Bears: Can get creative with new piece, McPhee
Versatility is a big selling point in free agency and in Pernell McPhee the Chicago Bears have acquired arguably the league’s most versatile defensive free agent. By snaps played, McPhee was the Ravens’ No. 4 outside linebacker last season but his ability to rush the passer from across the defensive front ensured that he was able to get on the field with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to give the Ravens a three-headed monster of a sub-package pass rush.
As valuable as McPhee was last season, he was always going to be too expensive for the cap-strapped Ravens to keep and their loss is the Bears’ gain. The challenge for the Bears will be working out how to maximize McPhee and with it their investment in him. McPhee’s big selling point this season was his versatility as a pass rusher in sub-packages but he played very little in the Ravens’ base defense. This level of investment would imply the need for the Bears to find a fit for McPhee in their base, but where is that?
Untested as an outside linebacker, McPhee has experience as a 3-4 defensive end from 2012, though as a starter for the first six weeks he struggled as a run defender and returned to a more favorable role as a situational player for the remainder of the season. Alternatively, the Bears may choose not to shoehorn McPhee into their base defense. The production the Ravens got from McPhee in sub-packages last season was exceptional; his 64 total pressures (8 Sk, 21 Ht, 35 Hu) were tied for seventh-most among all edge defenders. The Bears could reasonably decide that they can get 1,000 snaps worth of production from McPhee on 600 snaps and thus don’t need to force him to play on every down.