It would be fair to expect significant roster turnover after the Chicago Bears’ 3-13 season.
But before we dive deep into the free agent pool, we would be wise to take an internal look at unrestricted free agents the Bears could re-sign or let go this offseason.
Free agency officially begins March 9. (See other important dates and deadlines here.)
Alshon Jeffery, WR
One of the league’s most coveted free agents is a player the Bears aren’t sure whether or not they will keep. He has two 1,000-yard receiving seasons under his belt, but injuries and a PED suspension in 2016 have made it tough for him to shake the unreliable label. The Bears could give him the franchise tag again (beginning on Wednesday, in fact) and decide on his long-term future down the road. In any case, the Bears (or several other teams) are in for a pricey decision this offseason.
Matt Barkley, QB
Barkley posted a 95.9 passer efficiency rating when trailing with less than four minutes left in the game, but overall, struggled to play turnover-free football. The USC product threw 14 interceptions, which was tied for the ninth most in the NFL, in only 129 pass attempts.
Brian Hoyer, QB
Tossed 200 passes without an interception before a season-ending injury threw the Bears quarterback situation for a loop. Hoyer could be targeted by other teams looking for a stop-gap solution or a back-up for a veteran starter on a playoff contender if he doesn’t return to Chicago.
Marquess Wilson, WR
Always seemed to be on the cusp of something positive before being derailed by the injury bug. Wilson has played a grand total of 31 games in four seasons with the Bears. GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox preached about availability in their season-ending state of the team address in January, so while Wilson wouldn’t cost a lot to retain, the injury concerns that linger make him a liability.
Logan Paulsen, TE
Played in all 16 games with the Bears and hasn’t missed a game since 2010, participating in 80 games (54 starts) since the start of 2011. The Bears are lacking at the tight end position, so Paulsen represents a depth option if the Bears want to go that route.
Ted Larsen, G
Expected to be the Bears’ center to start the season, an injury cleared the way for Cody Whitehair to break out into one of the league’s best as a rookie. Larsen eventually made eight starts in his 15 appearances and could return in a reserve role in his age 30 season.
Eric Kush, G
Three years younger than Larsen, Kush played in eight games and made four starts. Has a bit of positional flexibility and is the type of player who isn’t going to start unless it is in an emergency — but is worth keeping for depth purposes.
Mike Adams, T
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by his favorite team growing up (the Steelers), Adams started six games as a rookie and 10 in his second year. Ineffective play and injuries ended his career in Pittsburgh in 2014. He missed all of 2015 after back surgery and signed with the Bears in 2016, making one start in 11 games.
Nick Becton, OL
Becton has had a short run with the Bears as a practice squad member (2015), who signed a one-year deal in 2016 before being placed on injured reserve.
Matt McCants, OL
A sixth-round pick by the New York Giants out of Alabama in 2012, McCants started three games for the Oakland Raiders in 2013, but has no starts since. Has appeared in 17 games since 2014.
Sam Acho, OLB
A valuable special teams contributor who has missed one game in the last three seasons, Acho also fills a role as a reserve linebacker. Not a game-changer, but valuable because he is a veteran leader on a young team and is an unsung hero among special teamers.
Cornelius Washington, DE
Picked in the sixth round in 2013, Washington played in a career-high 15 games in 2016, making 14 tackles and collecting two sacks. Considering the Bears’ need for depth along the defensive line, he’s the kind of player who can help fill out the back of a roster at a minimal cost.
Johnathan Banks, CB
This former second-round pick was claimed off waivers from the Lions in December and split time between Detroit (2 games), Tampa Bay (5 games) and Chicago (2 games) in 2016.
C.J. Wilson, DT
Signed in late September, Wilson played in six of the team’s last seven games, with his season’s highlight being a sack of Aaron Rodgers in Week 14.
Brandon Boykin, DB
Boykin spent time on four teams last year, but was placed on IR in August and never played a down with the Bears.
Connor Barth, K
Connecting on only 78.3% of his field goal attempts didn’t leave a great first impression after replacing fan-favorite Robbie Gould. After making a career best 93.8% in 2014, Barth has seen his accuracy rates decline in each of the last two seasons.
Deonte Thompson, WR/KR
Had his most involved season as a receiver (22 catches, 249 yards, 2 touchdowns) but this special teams ace saw a decline in the explosiveness in his returns in 2016. Thompson averaged 23-yards per kick return last year after averaging 29.2 yards in 2015 and 27.8 yards prior to this most recent season. He is a player worth being in contention at the back-end of the receivers mix, but his value takes a major hit if he isn’t a quality special teams contributor.
Chris Prosinski, S
Hasn’t been an impact safety, but was noted by Pro Football Focus as a one of the best special teams performers in the NFL.