Chicago Bears Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades

Matt Eurich@@MattEurichAnalyst IMarch 10, 2015

Chicago Bears Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades

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    Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a chance to make a statement in free agency.
    Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a chance to make a statement in free agency.USA TODAY Sports

    Free agency is set to officially begin on Tuesday afternoon, and the Chicago Bears have enough cap space available to possibly make some big moves.

    According to Over the Cap, the Bears currently have over $28 million available in cap space. In addition to the $28 million-plus it currently has available, the team will add on another $4 million in space after the Brandon Marshall trade officially goes through Thursday afternoon, via Dan Durkin of 670 The Score:

    As I said in the cap piece I just posted, cap is a fluid situation. #Bears will now have $32M of free cap space when free agency starts.

    — dan durkin (@djdurkin) March 6, 2015

    Rumors have already started to swirl about which free agents the Bears will target, and they will continue to swirl as it gets closer to 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday.

    Throughout the day Tuesday and all this week, be sure to check back here as we will update Chicago's free-agency tracker with rumors, signings and grades. 

Official: Bears Re-Sign Tight End Dante Rosario

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    According to the Bears' official Twitter account, the team re-signed veteran tight end Dante Rosario to a one-year deal on Thursday:

    #Bears have signed tight end Dante Rosario to a one-year contract. https://t.co/EoQF4L9Q35

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 19, 2015

    Rosario was traded to the Bears in 2013 and finished that season with one catch for 13 yards with three starts. He started three games last season and hauled in 16 catches for 116 yards.

    He played tight end, H-back and fullback for the team last season and provides solid depth behind Martellus Bennett at tight end and is a good special teams contributor.

    He will likely compete with Zach Miller this offseason for the No. 2 tight end spot. 

     

Official: Bears Sign Long Snapper Thomas Gafford

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The Bears announced the signing of long snapper Thomas Gafford on Wednesday, via their official Twitter account:

    #Bears have signed long-snapper Thomas Gafford to 1-year contract. Gafford spent past 7 seasons with Chiefs, playing 105 straight games.

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 18, 2015

    Gafford began his NFL career with the Chiefs in November of 2008 and will replace Jeremy Cain who was with the Bears for one season following the retirement of 16-year veteran Patrick Mannelly.

     

Official: Bears Sign Guard Vladimir Ducasse

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears inked guard Vladimir Ducasse to a one-year deal on Monday night:

    #Bears have signed G Vladimir Ducasse to a 1-year contract. Has appeared in 63 games (11 starts) over last 5 seasons.

    — Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 16, 2015

    He was a second-round pick of the New York Jets in 2010 and most recently played for the Minnesota Vikings.

    He will likely serve in a reserve role in 2015.

Bears Have Interest in Center Samson Satele

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears have shown interest in former Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins center Samson Satele.

    He was drafted by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2007 draft and started all 32 games in 2007 and 2008 before he was traded to the Raiders in 2009 for a sixth-round pick. He started 42 games over three seasons with the Raiders before signing with the Colts in 2012.

    He started 24 games over two seasons in Indianapolis before going back to Miami last offseason.

    He started all 16 games last season and finished as Pro Football Focus' 31st-best center with a minus-11.9 overall grade. He struggled as a pass blocker but graded out with a plus-3.7 grade as a run blocker.

     

     

     

Bears Are Working to Sign LB Mason Foster

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    USA TODAY Sports

    According to Jen Lada of CSN Chicago, the Bears were working on a deal for Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster on Thursday morning:

    Hearing the #Bears are close on a 3 yr deal w/ Mason Foster. ILB has been a FA target since beginning. #NFLFreeAgency

    — Jen Lada (@JenLada) March 12, 2015

    Foster was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Bucs and started 54 games over the last four seasons. For his career, Foster has 343 tackles, six sacks, 12 pass deflections and five interceptions.

    He struggled last season in Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense, but he is an athletic, rangy linebacker who has the ability to roam sideline to sideline. He struggles as pass defender, but he is at his best when stopping the run.

