Bears Could Pursue Top Free Agents

The Bears are set to enter free agency with no shortage of cap space, and it appears they’re primed to put that money to use. General manager Ryan Pace is “extremely prepared” to explore the open market, he told the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, who writes that the Bears could make “strong” bids for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and, as previously reported, quarterback Mike Glennon. Additionally, the Bears could take a run at right tackle Ricky Wagner.

Stephon Gilmore (vertical)[RELATED: PFR’s Top 50 Free Agents]

As PFR’s Dallas Robinson detailed in January, the Bears are rife with questions at corner. Picking up Gilmore could go a long way toward fixing their issues, then, though the careerlong Bill is going to be costly (Biggs forecasts a $13MM-per-year contract). Gilmore, 26, is a five-year pro who started in each of his appearances (15) for the third straight season and notched a career-high five interceptions in 2016. However, after ranking as one of Pro Football Focus’ 10 best corners in 2015, Gilmore dropped to 61st (among 112 qualifiers) last season. Nevertheless, Gilmore possesses an impressive resume, having racked up 68 appearances, 66 starts and 14 picks since going in the first round of the 2012 draft.

As is the case at corner, the Bears are in dire need of help under center. That figures to lead to a Glennon pursuit, as Biggs relays that he’s Chicago’s No. 1 target to replace the soon-to-be jettisoned Jay Cutler. Glennon sat behind Buccaneers starter Jameis Winston the previous two seasons and barely played during that span, but he previously registered 19 appearances and 18 starts from 2013-14. While the Bucs have tried to retain Glennon at $8MM per year, he’s likely to receive both more money and a legitimate shot to start from another club – perhaps the Bears.

Like Gilmore and Glennon, Wagner figures to earn at least eight figures annually on his next contract. The career Raven, 27, is coming off his third season with at least 14 starts, and he finished as PFF’s 18th-best tackle among 78 qualifiers in 2016. He’d further beef up a Bears offensive line that rated among the league’s 10 best units in both the run and pass blocking departments last year, per Football Outsiders.

Signing Wagner could put incumbent right tackle Bobby Massie in danger of staying on the Bears’ roster. Chicago inked Massie to a three-year, $18MM deal in free agency last offseason, but he went on to rank a so-so 43rd among PFF’s 78 qualified tackles. Massie’s due a $1MM roster bonus March 11 and set to count over $6MM against the Bears’ cap in 2017. Cutting him would leave the team with just $1MM in dead money, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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23 comments on “Bears Could Pursue Top Free Agents

  1. bts76

    Great to read! Exciting young players entering their prime.

    I would think the Cutler market heats up closer to the draft. A team like Buffalo makes a lot of sense. They may part with Tyrod Taylor and if released, Cutler would likely opt for other teams (jets, 49ers, Texans, Browns) or wait until a camp injury and a starting job opens up.

    Send a 4th and conditional ’18 pick and everyone improves.

    • CriminalMethod

      I just don’t see Cutler agreeing to any trade that involves a “secondary” city like Buffalo or Cleveland. He’s a diva and definitely wants to be in a major market. Even if they do find a trade partner, getting a fourth rounder is a stretch, never mind multiple picks.

        • justinept

          He could retire. He’s 33 and has made more than enough money. He’s also hinted at the possibility.

          • CriminalMethod

            Exactly. Any team that agrees to the framework of a trade to acquire Cutler will want to make sure he’s not going to up and retire.

  2. ShortJr

    I’ve been saying to get Gilmore and Wagner since January! I would be shocked if they get them because they don’t usually get the players in want them to get… I’m not to fond of the Glennon pick up too

  3. Hannibal8us

    What ever happened to the NFLPA saying they were going to advise players to avoid signing with the Bears. I remember seeing an article about that a month or so ago on here. Any updates on that?

    • Here is the update on that. The NFLPA statement is bullshit and not one free agent will not sign with the Bears because of it.

