The Chicago Bears have been quietly making moves during the free agency period of this year’s offseason in hopes of another postseason run in 2019.
The Bears, who made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2010, were a missed field goal from defeating the reigning Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s NFC Wild Card showdown.
While the Windy City faithful called for the head of kicker Cody Parkey because of the heartbreaking loss, Chicago’s fan base remains optimistic that their team will return with an even better roster than last year.
So far, the Bears have indeed made sound decisions this offseason. Here are the three key takeaways from the storied franchise’s moves in free agency.
3. Smart Money Management by the Front Office
Before the Bears starting shopping around for upgrades, they made sure that they had enough cap room to work with for their free-agency spending.
Last season, Chicago shook the NFL world by trading for generational pass-rusher Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. And once Mack stepped on Solider Field, the Bears suddenly became one of the most imposing defenses in the entire league.
However, the former Defensive Player of the Year came with a steep price tag, and the team looked to fix that issue by restructuring Mack’s contract last week.
In turn, Chicago saved $11 million in cap space, which the team then used to make several moves in free agency while keeping its checks and balances healthy. In hindsight, the team still has about $13 million in cap room as we speak, which makes Mack’s restructured contract all the more pivotal this offseason.
The most notable bargain that the Bears got was the signing of safety HaHa Clinton-Dix from their NFC North rivals in Green Bay. The former Packer signed a one-year deal worth only $3.5 million – a low price that even Clinton-Dix himself admitted to accepting over more lucrative offers by other NFL teams.
Part of the reason that Clinton-Dix chose the Bears was that he would be playing alongside his former collegiate teammate Eddie Jackson in the secondary. But above all else, he was mainly enticed by Chicago’s current roster build that has championship potential written all over it.
2. Minor Offensive Upgrades with Major Upside
Apart from arguably the steal of the offseason with the Clinton-Dix signing, Chicago also made efforts to surround quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with new weapons on offense.
The first of which was Seattle running back Mike Davis, who agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal. Davis had his best season as a pro last year as a Seahawk, finishing with career-highs of 112 carries, 514 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and four touchdowns. Chicago now has a formidable backfield trio that already boasts stud running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
The day after the Davis signing, the Bears went out and signed New England wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson to a similar two-year deal worth $5 million.
Patterson is a nice target for Trubisky in the passing game, but he was also a jack-of-all-trades for the Patriots last season. The six-year veteran was a special teams savant, returning 23 kickoffs (with one reaching the end zone) for an average of 28.8 yards per return.
Chicago’s signings of Davis and Patterson didn’t just have the team’s salary cap taken into consideration, but also how the two would fit in well with the current offense in mind.
1. The Best Defense in the NFL Just Got Even Better
The Bears were the best team in the league last season in terms of points allowed per game (17.7) and total takeaways (36), and they were only one of three teams last year to give up less than 300 yards per contest to their opposition.
Chicago also added former Jets cornerback Buster Skrine as Chicago’s new slot defender to complement veteran first-time Pro Bowl selection Kyle Fuller and veteran Prince Amukamara in the secondary.
2006 was the last time the Bears made the Super Bowl, and they leaned on a superb defense to get to that point. Now, the 2019 version of George S. Halas’ pride is banking on another stacked defensive lineup for another crack at their first Lombardi Trophy since the 1985 season.