Bears Free Agency 2016

Akiem Hicks, DE: 2 years, $10 million

Grade: B

Hicks

A deal like this is surprising for a guy that’s always been “on the cusp” but never really lived up to expectations in New Orleans.

Traded to New England mid-season for TE Michael Hoomanawanui, Hicks found his footing in the stretch run and started to play like the inside dominator he was always billed to be, so perhaps the Bears could be getting a steal.

The pickup makes sense when you consider that current Bears GM Ryan Pace was formerly Director of player personnel with the Saints. He’s familiar with Hicks’ abilities. I question Hicks’ effort and motor more than anything. There’s no doubting he can be dominant when he wants to be.

Because of this, I neither love, nor hate the deal, but the upside boosts the  value a bit. He doesn’t have any real injury history or character concerns either. It’s a worthy risk.

 

 

Jerrell Freeman, ILB: 3 years, $12 million, $6 million guaranteed

Grade: A+

Freeman

The Bears clearly have made it a point to improve this dismal area of their defense. Now instead of toting out Christian Jones and Jon Bostic, they boast an incredibly talent rich and versatile duo in Freeman and Trevathan.

Freeman is excellent in coverage and pretty good against the run. Trevathan is obviously the younger and more well-rounded player, but this contract is structured accordingly.

Being 31 now, Freeman will be 34 at the end of this contract, since he’s probably at the end of his prime, the Bears should expect him to regress, but at least this year, they should get quality starter snaps from him on a consistent basis. It will help having such a talented running mate.

At just $4 million per season, Freeman will be a steal this year, and the value of the contract should even out accordingly if Freeman begins to decline. I love this deal.

 

 

Re-Sign Alshon Jeffery, WR: 1 year, $14.6 million, fully guaranteed (franchise tag)

Grade: B+

Jeffery was the top available receiver in free agency and a top 15 receiver in this league.

He’s tall, fast and has dinner plates for hands. He’s right among the best jump-ball specialists in the NFL, so putting the tag on him is likely a short-term solution.

I fully expect the Bears to lock him up long-term and pair him with physical freak Kevin White to form one of the great young receiving duos in the league for years to come.

 

 

Re-Sign Marc Mariani, WR: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

Re-Sign Mitch Unrein, DE: 2 years, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

Re-Sign Sherrick McManis, CB: 2 years, $2.85 million, $600,000 guaranteed

McManis is mainly a special teams contributor, but he does it so well, it doesn’t really matter. He’s a solid tackler and packs a wallop for a man his size.

He also excels in zone coverage but can’t handle man-to-man duties on a regular basis due to his below-average athleticism.

I don’t love spending nearly $1.5 mil per year for a guy that could potentially be a liability on defense, but he can perhaps still improve in the secondary, being only 28 years old.

 

 

Bobby Massie, OT: 3 years, $18 million

Grade: BAALKE AND TORREY SMITH IN A CLOSET GRADE

Massie

Massie has been fairly dreadful for most of his time as a pro, he’s been mostly below average, even on the right side of the line, which is where tackles who can’t pass block go.

The problem is Massie doesn’t offer much in the run block either. He certainly doesn’t have starter qualities. Still, he has some utility as a swing tackle.

I have some qualms with paying $6  million per year to a swing tackle. That’s the kind of idiotic move a guy who thinks Torrey Smith can be a WR1 would make… oh yeah. So this is definitely a Baalke (F) grade.

 

 

Danny Trevathan, LB: 4 years, $28 million

Grade: A+

Trevathan

For a player with a complete skill set like Trevathan (he can cover, run-stuff and rush the passer on occasion) I would have expected somewhere in the realm of $10 million a year.

This deal is absolutely fantastic for the Bears as Trevathan is just entering his prime and has gotten better every year he’s been in the league.

Reuniting with coach John Fox just sweetens the deal. Top marks to the Bears for this move.

 

 

Re-Sign Tracy Porter, CB: 3 years, $16.5 million

Grade: C+

This is an understandable deal considering Porter actually became a viable starter last year. At times, he was the best player in the Bears secondary.

There’s some concern though that this was an anomaly, but staying in the same defense is the best thing that could have happened for Porter.

A little over 5 mil per year might seem steep, but consider that a player who played at a similar level last year in Janoris Jenkins is getting paid significantly more, and this isn’t all that bad at all.

 

 

Re-Sign Jacquizz Rodgers, RB: 1 year, $760,000

Grade: A

Rodgers has shown the ability to be a fairly versatile rotational back. He flashes electric play-making ability with his short-area quickness.

Still, he’s never going to be a starter due to his diminutive frame. But at next to nothing, he’s more than worthy of a roster spot.

 

 

Re-Sign Nick Becton, OT: 1 year, $675,000

Grade: B+

Becton is 26 years old and didn’t play a down in 2015 but has ideal size for the position.

He was a former top high school recruit and possesses impressive athleticism to go with solid lateral movement.

It is generally believed that he’s capable of stepping in and providing quality snaps if the need arises, so signing him at the vet. minimum is a solid deal.

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