Part III: Moves, Evaluations, Decisions, Oh My!
The Pro Bowl has come and gone. The Super Bowl crowned the Patriots champs once again. The Chicago Bears are officially on the clock. This time of year allows all 32 teams to get a head start on player evaluations through free agency, the East/West Shrine game, and the Senior Bowl. Ryan Pace will continue his thorough investigation this off-season.
Here Is What We Know
Behind the scenes, Pace went to work on finding competition at the kicker position. Remember that "one" missed kick and “Today Show” appearance by Cody Parkey. The front office wasted little time showing their intentions. They signed Redford Jones, formerly of Tulsa, to a reserve/futures contract. Bobbie Massie signed a 5-year contract worth $40 million and $15.8 million guaranteed. All the guaranteed money is paid in the first two years ($2.8 million cap hit-year one). The Defensive Staff also took shape as several new assistants join Chuck Pagano in fine-tuning the NFL's top defense.
This leaves Pat O'Donnell, Adrian Amos, and Bryce Callahan as the only starters unsigned. Roy Robertson-Harris is a restricted free agent, leaving Josh Bellamy and Aaron Lynch as other key contributors that are also questionable to return. This is a good problem that suggests the front office has done its job. Until the last off-season, the roster has seen consistent upheaval. The aggressive roster moves led to a 12-win season, an NFC North title, a playoff berth, multiple Pro Bowl/All-Pro selections and the Coach of the Year award.
Pace suggested he will continue his aggressive style moving forward during his season recap. The Bears limited cap space shouldn’t hinder potential roster improvements. Some of their heftier contracts can change guaranteed money into signing bonuses to create space. Roster cuts are expected and some players may be asked to take a pay cut or else. The cap space currently stands at $6,694,327 according to Overthecap.com in conjunction with the anticipated Massie deal. A lot has changed since our last installment.
Let's continue Being Ryan Pace.
According to WGNRadio.com, the Bears were awarded the conditional seventh-round pick from the Eagles (Deiondre Hall trade). They enter the new season with a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and (2) 7th round picks. Pace has shown a knack for finding immediate contributors and/or starters within this range. The current roster make-up would suggest depth needs at running back, tight end, offensive line, nose tackle, with potential starters at punter, and safety.
I am sticking to my convictions from Part I and II, cutting ties with Bradley Sowell, Sam Acho, Dion Sims, and Taquan Mizzell. The one caveat is asking Kyle Long to take a pay cut or give him a full release. Cody Parkey is also finished in the Windy City. It doesn't seem feasible he can return wearing the navy and orange. This brings the cap space to $21,339,327 according to spotrac.com.
The dilemma between Amos and Callahan remains at the forefront of all conversations. After evaluating the film, I choose the diminutive Callahan over Amos. First, cornerbacks are often valued higher than safeties in most NFL circles. Plus, Callahan brings a different dimension at the slot corner position. His ability to blitz is better than Amos. He added two sacks on the season while averaging two picks the previous two seasons. He has a market value of $7 million/year according to spotrac.com. This is probably a good ceiling for a new deal.
Up next we look at the potential draft prospects that fit the Chicago Bears mold according to Pace and Nagy's profile.
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) February 6, 2019
Until then, stay thirsty and BEAR DOWN! JT out.