NFL free agents can not sign with a new team until Tuesday afternoon, however beginning on Saturday, teams are allowed to meet with free agents and exchange contract offers with agents.
On Friday, Da Windy City constructed their primer on the Chicago Bears in free agency with a defensive perspective. For the final part of our NFL free agency primer, Da Windy City is breaking down the Bears in free agency with an offensive perspective.
Entering free agency, the biggest need that the Bears may have on the offensive side of the ball is at the running back position. Beyond the running back position, the Bears are in need of a back-up quarterback and could stand to add depth at the wide receiver and tight end positions.
The expectation here is that the Bears will add a running back and quarterback in free agency and then look to add some wide receiver and tight end depth in the draft.
Matt Forte had an excellent season for the Bears in 2013 as the team’s starting running back. The issue is that most modern-day offenses in the NFL feature two productive running backs. Forte was by his lonesome last season in terms of being the only productive Bears running back. The Bears are expected to cut Michael Bush at some point this off-season, though, that move likely will not come until the team has signed his replacement.
Darren Sproles- Sproles would appear to be a perfect fit for the Bears. Sproles could serve as the return-man replacing a departing Devin Hester while also being an ideal compliment to Forte. Not to mention, Sproles has spent most of this decade working with Aaron Kromer as his offensive coordinator in New Orleans. Kromer is now the offensive coordinator of the Bears. Sproles rushed for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns last season with the Saints on 53 attempts. In addition, Sproles compiled 604 receiving yards last season with the Saints on 71 receptions.
Felix Jones- If a running back has the last name of Jones, chances are they will play for the Bears at some point in their career. The next stop for Felix Jones in his career may be with the Bears. The 27-year old running back struggled with injuries last season while playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers but still managed to average 3.8 yards per rush.
Ronnie Brown- After a 2012 season where Brown averaged 4.8 yards per rush with the San Diego Chargers, the 32-year old running back may have started his decline in 2013 with an average of 3.5 yards per rush. Brown does offer some flexibility and creativity to an offense, though considering his age, the Bears likely will seek other options.
It was originally considered a foregone conclusion that Josh McCown would return to the Bears in 2014 to backup Jay Cutler, now it appears likely that McCown will not return to the team. If McCown does leave the Bears, the team will have to scour through the free agency market to find a quarterback to backup Cutler. A role that has had importance to the team in recent seasons.
Jimmy Clausen- Clausen was once considered to be the quarterback of the future for the Carolina Panthers, however like most Notre Dame quarterbacks, Clausen failed to live up to the hype. Clausen is now set to leave the Panthers in free agency and the Bears could have some interest. Clausen has a career passer rating of 58.4 and has not thrown a pass in a game since 2010.
Michael Vick- Vick will not be returning to Philadelphia and if he is willing to serve as a backup, Vick could be a decent pickup for the Bears. The biggest issue with Vick since his return to the NFL has been durability. Vick simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy for a full 16-game NFL schedule. As a backup, Vick would be able to thrive as he could be used in an option-package for an offense. Considering the work Bears head coach Marc Trestman did with McCown, there is some intrigue into what Trestman would be able to do with Vick.
Luke McCown- Besides Josh in 2013 with the Bears, McCowns have never been overly successful in the NFL though they have always managed to find a place on a NFL team. Considering the success the Bears had with Josh McCown last season, Bears general manager may turn to his brother, Luke, to fill-in as the backup to Cutler in 2014. McCown was the backup to Drew Brees last season with the Saints.