    The inside linebacker spot is thin in free agency this offseason, and Foster is likely being courted by a couple of teams.

Official: Bears Sign Wide Receiver Eddie Royal

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    According to Chicago's official Twitter account, the Bears have signed veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal:

    #Bears have signed free-agent receiver Eddie Royal to a 3-year contract. https://t.co/QEOIMqZI7e

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 12, 2015

    .@EddieRoyalWR signs his #Bears contract earlier today at Halas Hall. pic.twitter.com/TmcDozM6N0

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 12, 2015

    Royal hauled in 62 catches for 778 yards with seven touchdowns last season.

    He gives the Bears a legitimate slot receiver and someone who has the ability to stretch the field at times with his speed. He also has a connection with Jay Cutler who was his quarterback in Denver in 2008.

    As long as the Bears are able to sign him to a team-friendly deal, this goes down as a solid signing for the organization.

     

    Grade: B

Official: Bears Sign Safety Antrel Rolle

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    According to Chicago's official Twitter page, the team signed veteran safety Antrel Rolle to a three-year deal on Wednesday night:

    #Bears have signed free-agent safety Antrel Rolle to a 3-year contract. https://t.co/BeyvCtJFpf

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 12, 2015

    Rolle is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro. He does not possess the same range and speed that he had when he entered the league as a first-round pick back in 2005, but he immediately becomes the best safety on Chicago's roster.

    He finished last season with 87 tackles, one forced fumble and three interceptions.

    He is 32 years old but has the ability to play either strong or free safety and should fit well in Chicago's new 3-4 defense.

     

    Grade: B

Official: Bears Have Signed Pernell McPhee to a 5-Year Deal

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    After reports surfaced on Monday afternoon that the Bears were set to sign defensive end/outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, the Bears made the signing official on Wednesday morning:

    #Bears have agreed to 5-year deal with former Ravens LB Pernell McPhee. https://t.co/d72oIHvMhe

    — Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 11, 2015

    McPhee gives the Bears plenty of versatility in their new 3-4 defense. He played outside linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle during his time in Baltimore.

    He was drafted in the fifth round by Baltimore in 2011 and registered 92 tackles and 17 sacks in four seasons with the Ravens, including 7.5 sacks last season.

    Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best 3-4 outside linebacker last season behind Kansas City's Justin Houston:

    Pernell McPhee's +26.0 overall grade was 2nd to only Justin Houston at 3-4 outside linebacker

    — Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 11, 2015

    With the Bears making a move to a 3-4 defense this offseason, McPhee is a big signing because he should help stabilize the defense under Vic Fangio, and at just 26 years old, he could turn into the face of the defense for years to come. 

     

    Grade: A

     

Eddie Royal Is Meeting with the Bears in Chicago

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    According to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, San Diego Chargers receiver Eddie Royal traveled to Chicago to meet with the Bears:

    Told by a source that WR Eddie Royal is indeed in Chicago. Bears apparently readying to make their play.

    — Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) March 11, 2015

    Royal hauled in 62 catches for 778 yards and seven touchdowns last season. In seven NFL seasons he has 338 receptions for 3,750 yards with 25 touchdowns. His most-productive season came in 2008 playing alongside Jay Cutler in Denver. That season he caught 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns.

    He would likely take over the No. 3 wide receiver position and give the Bears a speed option down the field and in the slot. 

Antrel Rolle Set to Visit with the Bears

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, safety Antrel Rolle is meeting with the Bears, but no deal is in place:

    Giants S Antrel Rolle is visiting Bears: no deal in place.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2015

    Jen Lada of CSN Chicago initially reported that the Bears were set to sign Rolle:

    Hearing the #Bears will sign S Antrel Rolle. #NFLFreeAgency

    — Jen Lada (@JenLada) March 10, 2015

    Looks like it might take some time before a potential deal is reached.  

