When the clock jumped ahead today it cut one hour off our free agent countdown. You’ll take that, right?
- There’s a sense that the Bears are going to be significantly more aggressive in free agency in GM Ryan Pace’s fourth shot this offseason, and my gut tells me they’ll be more successful than in previous years too. Between stability at quarterback, along the coaching staff, and in the front office, the Bears are in a better place to negotiate with free agents than they were at this time last year.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune connects some dots and believes all signs point to the Bears loading up on help for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Allen Robinson (Jaguars) and Sammy Watkins (Rams) will be the most sought-after free agent receivers if they don’t sign with their respective teams. Teaming one of those outside threats with slot receiver Albert Wilson (Chiefs) would make for a respectable group of pass catchers on paper. Biggs also notes the Bears could make a play for Trey Burton, a move that would be in the mold of the team’s calculated gamble on Martellus Bennett before he was fully developed. Fellow tight end Jimmy Graham could be in the mix because he is a red zone target who has a history with Pace and others within the Bears’ front office. Changes could be in order along the offensive line, but it might not be a big-ticket item. Biggs notes swing tackle Bradley Sowell could return to the team in a similar role to the one he had in 2017.
- Richard Sherman’s free agency tour was so quick, you missed it if you blinked. ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported the free agent cornerback was signing a three-year deal worth up to $39.15 million with the San Francisco 49ers. It makes sense considering Sherman’s knowledge of the NFC West and how the teams connected to him on the rumor mill were mostly from the NFC/AFC West.
- NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero has some of the deal’s minor details, which include a $5 million signing bonus and $2 million base salary to go along with $2 million in roster bonuses, $1 million in a playtime-related incentives, and $3 million if he makes the Pro Bowl in 2018. In short, the 49ers aren’t saddled with a money mess if Sherman isn’t the right fit, but if he hits his incentives, I can imagine a scenario where both the team and player are happy with the deal that was agreed upon.
- The Bears were expected to make their push for Sherman, a corner familiar with Vic Fangio’s scheme, but it never even got that far in the proess.
- I suppose being tied for the fewest pass breakups + interceptions is reason enough to be aggressive in a pursuit for Sherman:
Pass breakups + interceptions by each team's secondary in 2017! pic.twitter.com/f12uLSvxu1
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 11, 2018
- I guess the question moving forward is whether or not Sherman is the first sign of a wave of free agents heading to San Francisco. The 49ers seem to have positioned themselves nicely, owning $69.9 million in available cap space – the fourth-highest total in the league. Between a healthy cap situation and Jimmy Garoppolo’s upside, San Francisco could be a team to watch for once free agency gets underway.
- For what it’s worth, the Bears aren’t that far behind the Niners and have $64.6 million in available cap space. And not to be left out, they have a quarterback whose presence under center gives the Bears a shot at a big offseason of their own. Mark Talarico of Da Bears Brothers blog explains how the Bears’ aggressive decision to draft Trubisky puts the team in a position to be aggressive in filling holes on the roster. Part of that comes because Trubisky is still on his rookie deal, which gives the Bears some extra wiggle room in the short-term to make fixes. Then again, Trubisky will be in line for a major payday in a few years if he plays to his potential. Chicago might as well make that money play while it can before it will need to get creative with future fits.
- If you examine their situations closely, the Bears and 49ers might as well be two peas in a pod. Both teams are coming off a disappointing stretch of losing seasons and both have made aggressive moves to secure a quarterback they believe will lead their respective franchises to glory in the future. Both teams also have gobs of money to spend in free agency, young offensive-minded head coaches with a history in getting the best of their quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see how things shake out this offseason between these two heritage franchises. Will glory days be back again? Free agency could reveal some of the answer.
- If you told me that I’d be reading NFL player tweets to get a feel for the free agent market back when I was in college, I would’ve laughed. Alas, here’s something that caught my eye from Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson, who is on the cusp of free agency:
One thing I do know is I had a ball in Seattle! ✊🏾
— Paul Richardson Jr (@prichiejr) March 10, 2018
- Richardson pops up on Tom Pelissero’s list of free agents who could get a surprisingly higher chunk of change than you might have otherwise expected. Richardson is just 25 and was under-used in Seattle, which on the surface, makes him the kind of player the Bears’ GM tends to target in free agency. Possible Bears targets such as quarterback Chase Daniel and tight end Trey Burton also show up on the list of sleepers to keep an eye on.
- One of the top free agent options along the offensive line has been cleared for football activities, just in time for free agency to begin. Justin Pugh has had his moments along the New York Giants’ offensive line, but a back injury caused him to miss the last four games on the 2017 season. Some good news comes in Pugh’s direction in the form of an MRI that revealed no structural damage in his back. If healthy, Pugh can be a productive NFL guard, which puts him on the periphery of the Bears’ radar considering their need at the position.
- This is impressive, especially considering how Eric Kush is working his way back from a pretty severe hamstring injury:
— Eric Kush (@EricKush64) March 9, 2018