Bears Top 50 Free-Agent Targets

Bears Top 50 Free-Agent Targets

We all love playing NFL general manager. That’s what I’ll do here by creating my own Big Board of NFL free agent targets the Chicago Bears real GM, Ryan Pace should pursue. Here’s the criteria I used:

  • Players who fit a need as either a starter or provide depth
  • Players who will not put the team in salary-cap hell
  • Certain players may have received higher consideration because we deemed the position they play is weal in the draft
1. Anthony Jefferson, S

This is my top get. A 25 year old safety about to hit his prime. My opening offer is five years at $50 millions with 50% guaranteed. I want to build a powerhouse defense and I need a game-changing safety to compliment my developing front-seven.

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR

Avoiding the franchise tag of at $17.5 million is smart business. Nonetheless, I’m not pushing him out the door. We know he’s capable of being a game-changing receiver with the right weapons. I begin by offering a good faith 3-year $45 million with a whopping 60% guaranteed.

3. A.J. Bouye, CB

With the 2017 draft deep at cornerback, Bouye isn’t at the top of my list, but he’s close. If I sign Bouye I’m drafting a mid-round corner who can develop into a starter in a couple of years. Buoye helps us now and I’m offering 4 year deal, $42 million deal with 45% guaranteed.

4. Eric Berry, S

Berry wants a deal higher than the Vikings’ Harrison Smith signed last season. That’s fair. But, I’m reluctant to go much higher if Jefferson’s agent and I can’t work out a deal. Let’s start at 5 yrs/$57 million with a team-friendly $35M guaranteed.

5. Melvin Ingram, ED

Word is Ingram will be tagged on Wednesday. If that is misinformation, I’m calling his agent because over last two seasons Ingram has 18.5 sacks and last year he tied for the third-most total pressures among edge defenders with 72. It’s a long-shot signing because if he hits the open market Ingram will likely command the most free-agent dollars this year, but we have to explore what it will cost to acquire this difference-maker. Start negotiations with a 5-year $100 million deal and 55% guaranteed.

6. Malcolm Butler, CB

The Patriots will make it difficult for this restricted free-agent to hit the market, but if he does he’s deserving of a Darius Slay-type deal: 4 year, $48,150,000 with about 45% of that guaranteed.

7. Logan Ryan, CB

Ryan is on the rise. A sure-tackler. He’s got two years of starting for the Patriots under his belt. Could be a great value. I’m considering offering Ryan a fat deal with a low guarantee: 6 year, $40,000,000/ $10M

8. Adam Thielen, WR

If Alshon Jeffery and I can not hammer out a deal I’m making an aggressive pitch to Thielen. And, if Jeffery does sign a deal, I’m less aggressive, but still would like to woo Thielen who had 69 catches last year and almost 1,000 yards. He’s a deep ball threat and can artfully work underneath, too. Thielen is an unnoticed gem and I want him. 4 years, $25,000,000 with 50% guaranteed. Thielen is a restricted free agent.

9. Trumaine Johnson, CB

Word is Johnson will be tagged. I’ll be a little surprised if that happens as he’s coming off a disappointing season. Yet it’s easy to see why there’s love in the air. If he’s available, and if Bouye signs elsewhere and Fangio says “get him!” then I offer up the market value of four-years, $49.6 million and try to get the guarantee under 50%.

10. Chandler Jones, EDGE

With Ingram such a long-shot, Plan B is Chandler Jones. But, word is he will be tagged on Wednesday. That’s okay as I definitely would not over-spend on a player who took advantage of some poor offensive lines in the NFC West, but he would probably thrive under Fangio.

11. Stephon Gilmore, CB

Pro Football Focus considers Gilmore to be the top free agent cornerback available. With good reason. While his grades are not at the top his body of work reveals a corner with considerable upside. It’s going to take Darius Slay dollars. 4 year, $48,150,000. 45% guaranteed.

12. Brian Hoyer, QB

Shoot me. I know. Shoot me. But, I have to face reality and the reality is that I need a quarterback. The Jay Cutler situation is too toxic. Hoyer has experience with the offense. He’s the bridge until my rookie QB is ready. I’m not even going to get into the specifics of what I’m offering Hoyer, because I’m bleeding here, man! I’m bleeding.

13. Duran Harmon, S

Could be a big value signing for the safety position. His coverage skills are excellent. If my other bigger name safety options have failed I’m showing Harmon that I’m interested with a 5 year, $35,000,000 and 40% of that dough guaranteed.

14. Terrell Pryor. WR

If Jeffery is gone and the Vikings (likely) keep Thielen then I have to address the receiver situation because my starters are Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Pryor has shown enough to make me feel comfortable that he’s successfully transitioned to receiver (transposition?) I hate to give him Marvin Jones’ money, but I might be forced to overspend a little. 5 year, $40,000,000 with 50% guaranteed

15. Josh McCown, QB

If Hoyer finds someone willing to overpay I’m still dealing with a quarterback problem. I’ve got Mike Glennon’s agents number handy, but I’m calling McCown’s agent first and making my pitch that I need McCown’s leadership skills. I’m offering whatever I offered Hoyer and facing the possibility that I may not be able to cut ties with Cutler.

16. Nick Perry. EDGE

I’m not a huge fan of Perry, although he did have a breakout year in 2016. But, a close look at Perry’s performance and you notice that his best games happened when Clay Matthews was on the field. Perry is not “the guy.” So, if he wants ” the guy” money he can go eat cheese. A Pernell McPhee-type deal: 5 year, $38,750,000. 45% guaranteed

17. Micah Hyde, DB

Hyde became Dom Capers experimental project last season as he converted him into the hybrid DB/LB role that’s becoming popular. That experience may drive his price up. Hyde is also a special teamer. 4 year, $32,000,000 contract might lure him to Chitown with 40% guaranteed.

