Chicago Bears: Grading Their Free Agent Signings and Trades

The Bears have been busy since the NFL began its league year

The Chicago Bears got right to work as the NFL began its new league year and opened free agency last week. General manager Ryan Pace didn't waste any time in trying to fill holes on this team that were exposed during a subpar 2019 campaign. There will be more moves to come down the road, and of course, there's the matter of next month's NFL draft, but here is a snapshot of the new faces the Bears have added thus far. (They also have re-signed safety Deon Bush, defensive end Brent Urban, quarterback Tyler Bray, and long snapper Patrick Scales.)

 

Robert Quinn, EDGE

With the Bears needing another strong pass rusher to complement Khalil Mack, they gave Quinn a five-year, $70 million deal with $30 million guaranteed. The Bears are so confident in Quinn's ability to upgrade the defense that they parted ways with 2016 first-round pick (No. 9 overall) Leonard Floyd as soon as news of Quinn's signing broke.

 

Pros: Quinn is a more proven player than Floyd in terms of production (290 tackles, 90 TFLs, 80.5 sacks, 145 QB hits, 25 forced fumbles, 20 pass deflections in nine seasons). He also has more refined pass-rush techniques and presents the same combination of size (6-4, 260) and speed that Mack does.

 

Cons: The Bears will be Quinn's third team in as many seasons after playing in Miami and Dallas. He has more seasons with fewer than nine sacks (five) than double-digit production (four). Quinn also will have to adjust from putting his hand on the ground in a 4-3 alignment to being in a two-point stance in the Bears' 3-4 scheme.

 

Nick Foles, QB

It was quite obvious after 2019 that the Bears needed to add depth at quarterback in order to push Mitchell Trubisky for the upcoming season. While the Bears had numerous players to chose from in ether free agency, the draft, and even the XFL, they decided to take a rarely-used route in this situation. The Bears used the trade market by sending their compensatory fourth-round pick in this year's draft (No. 140 overall) to the Jaguars in exchange for Foles. It worked out for both sides as the Bears needed a proven signal-caller, while the Jags appear willing to hand the starting job to last year's sixth-round pick, Gardner Minshew.

 

Pros: Foles has been a solid starter at several stops and has impressive leadership qualities. He's familiar with head coach Matt Nagy and others on the coaching staff from their time together in Philadelphia and Kansas City, and he already knows the offense.

 

Cons: Foles has dealt with bouts of both inconsistency and injury at times during his career. For whatever reason, Jacksonville saw enough in the four games he played (missed considerable time because of a broken collarbone suffered in the season opener), to eat a significant chunk of money ($18.75 million dead-money cap hit) to finalize their divorce. The Bears are Foles' fifth team in nine seasons.

 

Jimmy Graham, TE

As soon as Graham was released by the archrival Packers, the Bears inked him to a two-year deal worth $16 million. With Trey Burton's health still a concern, and with the rest of the tight ends on the roster largely unproven, Graham brings a veteran presence to the Bears.

 

Pros: The five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro has been one of the most productive tight ends in the game (649 receptions, 7,883 yards, 74 TDs). His rare combination of size (6-7, 265), speed, and athleticism makes it difficult for defenses to cover him.

 

Cons: Graham is coming off of his least productive season since his 2010 rookie campaign with New Orleans. Injuries can be somewhat attributed to the decline, but Graham also started just 23 of 34 games (including playoffs) in his two seasons with Green Bay. As a Packer, Graham totaled 93 catches for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns. He'll need to pick up his consistency to help justify the investment the Bears made.

 

Barkevious Mingo, LB

The sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft has been a journeyman with stops in Cleveland, New England, Indianapolis, Seattle, and Houston. But that didn't stop the Bears from taking a chance on Mingo (one year, $1.1 million) as they look to replace Nick Kwiatkoski, who's now with the Raiders. Mingo only had six tackles last season after registering at least 47 each of the two previous seasons, so this is very much a prove-it contract.

