The Chicago Bears have been the laughingstock of the NFC North for the past six years. They’ve finished last three years in a row and have made the playoffs just once since 2007. Next season doesn’t look any more promising than the past three have been with Jay Cutler likely out of the mix and the team going through a major rebuild.
It’ll start with free agency, when the Bears have $52.9 million in cap space and a laundry list of needs across the roster. They won’t find a starting quarterback in free agency – unless Tony Romo decides to sign with the Bears, for some reason – so that position likely will be addressed in the draft. However, there are several quality players available who can fill needs on both sides of the ball – especially on defense.
Here are five players they should target.
CB Morris Claiborne (Cowboys)
The Bears’ depth at corner isn’t great and it’s likely to be addressed in the draft. However, before that time comes, they should wade into the free agency waters and sign someone like Claiborne. He was having the best season of his career before another injury effectively cut it short, but the way he played in the first seven games of 2016 show what he’s capable of: being a No. 1 corner. Because of his injury history, Claiborne’s price will be far less than that of the top cornerbacks on the market, and that would allow the Bears to address their other needs.
DB Micah Hyde (Packers)
The Bears need help all over the secondary, and there isn’t a better player available for that than Hyde. He’s versatile weapon in the defensive backfield, having the ability to play corner, nickel, strong safety and free safety. Not coincidentally, the Bears have needs at just about all of those spots. Hyde could come in right away and play alongside Adrian Amos at safety, while also coming down into the slot on sub packages.
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WR Alshon Jeffery (Bears)
For two years, Bears fans have been waiting to see a duo of Kevin White and Jeffery at wide receiver. Unfortunately, it has yet to happen for a sustainable period of time. Is 2017 the year? We hope so, and the Bears should too. Because of their lack of depth and uncertainty at the position, the Bears should do their best to bring back Jeffery on an affordable deal. Will that be possible? Who knows, but his recent injury history and suspension should make it more realistic. The Bears can’t exactly afford to go into the year with their current stable of receivers.
S Tony Jefferson (Cardinals)
Adrian Amos is a good starting point for the Bears at safety, but he needs a runningmate. Jefferson is a similar player in the fact that he’s disruptive and can create turnovers – something the Bears struggled to do last season. With Eric Berry officially off the market, the Bears will have to settle for Jefferson, who’s not as far behind as some believe. If Chicago can nab him for $8 million a year, he would be a valued addition.
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DL Calais Campbell (Cardinals)
The Bears couldn’t stop anyone on the ground last season. They allowed 1,950 yards, which was the sixth most in the NFL. Campbell has spent his career in the 3-4 with the Cardinals, so his transition to the Bears would be smooth. He would be a versatile piece on Chicago’s defensive line, boasting the ability to play nose and defensive end in the 3-4. Campbell has the rare ability to shed blockers against the run while also getting after the quarterback from the inside, having recorded at least five sacks every year since 2008.