bears have many holes to fill this offseason both on offense and defense. Their biggest needs lie in the secondary and quarterback.
Chicago Bears 2017 Off-season: Top 3 Needs
If quarterback is the most important position on the field, safety is a close second. After all, safety is the last line of defense. In 2013, Green Bay won the NFC North by defeating the Bears 33-28 at Soldier Field on a last minute-game-winning-drive-bomb by Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb. In 2016, in the middle of the running the table winning streak, Green Bay escaped Chicago with a 30-27 win on a 60-yard bomb from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Both of those plays were a direct result of poor safety play. In an NFL that is increasingly becoming a passing league, strong safety play is becoming more important.
The Bears could select Jamal Adams, Jabrill Peppers, or Malik Hooker to secure the back end of the defense with their first round pick, especially considering they are in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Otherwise, they can draft UConn’s Obi Melifonwu who is receiving lofty comparisons to Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks.
The look for safeties in free agency is a far cry from cornerbacks. However, there is Eric Berry who might be the best safety in the NFL. The only downside is that Berry wants a long-term deal. But can Chicago pay him a Kam Chancellor-like $30 million including $17 million guaranteed over four years when he has never played outside of Kansas City?
The Chicago Bears secondary was atrocious last season, finishing with a mere 11 takeaways, a new nadir for the storied franchise. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, “This season, opposing quarterbacks threw 530 passes and there were only eight interceptions.” The Bears have had porous defenses over the past few years, but they were still capable of creating takeaways. In 2014, they had 24 takeaways, and last year 17.
In a division with the armadas residing in Green Bay and Detroit, and even the Minnesota Vikings with Steffon Diggs, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Bears need a true number one cornerback. There are a handful of talented corners coming out from historical powerhouses such as Adoree’ Jackson, Quincy Wilson, Marion Humphrey, or Marshon Lattimore.
Any of these young players would upgrade the Bears woeful secondary. If John Fox and Ryan Pace want to bring a veteran to further solidify the secondary with veteran leadership, then A.J. Bouye of the Houston Texans, Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan of the New England Patriots, or Trumaine Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams might be possibilities. The Bears could try to copy a page from the New York Giants playbook by revamping their defense through free agency. The Giants went from 29th in scoring defense allowing 27.6 points per game to second allowing 17.8 points per game.
The noise surrounding infamous Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has amplified over the past few seasons for many reasons. He is devoid of leadership, checks out of games, doesn’t play through injury, and comes up empty in big games.
However, the Bears don’t owe Cutler any guaranteed money anymore, so it is likely they will look for a trading partner, and if no one shows any interests, they could release him. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network even suggested that Cutler is considering retirement.
So, the Bears will probably be on the market for a new quarterback. Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, and Mitch Trubisky are likely to go in the first round while Patrick Mahomes will be a second or third round pick.
The Bears are unlikely to use free agency to sign a quarterback since their last attempt brought them to dwell in the basement of the division. If they were to test those waters, Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots seema to be the only viable option. But there are two main concerns with Garoppolo. First, why would Bill Belichick, who announced he wants to coach after Tom Brady retires, let him go despite his current quarterback being 40 years old? And second, in order to acquire Garoppolo, the Bears would have to pay a hefty price – draft picks, a couple at least – when this draft is deep on defensive talent and the Bears need to revamp their defense.
The other option is to either sign a brittle Tony Romo, which makes no sense. If Romo leaves the Dallas Cowboys, it is to sign with a contender, which the Bears aren’t right now. Otherwise, the only good quarterback that may get on the market is Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins. But why bring a 29-year-old Cousins that will demand a lofty long-term deal when you could just draft a quarterback?