18. Kenny Stills, WR

Yeah, still worrying about the WR issue. But, if I’m closing a deal with Stills who averaged 17.2 yards per catch with nine TDs than I’m okay. We’re looking at Keenan Allen money: 4 year, $45,000,000 with 40% guaranteed.

19. Johnathan Cyprien, S

The fact that Cyprien is this far down the list is not an indication of how much I value his play. PFF ranked him as the best run defender in the NFL. That’s any position. Yes, he’s not the coverage safety we need but if Cyprien is one of the two starting safeties on this team, than I’m giving myself an A. 4 year, $26,000,000 with 40% guaranteed.

20. & 21 Dre Kirkpatrick, CB & Morris Claiborne

I’ve got a phone to each ear and telling each player’s agent the same thing, because essentially both come with the same concerns: guys headed towards becoming busts before a solid 2016 season. I’m treading carefully here and looking for value. Would anyone bite on a front-loaded 3 year, $18,000,000 deal with easy escape clauses after year one?

22. Jabaal Sheard, DE/EDGE

Got to like his versatility. 13 sacks the last two seasons. His production fell a little last season, but I don’t think that’s cause for concern. If my coaches like the tape as much as I do, I’m going to be aggressive: 4 year, $38,000,000 with 45% guaranteed

23. Brandon Williams, DL

I’m only kicking the tires here. He’s an excellent run-stopper. Don’t know if he’s a scheme fit so I’m talking to Fangio (notice how I’m not interested in John Fox’s opinions) to see if he likes the talent. If so, I wonder if a Haloti Ngata type deal is intriguing: 2 year, $12,000,000 with 50% guaranteed.

24. Alan Branch, NT

Yes, I want to get younger and the 32 year old Branch flies against my philosophy. But, I need a proven back-up to Goldman who missed ten games last season. A two-year, $9,500,000 with 40% guaranteed

25. 26. 27. Cairo Santos, Greg Zuerlein, Steven Hauschka. K

I’m outsourcing the duty of signing a kicker to my intern. “Here’s a list of my favorites. Sign one of them to a Blair Walsh-type deal: 1 year, $1,100,000. And, get me a cup of coffee.”

28. John Simon, EDGE

Back to real business. If Fangio tells me he likes Simon over Nick Perry, than I will call this guy’s agent first. His improvement chart is pointing up and PFF says he had 26 QB pressures on about 200 snaps. Might take more coin than I want to spend: 4 year, $33,758,730 with $18 m guaranteed

29. Cordarelle Patterson, WR

Not always sure what’s happening between the ears with this guy, but he’s an undeniable talent. He won’t run perfect routes, he’s undisciplined, but if I still haven’t secured WR help I’m taking a chance on Patterson who is arguable a top-three return specialist, too. I don’t think he’ll be cheap: 4 year, $30,000,000 with, tops, 40% guaranteed.

30. Dontari Poe, NT

His play has regressed so I’m a little concerned. But, boy, wouldn’t it be nice to get a value signing out of Poe’s agent and have him help Goldman? If Branch hasn’t signed I’m offering a similar deal to Poe with wiggle room for more.

31. Prince Amukamara, CB

If I’m still looking for a CB, I could do worse than Amukamara who had a sold season with the Jaguars. I might offer as much as 4 year, $21,500,000 with 40% guaranteed.

32. Barry Church, S

Church is another one of several players on this list who had a good year coinciding with their final contract year. Ugh. Nonetheless, he proved he’s a better tackler and can player center field. Can I get him at a 3 year, $14,750,00 deal with 45% guaranteed?

33. Mike Glennon, QB

If I strike out with my other QB choices I have to call this guy’s agent or bring back Cutler next season. Don’t look at me that way. You got a better idea?

34. D.J. Swearinger, S

Another one-year wonder. But, damn last year’s tape looks good. Could I lure him with a 3 year, $13,750,00, 35% guarantee?

35. Jayrone Elliott, OLB

There must be something wrong with this guy. Every time I see him he’s making plays for the Packers. Yet, the team consistently limited him playing time. Hmm. Nonetheless, I want him in camp and I’m offering a 2 year, $9,050,000 with 30% guaranteed.

Here are 15 other players whose agents will get a call from me:

36. Jonathan Banks, CB
37. Rafael Bush, S
38. Cornelius Washington, DL
39. Datone Jones, OLB
40. Jack Doyle, TE
41. Chris Banjo, S
42. Sam Acho, OLB
43. Victor Cruz, WR
44. T.J. McDonald, S (Recent arrest for DUI is a red flag)
45. Bradley Mcdougall, S
46. Rex Burkhead, RB
47. Kelvin Beachum, T
48. Kamar Aiken, WR
49. Kevin Minter, LB
50. Sterling Moore, CB

That’s my top 50. It’s fluid. Performance at the Combine might make me adjust. If the cornerback class is as strong as it appears I might prioritize things differently. But, I want to stay true to my plan:

  • Don’t Build A Roster To Win Now – It’s Impossible. Not Without A Quarterback Who Can Win Now
  • Stay Young Unless You’re Forced To Sign A Stopgap
  • Health

What do you think? Send me your thoughts on twitter @BearsBarroom or on Facebook.

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.


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