Part I: Bears Roster Analysis
NFC North Champs, check. Double-digit win season, check. Four All-Pro Selections, check. Top defensive unit in the NFL, check. Arguably the most complete roster in NFL not named the Saints, check. First playoff win in eight years, “Womp womp.” Winning matters in the NFL, and it is all about championships in professional sports. The Bears drought continues after Cody Parkey hit not one but two parts of a field goal post with one swift kick. That is all she wrote.
“What we did, throw that out the window. Everything we did means nothing,” Matt Nagy recently told the Associated Press. “We are zero and zero heading into next season.”
Matt Nagy and Co. set the bar extraordinarily high. They went from worst to first in his first year at the helm. It still wasn’t enough. Roster changes are looming, especially with a new defensive coordinator. That is the NFL. Change is inevitable so rather than hold on to this past season, hang on and enjoy this Windy City ride. The Bears will be aggressive as usual even with the limited resources this off-season. Creativity will be the key to sustainability. The fun has just begun. Join me in my series of playing GM, let’s get creative.
Here are our additions: OT – Dejon Allen, DT – Abdullah Anderson, OL – Willie Beavers, DB – John Franklin III, WR – Tanner Gentry, WR – Cyril Grayson, CB – Michael Joseph, DB – Jonathon Mincy, RB – Ryan Nall, LB – Josh Woods, and LB – Jameer Thurman.
Pending Free Agents (FA)
Here are our 20 expiring contracts: Bobby Massie, Kevin White, Aaron Lynch, Adrian Amos, Eric Kush, Josh Bellamy, Bryce Callahan, Roy Robertson-Harris (RRH), Ben Braunecker, Pat O’Donnell, Deandre Houston-Carson, Benny Cunningham, Rashaad Coward, Isaiah Irving, Daniel Brown, Zach Miller, Bryan Witzmann, Marcus Williams, Nick Williams, and Patrick Scales. The good thing is 10 offensive starters and eight defensive starters are locked up for the foreseeable future. We expect around $20 million in cap space before we begin to improve our roster.
Here are my hopeful re-signs: Witzmann, RRH, Houston-Carson, Scales, and Coward. Witzmann played admirably during Kyle Long’s injury hiatus, we can argue he outplayed Long this season. RRH is a home-grown contributor on the D-line. Houston-Carson was the talk of the preseason for his versatility and coverage skills before a broken forearm derailed him. Long Snappers are hard to come by and Scales has performed admirably. Coward is the former defensive lineman who earned praise for his hands and athleticism from Nagy during training camp. It would not be the first time for the Bears. 1990’s mainstay Big Cat Williams made the switch after going undrafted in 1991. He was eventually selected as a second-team All-Pro in 2001.
Here are our notable subtractions: Massie, White, Lynch, Amos, Callahan, O’Donnell, and Irving. Massie has been a mainstay on the right side of the O-line but decided to put together his best season during a contract year. White, the former first-round pick, never could gain traction on the field due to various injuries. Lynch was productive but his ability to stay on the field is evident. Amos may have outplayed a reasonable contract in Chicago, he is a fan favorite. Callahan is a terrific slot corner when healthy but he has struggled to stay on the field during his time in Halas Hall. O’Donnell is just average, may receive a one-year prove it deal with camp competition. Irving is an inexpensive piece that could return prior to the season. But we have Kylie Fitts waiting in the wings.
If Chicago is going to avoid the status quo changes must be made. These are real-life situations with hypothetical scenarios. The Bears must improve in two areas: special teams and the run game. Pace’s words declared they will improve this roster. The Free Agency period begins on March 13. Be sure to check-in for my next segment of Being Ryan Pace.
Until then, stay thirsty and Bear Down! JT out.