2017 Free Agency Preview: Chicago Bears

Top free agent targets for the Chicago Bears, players that must be re-signed, team cap space, and more to get you ready for 2017 free agency.

| 3 months ago
(Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

(Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

2017 Free Agency Preview: Chicago Bears

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on March 1, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

The Bears added multiple starters in free agency a season ago and are primed to do the same in 2017. Two questions loom large, though. The first is what to do with much-maligned starter Jay Cutler, who is due a $16 million cap hit in 2017. The other is whether to bring back No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery to finally pair with Kevin White.

Salary cap room

$51,448,002 million (eighth in NFL; as of 3/6/2017)

Biggest needs

  • Cornerback
  • Tackle
  • Interior defender
  • Safety

Notable free agents

  • Alshon Jeffery, WR, 78.7 overall grade in 2016
  • Matt Barkley, QB, 73.1
  • Sam Acho, Edge, 44.7
  • Brian Hoyer, QB, 80.6
  • Cornelius Washington, DI, 63.3

Must re-sign

Alshon Jeffery, WR, 78.7 overall grade in 2016

At his peak, Jeffery is a true No. 1 receiver. He was fourth among all wideouts averaging 2.87 yards per route in 2015, but is coming off a season where he got his first strike for a PED suspension. The dream that was a 1-2 punch of Jeffery and Kevin White needs to be realized in Chicago.

Dream splash

A.J. Boute, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9

Bouye burst onto the scene with a career year in 2016, allowing a passer rating of 73.1 on the season. He was one of the best playmaking corners in the league, totaling 11 pass breakups on the season – something Bears cornerbacks struggled with mightily.

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Logan Ryan, CB, New England Patriots, 83.5

The forgotten man in the Pats secondary, Ryan has extensive experience playing matchups with larger receivers. His 27 pass breakups over the last two season would be a welcome addition to a struggling secondary.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys, 84.7

Do you think the Bears need cornerback help? Tracy Porter was the third-lowest-graded cornerback in the league last year and going into 2017 with him as the starter seems ill-advised. Claiborne was fantastic last season in man coverage and seems to have figured out his weight issues from early in his career.

Datone Jones, Edge, Green Bay Packers, 69.2

Jones was never a bad player when he saw the field in Green Bay, but unfortunately he was stuck playing essentially the same positions as Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers. He has some versatility to move around inside that could be intriguing to the Bears and will provide at least average play that they could use.

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

2017 NFL Team Free Agency Previews

NFC EastDallas Cowboys
NFC EastNew York Giants
NFC EastPhiladelphia Eagles
NFC EastWashington Redskins
AFC EastBuffalo Bills
AFC EastMiami Dolphins
AFC EastNew England Patriots
AFC EastNew York Jets
NFC WestArizona Cardinals
NFC WestLos Angeles Rams
NFC WestSan Francisco 49ers
NFC WestSeattle Seahawks
AFC WestDenver Broncos
AFC WestKansas City Chiefs
AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers
AFC WestOakland Raiders
NFC NorthChicago Bears
NFC NorthDetroit Lions
NFC NorthGreen Bay Packers
NFC NorthMinnesota Vikings
AFC NorthBaltimore Ravens
AFC NorthCincinnati Bengals
AFC NorthCleveland Browns
AFC NorthPittsburgh Steelers
NFC SouthAtlanta Falcons
NFC SouthCarolina Panthers
NFC SouthNew Orleans Saints
NFC SouthTampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC SouthHouston Texans
AFC SouthIndianapolis Colts
AFC SouthJacksonville Jaguars
AFC SouthTennessee Titans

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Phong Ta

    Not a big thing but A.J. Bouye’s name is spelled as “A.J. Boute” under the Dream Splash section. If it’s a grammatical error in the paragraph I’m fine with it, not too big a deal, we all make mistakes, but I feel like you should at least make sure to get player names correct

  • crosseyedlemon

    I don’t think there is any doubt that the Bears are ready to end the Cutler era and move on. The organization also needs to look at their conditioning and training program because what good does it do to upgrade positions if half the roster ends up on IR.

  • Adam Pimentel

    Stephon gilmore, Duron Harmon, and Jack Doyle.
    I’m not huge on Gilmore but he’s the best option at this point for the bears who need guys in the secondary that get turnovers.
    Harmon is a true deep safety, something the Bears haven’t had in a long time.
    Draft Jamal Adams and they have a very good secondary for 3-4 years especially if they can get Hall or Fuller to play well

  • dlund6cutler

    PLEASE Don’t sign Mike Glennon to $15 million, he is a back up for a reason.