If you were dissapointed in the lack of big name signings in Halas Hall, shame on you. Three of the Bears’ biggest needs were shored up in a big way. Especially for Pace and co.’s “best player available” strategy, the recent moves have given the Bears much needed flexibility for this upcoming draft. So before we start checking out the draft, let’s review.
Pre-Free agency needs:
Pre-FA depth chart: Christian Jones, Lamin Borrow, Shea McClellin
Key Additions: Danny Trevathan (Broncos), Jerrell Freeman (Colts)
Key Subtractions: Shea McClellin (Patriots)
Arguably Chicago’s most pressing need was at the two inside linebacker positions. Adding Freeman (30) and Trevathan (25), PFF’s second and sixth ranked linebacker respectively, gives the Windy City the best ILB combination in the NFL. This is great news, but nothing, not even the Cubs’ pending world series pennant, tops the best news of all: He’s your problem now, New England! Shea. McClellin. Is. Gone. Hallelujah!
Offensive Line Depth
Pre-FA depth chart: Charles Leno Jr., Matt Slauson, Hroniss Grasu, Kyle Long, Jermon Bushrod
Key Additions: Bobby Massie (Cardinals), Ted Larsen (Cardinals), Manny Ramirez (Lions)
Key Subtractions: Jermon Bushrod (Dolphins)
Ryan Pace is sneaky good. The signing of Massie can move Kyle Long back to his Pro Bowl position (guard), Larsen will compete with second year center Grasu, and Ramirez will prove to be a solid rotational player. The annual downfall for Chicago usually has something to do with injuries on the O-line, and hopefully the management has fixed that. Former big money LT signing Bushrod has moved on to south beach, but he turned out to be a reserve anyways.
3-4 Defensive end
Pre-FA depth chart: Ego Furgeson, Jarvis Jenkins, Will Sutton
Key Additions: Akiem Hicks (Patriots)
Key Subtractions: Jarvis Jenkins (Jets)
So, this was the least pressing need coming into free agency. Jenkins is a loss, a significant one, but the possibility of Eddie Goldman moving outside and the addition of talented DE Hicks mitigates it. Hicks finished strong after being traded to the Patriots last season, racking up 4.5 sacks in his reserve/rotational role on the Pats’ defensive front. Look out for Sheldon Rankins or Robert Nkemdiche in the draft if Pace trades back.