Brandon Marshall Trade Now Official

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The trade between the Bears and New York Jets for Brandon Marshall is now official, according to Adam Schefter:

    Actual trade compensation in Brandon Marshall trade: Jets get Chicago’s 7th-round pick plus Marshall for NY's 5th-round pick, per NFL source

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2015

    Initial reports last week did not indicate a seventh-round pick going to New York from the Bears.

    The fact that the Bears were willing to give up an additional pick to move Marshall proves they were willing to do whatever they could to get rid of him. 

     

     

Bears Have Shown Interest in Chiefs Safety Ron Parker

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    USA TODAY Sports

    According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears have shown interest in Chiefs safety Ron Parker:

    #Chiefs S Ron Parker remains very much on radar for #Bears

    — Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 10, 2015

    Biggs also said the Bears appear to be competing with the Atlanta Falcons for Parker's services:

    One source said #Bears & #Falcons are most involved for #Chiefs S Ron Parker at this point. Not sure how close it is but FA opens in 3 hours

    — Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 10, 2015

    Parker entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent time with the Oakland Raiders, Seatle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers before landing in Kansas City in 2013.

    He started 15 games last season and registered 94 tackles, one sack, 12 pass deflections and one interception. 

LB D.J. Williams Will Not Return in 2015

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago, the Bears have informed D.J. Williams that he will not be re-signed:

    #Bears informed veteran MLB DJ Williams the team is going in a different direction & he will not return to Chicago, per a source.

    — Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) March 10, 2015

    Williams made 14 starts for the Bears over the last two seasons and registered 73 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumbled.

    He was plagued by injuries throughout his time in Chicago, only appearing in 18 of the team's 32 games. 

     

Bears Have Reportedly Struck a Deal with Pernell McPhee

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the Bears came to terms with defensive end/outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on Monday:

    Pernell McPhee to Chicago Bears on five-year, $40 million deal, nearly $16 million guaranteed: http://t.co/JdSXJrop6Y

    — Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 9, 2015

    The signing will not be official until Tuesday afternoon, but McPhee gives the Bears a versatile player who can play defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had McPhee as his third-best available 3-4 outside linebacker in free agency this year.

    "McPhee is a disruptive presence and a versatile defender able to play defensive end or linebacker," Miller wrote. "He’s the type of player who will never come off the field and can make plays against any offensive scheme."

    He spent most of his time with the Baltimore Ravens as a rotational player, but he registered 7.5 sacks last season in just 540 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

    The Bears needed to add a pass-rusher in free agency, and it looks like McPhee is going to be their guy.

Bears Are Showing 'Serious Interest' in Denver DT Terrance Knighton

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Bears have a need in the middle of their new 3-4 defense at the nose tackle position, and it looks like they may have interest in Denver's Terrance Knighton, via ESPN's Josina Anderson:

    Source: Teams showing 'serious interest' in impending unrestricted free agent DT Terrance 'Pot Roast' Knighton include OAK, WAS, IND & CHI.

    — Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 8, 2015

    Knighton played for Bears head coach John Fox in Denver in 2013 and 2014 and has registered 201 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections, two interceptions and three forced fumbles in his six-year career.

    Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo listed Knighton as the second-best defensive tackle on the market behind Ndamukong Suh, writing:

    Since signing with the Broncos in 2013, Knighton has been one of the best defensive tackles in the league. His +15.3 grade ranked 12th at the position in 2014 after posting the sixth-highest grade in 2013 (+26.4). He’s been very good against the run at +13.0 while providing 18 hurries on 317 pass rushes. Still just 29 years old, Knighton will be a coveted commodity to fill a hole in the middle of a team’s defensive line.

    He has spent the majority of his career playing in a 4-3 defense, but making a transition to the 0-technique in a 3-4 should be easy for him because of his ability to be productive against the run.

