The Chicago Bears have been one of the more active teams in free agency since the NFL’s official league year began this week. With close to $60 million in salary cap space to work with, general manager Ryan Pace has put that money to good use as he gives hew head coach Matt Nagy the talent he needs to hopefully get the Bears back to the playoffs. The Bears have begun to address positions of need even with the NFL Draft still on the horizon. Here are the players that the Bears signed on Wednesday….
Outside Linebacker Sam Acho-
With Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston gone, along with Leonard Floyd dealing with serious injuries in his young career, the Bears needed depth at this position and bringing back Acho gives them both depth and experience. After playing on back-to-back-to-back one year deals for essentially the league minimum, Pace made a significant investment in the 29-year-old this time with a two-year contract worth $7.5 million. Since 2015 Acho has racked up 140 total tackles, with eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He’s also been a significant contributor on special teams.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara-
After fighting through an ankle injury early last season, Amukamara finished the year with 12 starts and notched 48 tackles and seven pass deflections. Cornerback is another position Pace and company are looking to shore up in 2018, and in Amukamara’s case he’ll be here for 2018 and beyond as his new contract is reported to be worth $27 million for three years.
Tight End Trey Burton-
After the Philadelphia Eagles made the surprising decision to let last season’s Super Bowl hero walk, the Bears didn’t waste any time in adding the 26-year-old to the mix. This move makes perfect sense for the Bears as Dion Sims didn’t have his best of seasons in 2017 (15 catches, 180 yards, 1 touchdown), Adam Shaheen is still developing, with Ben Braunecker and Daniel Brown being virtually non-existent (18 receptions combined last season). Burton may best be remembered for his trick play touchdown pass in Super Bowl 52, but he is a very capable offensive player who has 63 career receptions for 629 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s being reported that Burton will get $32 million over the next four seasons.
Wide Receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel-
The most glaring position need on offense was the receiver spot. Kevin White can’t stay healthy, Cameron Meredith tore his ACL during the preseason last year, while Markus Wheaton didn’t live up to the hype, and the franchise is leaning towards not bringing back Kendall Wright. Despite the fact that Robinson missed the 2017 season with a knee injury, his 2,848 receiving yards with 22 touchdown catches with the Jacksonville Jaguars made him a hot commodity on the market. Gabriel spent the last two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons where he caught 68 of Matt Ryan’s passes for 957 yards and seven touchdowns.
Adding Burton, Robinson and Gabriel will give quarterback Mitchell Trubisky an extreme upgrade in the Bears stagnant passing game. Robinson is getting a three-year contract with $25 million guaranteed, while Gabriel is receiving $26 million over four years with $14 million in guarantees.
Quarterback Chase Daniel-
This 31-year-old has made his career as a backup. He’s been the No. 2 guy behind players such as Alex Smith, Carson Wentz and Drew Brees in recent years. And after getting a $10 million deal from Ryan Pace, it looks like he’ll be backing up Trubisky which means that Mark Sanchez most likely won’t be coming back as some had expected. NBC Sports reports that Daniel has a buyout clause in his contract.
Kicker Cody Parkey-
The revolving door of kickers that the Bears had in 2017 (Connor Barth, Cairo Santos, Mike Nugent) is no more. The Bears gave Parkey $15 million to stick around for the long-term, hopefully he stays healthy. He made 21 field goals and 26 extra points with the Miami Dolphins last season, and opponents only averaged 19-yards per return against him. While replicating every thing that Robbie Gould did with the Bears is a near impossible task, the hope is that Parkey will at least be consistent when he gets his opportunities.
Just as free agency opened up the Bears placed the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller after a career year in 2017. The Bears could still negotiate a long-term deal with Fuller, or the fifth-year veteran could play under the tag for $12 million. Of course all of this is providing that he doesn’t get an offer from another team that the Bears fail to match. The Bears also re-signed offensive lineman Bradley Sowell. He got a two-year deal after proving that he could play guard, tackle and center as the Bears dealt with numerous injuries up front in 2017.
Cornerback Bryce Callahan along with receivers Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy were offered one-year tenders worth roughly $1 million each. The Bears also departed with a number of players from last season’s roster. Expect the Bears to make more moves in the coming days.