Many things have to happen for the Chicago Bears in order for them to be a playoff team like Jordan Howard promised on Good Morning Football.
Ryan Pace must draft well, new head coach Matt Nagy needs to get the best out of the offensive side of the ball specifically, Mitch Trubisky, and the defense needs to continue its growth towards becoming a top-10 unit.
But, in order for everything to come together for this team …
Pace must do something he has not shown he is capable of doing.
Pace must hit on his free agent signings or possibly even trading for a key player.
The 2017 offseason saw the Chicago Bears spend $133 million on 25 players, which accounted for $60 million of the total cap (these figures include players who were tendered a contract and re-signed after the beginning of the new league year) according to spotrac.com.
Unfortunately, there is a decent chance that NONE of those 25 players are even on the roster at the beginning of next season! The players I think have the greatest likelihood of remaining with the team are Kendall Wright, Benny Cunningham and Mark Sanchez. All of which are role players at best and glorified player-coaches at worst.
Conversely, two teams who made major leaps forward in the 2017 season were the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles and the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams, who spent $54 million on ten players and $92 million on 11 players respectively. In terms of their free agent cap hits, the Eagles added just shy of $25 million while the Rams added a hair under $30 million.
One of my favorite saying s is “quality over quantity” and this is just further proof that it carries serious weight in the NFL.
This all begs the question … What was the main difference between the Bears, the Rams and the Eagles?
Well besides the Bears having slightly less talent (though I believe Chicago is closer to being a playoff team than most people think), both the Eagles and Rams hit on virtually every one of their free agent signings, some of which I will mention shortly.
Of the ten players Philadelphia signed last offseason, eight played a significant part in the team’s Super Bowl run.
Now the Rams free agency wasn’t quite that successful, but they still added four significant starters to improve their team via free agency.
The Eagles knew they needed better receivers and could not rely on Nelson Agholor to be a true No. 1 wideout, so they signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
Neither one of those players are elite, but they fit well in Doug Pederson’s offense and complement the other players. The same can be said for Chris Long who played a big part in turning a great pass rush into an elite one.
The Rams struggled mightily on the offensive line in 2017 as well as at receiver so they signed the best left tackle on the market in Andrew Whitworth and an underutilized wide receiver in Robert Woods, both to multi-year deals.
This year Ryan Pace needs to be much more like Howie Roseman, the Vice President of Football Operations for the Eagles, and Les Snead, the General Manager for the Los Angeles Rams and show the willingness to address weaknesses in free agency and even in a trade if possible.
Pace has done some very good things in the draft and has shown his willingness to be assertive and go get a player that he liked.
And while the goal of building through the draft needs to remain in place, Pace needs to show the same aggressiveness he has had in the draft in free agency this year.
There will be a lot of money to be spent by the Bears in 2018 and I am not suggesting that Pace be reckless with that cash, which is a sentiment he stated when talking to the media on Wednesday.
However, if the Bears want to win in 2018, he needs to fill as many of the holes on this team as he can prior to the draft by signing impact players in free agency.