 

Pros: Mingo has three years of pro experience with a 3-4 defense, and he was a part of a Patriots team that won Super Bowl LI. He's just 29 years old, so he hopefully has at least one more productive season in him.

 

Cons: His lack of playing time is a concern (36 starts in 110 games), and he's only posted double-digit starts just twice in his career (2014, '18). He could be a project for the Bears.

 

Jordan Lucas, S

Fresh off of winning Super Bowl LIV with the Chiefs in February, Lucas is seeking a new challenge after the Bears pulled him off the market with a one-year, $1 million contract. Lucas is entering his fifth season.

 

Pros: He has a Super Bowl ring to his credit and is just 26. He also has solid speed and coverage skills.

 

Cons: Lucas can certainly use more game experience since he's only played in just 50 games to this point (47 tackles, 3 pass deflections, INT).

 

Artie Burns, CB

Burns' signing flew under the radar to some degree; he also received a one-year, $1 million contract for 2020. Burns totaled 149 tackles, 27 pass deflections, and four interceptions for the Steelers from 2016-19. He'll be contending for a roster spot in training camp.

 

Pros: He played in 3-4 alignment with the Steelers, plays well against both the pass and the run, and has postseason experience.

 

Cons: Burns hasn't grabbed an interception since 2017, was last credited with a pass deflection in '18, and has only made seven starts in the last two seasons combined.

 

Germain Ifedi, OL

With Kyle Long retired, Bobby Massie's struggles, and other injury concerns along the offensive line, Ifedi will add valuable depth to the Bears. Chicago picked him up on a one-year contract after the Seattle Seahawks declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which allowed him to hit the market.

 

Pros: Ifedi can play both guard and tackle positions and had a pass block win rate of 91 percent in 2018. His blocking helped pave the way for a Seahawk offense that averaged well over 300 yards per game in each of the last three seasons.

 

Cons: He led the NFL in penalties in 2017.

 

Demetrius Harris, TE

Before the Bears added Jimmy Graham, they signed Harris to a one-year deal in February. Harris first broke into the league as an undrafted free agent in Kansas City in 2014, spending his first five seasons with the Chiefs before signing a two-year contract with Cleveland last March. He tied his career high with three touchdown catches in 2019 but the Browns released him in February.

 

Pros: Harris adds more size (6-7, 230) to the position and he excels as a blocker. He also is quite familiar with Matt Nagy, who was Kansas City's quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and offensive coordinator ('16-17) when Harris was with the Chiefs.

 

Cons: Harris is much more of a blocker than a pass catcher (72 rec., 9 TDs, in 86 career games) and production is what the Bears need from their tight ends. He also enters a crowded tight end room with Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham the only two guaranteed roster spots at this point.

 

Tre Roberson, CB

In late January before the new league year officially started, the Bears signed Roberson to the richest CFL-to-NFL contract since 2009. Roberson garnered the Chicago's and other teams' attention after he recorded 95 tackles, 10 interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns for the Calgary Stampeders over the 2018 and '19 seasons. The Bears expect him to contend for the nickel corner spot in 2020.

 

Pros: As a former quarterback, Roberson can recognize and read opposing offenses well. His speed and agility can be used for gadget plays on offense, and he may be able to return kicks as well.

 

Cons: He needs to prove that he can cover receivers in NFL offenses. Most offenses in the CFL operate spread and wide-open offenses like many college teams do. Roberson will be playing against teams that will run the ball more, and considering he barely stands at 6-feet tall, he'll also be tasked with covering bigger and taller receivers.

 

Overall Grade: C-

 

The Bears addressed needs and added depth at key positions, but some newcomers will have to prove themselves in training camp to earn a roster spot. Others have been bitten by the injury bug more than once and will need to show they can healthy and be productive. The three biggest additions (Quinn, Foles, and Graham) also will be under the microscope.

 

— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.

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