Chicago Bears Free Agency: Recapping the First 2 Weeks of Free Agency
I have to admit I had some doubts when Phil Emery was brought on as the new general manager of the Chicago Bears.
It just seemed like a safe move bringing back a former scout and when he didn't speak to the media at the NFL combine, it didn't put my doubts at ease.
However, with all that said I have to admit what he has done over the first two weeks of free agency have.
Signings and Trades
The Bears went into the offseason with three glaring needs and so far they have addressed two of them.
Trading for Brandon Marshall, regardless of all possible off-the-field issues was a great pickup. Reuniting him with Jay Cutler while also not having to pay out any big bonus money, which would have been required if they signed Vincent Jackson, just makes it that much better.
If the Bears could have gone 2-6 instead of 1-6 without Cutler they could have been in the playoffs and who knows what may have happened. In Jason Campbell they get a former first-round pick that has plenty of starting experience.
Adding Eric Weems and Blake Costanzo provide good depth and are excellent special teamers. Weems will serve as the backup to Devin Hester since it is unclear when or if Johnny Knox will return from his injury. Costanzo made it easier to say goodbye to another player who won't be returning.
Finally the latest move of adding Michael Bush might finally give the Bears that one-two punch they have been missing since they had Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Bush can do a lot of the same things that Matt Forte can do but to a lesser degree. The one thing he does do much better is picking up those tough short yards. While Forte might be a little annoyed that the Bears have signed another running back before addressing his contract, I am sure he realizes this move only helps the team.
In my opinion none of the re-signings have been flashy moves but they have all been solid.
Bringing Josh McCown back gives the Bears three quarterbacks with starting experience. While McCown and Campbell won't compete with Cutler it sets up a competition for who the No. 2 will be. It also allows Nathan Enderle a chance to compete for the third spot rather than just get it handed to him like last season.
Early on in free agency it looked like Kellen Davis was as good as gone. He reportedly had meetings with several teams but he ended but passing on all of them. It will be interesting to see how the big tight end is used in Mike Tice's offense.
Re-signing Israel Idonije and Craig Steltz were solid choices after a clear upgrade at either position didn't present itself in free agency. If the Bears had landed Mario Williams I can't imagine Idonije would still be in a Bears uniform.
While I know he is small, I feel Tim Jennings is a very underrated corner. He did his job pretty well last season opposite Charles Tillman and as long as the Bears run the Cover 2 there is no need to invest big money in the corners.
Finally while it might not be viewed as a re-signing, using the franchise tag on Forte was a very smart move. It allowed Emery time to focus on the rest of the team first while locking up an important weapon for next season. I think it is just a matter of time before the two sides agree on a long-term deal so I'm including him in this section.
Not Coming Back
There have been plenty of articles about whom the Bears have brought back or signed but not many on who won't be reporting to Bourbonnais for training camp this season.
Before free agency the Bears cut Frank Omiyale and Anthony Adams. Neither is expected to return. While I have been very critical of Omiyale on the field I am a little sorry to see him go. The main reason behind that is because I finally learned to spell his name.
Besides those two the only other free agents who for sure won't be returning are special-teams ace Corey Graham and Brandon "I'm a personal foul waiting to happen" Meriweather.
Graham signed with the Baltimore Ravens where he hopes to become something more than a special-teams player. With the Ravens he will be united with another former Bears special-teams ace in Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Meriweather failed to live up to expectations in Chicago after being released by the Patriots but the Washington Redskins are hoping that maybe the third time is the charm. He will be asked to replace the oft-injured LaRon Landry.
Also we can't forget the surprising retirement of Marion Barber III just one day after the Bears locked up Michael Bush. It was expected the Bears would cut Barber anyway so his retirement did save a little cap space.
Finally while they still have a few of their own free agents they may look to re-sign one guy who won't be welcomed back is quarterback Caleb Hanie. With the re-signing of McCown and bringing in Campbell there is no room for Hanie. According to reports the Denver Broncos might bring him to back up Peyton Manning. If I were a Broncos fan I'd be in church praying every day for the health of Manning.
So with the big part of free agency wrapping up we just have to look forward to the draft, which is just about a month away. Let's hope Emery continues to impress.
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