    After a report from Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle claimed a deal between Knighton and the Oakland Raiders was close, Troy Renck of The Denver Post quickly refuted it:

    Terrance Knighton is not close to a deal with #Raiders...seen that out there. They are still in play along w #Redskins, #Bears, #Colts

    — Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) March 9, 2015

    It won't be easy to convince Knighton to come to Chicago if teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Washington are interested, but his connection to Fox could help sway his decision.

Albert Breer Believes the Bears Won't Move Jay Cutler

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Bears signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven-year, $126.7 million deal last offseason, but after a poor 2014, Chicago's new regime has to make a decision about his future with the organization.

    If Cutler is still on the roster on March 12, $10 million of his contract becomes fully guaranteed for 2016, via NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:

    If the #Bears aren’t sold on Jay Cutler, as they’ve said publicly, his contract is an issue. $10M for ’16 becomes fully guaranteed in a week

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2015

    The Bears could try to trade Cutler, but NFL.com's Albert Breer thinks Cutler will still be with the team in 2015:

    With Marshall gone, chances are Bears hang on to Jay Cutler. Was told Chicago didn't bring the QB in trade talks involving Marshall.

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 7, 2015

    Cutler threw for 3,812 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions last season but was benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 versus the Detroit Lions.

    Head coach John Fox has been noncommittal all offseason about Cutler's future in Chicago.

    “We’re going to take the full amount of time to gather information, visit and build a relationship,” Fox said about Cutler, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Hopefully, [we’ll] make the best decision for our organization.”

    If the Bears do decide to stick with Cutler in 2015, the team will likely go with a more run-oriented offense with him under center.

Bears Reportedly Have Interest in Quarterback Shaun Hill

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    Tom Gannam/Associated Press

    The Bears re-signed backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen late last week, but it looks like the team is interested in bringing in veteran Shaun Hill, per Benjamin Allbright of MileHighSports.com:

    Several teams expect Shaun Hill wind up in Chicago.

    — Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 9, 2015

    Hill went undrafted out of Maryland back in 2002 and has spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions and most recently the St. Louis Rams.

    He started eight games last season and threw for 1,657 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has made 34 starts over the last 13 years and has thrown for 8,037 yards with 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in his career. 

    He is a serviceable backup and would likely compete with Clausen for the No. 2 job if he signs with the Bears. 

Team Has Interest in Safety Antrel Rolle

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    USA TODAY Sports

    According to Jen Lada of CSN Chicago, the Bears have shown interest in New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle:

    Was under impression #Bears defensive FAs would skew young young young. Now hearing 32 yo Antrel Rolle in the mix...hmmm. #NFLFreeAgency

    — Jen Lada (@JenLada) March 9, 2015

    ESPN Chicago's Michael C. Wright backed up Lada's report, tweeting:

    @JenLada He's one of their top targets and Bears appear 2B frontrunner for his services.

    — Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) March 9, 2015

    Rolle was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2005 and has registered 799 tackles, four sacks, 68 pass deflections and 26 interceptions in his 10 years in the league.

    He is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, and he has the ability to play both strong and free safety. He lacks the range and speed he had when he was younger, but he still plays well in coverage in the back half of the field.

    He is not a long-term solution, but he could help add stability and leadership to Chicago's defense.

Team Is Pursuing Outside Linebacker Brooks Reed

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    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Bears are among five teams pursuing Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed:

    Jets, Atlanta, Chicago, Arizona and Oakland pursuing OLB Brooks Reed.

    — John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 9, 2015

    Reed was taken in the second round by the Texans in 2011 and has registered 169 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections and one interception over the last four seasons.

    He plays well against the run, but he has struggled at times as a pass-rusher. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus thinks Reed would be a better fit at inside linebacker:

    While we're talking players miscast by position... I think Texans OLB Brooks Reed would make a pretty good ILB.

    — Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) February 25, 2015

    According to Pro Football Focus, Reed finished last season with a plus-2.4 run grade and registered 23 tackles on 291 snaps against the run.  

    Since the Bears have reportedly signed McPhee to a long-term deal, they could be interested in moving Reed to the inside to improve their run defense.