The Chicago Bears didn’t come away with any of the big-name, high-priced players they pursued in free agency. Nor did the team supplement its roster with any of the elite defensive prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. Instead, GM Ryan Pace loaded up on short-term fixes to plug positions of need, including at quarterback where the team signed a player who hasn’t started a game since 2014.
And yet, Sports Illustrated is giving the Bears a ‘B’ for their offseason efforts.
Jonathan Jones’ offseason report card is awfully kind to the Bears, especially when considering the skepticism surrounding the numerous widely panned aspects of the team’s offseason. Jones’ grade seems to stem from the Bears’ aggressiveness in attacking their need at quarterback. The Bears were active in free agency and bold throughout the weekend of the draft, and only time will tell if their efforts will bear fruit. And for what it’s worth, at least one pundit seems to applaud their efforts at fixing the most important position on the field.
To his credit, Jones sees beyond the surface of the three-year, $45 million “commitment” the Bears made to quarterback Mike Glennon and notes “it became clear that he was the starting quarterback of the moment and not of the future” when the details of the deal poured out. As a reminder, Glennon’s contract could simply be just a one-year pact worth $18.5 million – essentially, it’s a prove-it deal that benefits a team looking for a bridge quarterback with experience and a player with eyes on re-establishing his market value. And for as apparent as the Bears’ commitment to Glennon was going to be short, the deal to move up in the draft and select Mitch Trubisky made it evident that the North Carolina product was the team’s ideal long-term solution at the position.
The Bears entered 2017 with many questions, and they all couldn’t have been answered in one offseason. However, the team plugged as many holes as it could and did so by balancing the addition of high-risk, high-upside players in the draft such as tight end Adam Shaheen, safety Eddie Jackson, and running back Tarik Cohen with experienced, starting caliber players in free agency.
Each of the team’s major free agent signings has significant starting experience. Two of those players, cornerback Prince Amukamara and wide receiver Kendall Wright, come to Chicago with prospect pedigree having being first-round selections in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Further, Amukamara joins tight end Dion Sims, safety Quintin Demps, wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz as players with postseason experience. No, the Bears aren’t expected to make a playoff run this year. But perhaps professionalism and work ethic of players familiar with what it takes to get to the top is something that could rub off on one of the NFL’s youngest teams.
Chicago didn’t have the best offseason, but it made a clean break with Jay Cutler, a long-term investment at quarterback, added high-upside skill position players in the draft, and several starting-caliber players in free agency. All things considered, it’s becoming easier to argue that the Bears put together an offseason worthy of a passing grade.