      • Hannibal8us

        I agree it’s bs but I do worry it will have an impact on FAs since if you’re choosing between two cities with similar pay why would you go to the one with less friendly laws. It’s hard enough to convince people to come play here look at the Bulls so I just wanted to know what people at the combine about it.

  4. BearDown

    It’s pretty much Gilmore or bust now with Trumaine Johnson tagged again. Bouye would be nice but he doesn’t produce the turnovers gilmore does and Chicago needs.
    Pick up FS Duron Harmon to pair with Jamal Adams from the 3rd overall pick. With either Callahan or LeBlanc at the nickel just need to hope either Hall or Fuller can play opposite Gilmore and Chicago should have some depth and a good secondary

  5. Tony

    I live in the Buffalo area and Bills fans cant wait for Gilmore to leave town. Its funny how the Bears fans “want” him in Chicago.

    • Nick

      Just curious, as I know nothing about Gilmore, why does Buffalo want him out of town?

      • Tony

        Gives up to many big plays. Fans just don’t think he’s worth the money he wants.

  6. I have been a die hard bears fan all my life , 37 yrs an sorry to say but If the bears don’t get it right this yr by doing a number of things I will not only not purchase any more bears tickets but no more items as well no jerseys, hats , shirts etc with the bears logo on it , us as fans have to make some kind of stand against all this nonsense, an yr after yr , we spend our hard earned money to buy tickets an jersey’s ect, of a team that don’t care about the fans just saving them money, what good is it to have all the extra cap space if ur not going to sign player’s that will help us get younger were not getting younger were getting dumber , 1st off look at all we gave up in the past 3 seasons , Marshall, forte, bennett , olSen , shea , need I say more peppers all left to go to other teams an been successful, went to the playoffs and even the damn superbowl , now bennett will be the top te on the market another huge smack in the face , now we are on the verge of losing another elite player in Jeffrey instead of giving him help u feel it will be better to subtract from what we have an say oh wereally rebuilding gtfoh…. rebuilding what with nothing to build around , this has been the formula for the Bulls as well an we see how that’s working out haven’t been to the playoffs in yrs an if they make it this yr it’ll be barely, I’m sick of it an I will boycott the Chicago sports for the rest of my life if this continues, I will not continue to waste my time an money an now u want to raise tickets as well to watch what the team get embarrassed when I can just read about it the next day in the paper what I’m gone waste my money to watch them lose an rebuild, Ryan pace get lost , u can miss me with that bullshit , 1st off u need to resign Jeffrey , trade for garoppolo with the 2nd an one of the 4th round picks , sign poe , Gilmore, an a.j boyne , as well as a top safety u have the money get it done , the draft , 1st pick best player on the board, then ss, cb , backup qb , te ,cb , wr depth, ol that should be ur flat out platform to contend right away an for yrs to come enough of the beating round the bush shit waiting to see what other teams are going to do first get some balls grow a pair , u can’t expect to be a contender with no or proven weapons stop being stupid the top player on the market are bears or former bears bring back Marshall to help with the bridge of Jeffrey an white as a 3rd wr draft o.j at te , Allen 1st over all peppers at ss in the 3rd or another ball hawk a few other lil pieces an this team will be ready to contend thus season maybe not superbowl but playoffs at least is what we shotin for not a couple yrs from now Chicago front office get ur shit together before the next move the Chicago Bears make will be to move the team to the LA bears an Chicago won’t have a team cuz no fans will go to games nor watch them …. after this yr it’s boycott season if they don’t get it right this yr , next yr will be a empty solider field mark my words..

  7. Gregg

    I’d like to see Bears double dip in free agency with corners. Kayvon Webster was drafted by Fox and played well with Denver when given a shot to play. Just stuck behind 3 stud CBs on the depth chart.

    • CriminalMethod

      They could for sure. The money has to be right though. Especially since this is one of the deepest drafts for secondary guys in a long time.

  8. DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA is telling free agent players not to sign with the Bears because of an employee law that is going through the IL state government.

    There’s a rumor going around that the Bears are going to sue DeMaurice and the NFLPA because of his comments. Is there any truth to that?

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