NFL News & Analysis

2017 Free Agency Preview: Chicago Bears

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by Andre Hal #29 of the Houston Texans in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on March 1, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

The Bears added multiple starters in free agency a season ago and are primed to do the same in 2017. Two questions loom large, though. The first is what to do with much-maligned starter Jay Cutler, who is due a $16 million cap hit in 2017. The other is whether to bring back No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery to finally pair with Kevin White.

Salary cap room

$51,448,002 million (eighth in NFL; as of 3/6/2017)

Biggest needs

  • Cornerback
  • Tackle
  • Interior defender
  • Safety

Notable free agents

  • Alshon Jeffery, WR, 78.7 overall grade in 2016
  • Matt Barkley, QB, 73.1
  • Sam Acho, Edge, 44.7
  • Brian Hoyer, QB, 80.6
  • Cornelius Washington, DI, 63.3

Must re-sign

Alshon Jeffery, WR, 78.7 overall grade in 2016

At his peak, Jeffery is a true No. 1 receiver. He was fourth among all wideouts averaging 2.87 yards per route in 2015, but is coming off a season where he got his first strike for a PED suspension. The dream that was a 1-2 punch of Jeffery and Kevin White needs to be realized in Chicago.

Dream splash

A.J. Boute, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9

Bouye burst onto the scene with a career year in 2016, allowing a passer rating of 73.1 on the season. He was one of the best playmaking corners in the league, totaling 11 pass breakups on the season – something Bears cornerbacks struggled with mightily.

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Logan Ryan, CB, New England Patriots, 83.5

The forgotten man in the Pats secondary, Ryan has extensive experience playing matchups with larger receivers. His 27 pass breakups over the last two season would be a welcome addition to a struggling secondary.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys, 84.7

Do you think the Bears need cornerback help? Tracy Porter was the third-lowest-graded cornerback in the league last year and going into 2017 with him as the starter seems ill-advised. Claiborne was fantastic last season in man coverage and seems to have figured out his weight issues from early in his career.

Datone Jones, Edge, Green Bay Packers, 69.2

Jones was never a bad player when he saw the field in Green Bay, but unfortunately he was stuck playing essentially the same positions as Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers. He has some versatility to move around inside that could be intriguing to the Bears and will provide at least average play that they could use.

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

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