Five Free Agents Who Can Sign Bears To Fulfill The Biggest Needs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Bears training camp is just over three weeks away and the roster still needs to be strengthened in certain areas.
Several experienced free agents remain available as general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus opt to inject some talent into a young roster.
Given the bears’ reluctance to contact Akiem Hicks of rework a deal with Larry Ogunjobi, it is highly unlikely that Poland and Eberflus will dip their toes back into the free waters. The Bears want to carry over as much of their remaining pay cap as possible into the next low season, where they can spend a lot to adjust a subpar roster.
But if the Bears want to add anything to their roster, it will be short-term deals in key positions.
Since it’s July and we don’t have much else to discuss, here’s another free agent on any position of need that can probably be found for a low-risk short-term deal.
Target: Emmanuel Sanders
l discussed this possible addition expanded last week. Sanders makes the most sense for the Bears of all the remaining free-agent receivers.
The 35-year-old has experience in the Shanahan attack, would be a great mentor to Darnell Mooney and… Justin Fieldsand would give the Bears a familiar pass-catching option that could take the pressure off Mooney.
Sanders isn’t the greatest pass-catcher he’s ever been, but he can still be a solid No. 2 in a young team that needs more experienced voices in the locker room.
Target: Duane Brown
The attack position went from potential problem to five-alarm fire when Eberflus moved Bitches Jenkins to second team during minicamp and inserted fifth-round Braxton Jones when first team left the tackle.
Maybe it’s nothing, as Eberflus claims. But it smells like something.
Heading into a critical season for Fields, the Bears are currently looking to set up an offensive line with two solid NFL starters and three unknowns. sub-optimal.
Brown, 36, is no longer an elite NFL left tackle, but he is still a proven commodity that can bolster some of the Bears’ offensive line. Brown is coming off a season where he allowed eight sacks in 585 pass-blocking snaps, according to ProFootball Focus. Those eight sacks are as many as Brown allowed for the past four seasons combined.
Like Sanders, Brown would probably rather play for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, but it’s worth a phone call.
Target: Ereck Flowers
The remaining NFL guard pool is thin. Very, very thin.
Sam Mustipher will almost certainly be Bears’ Week 1 right guard after Dakota Dozier suffered an injury in the mini camp and went as an injured reserve.
But one possible option on the market is Ereck Flowers. Yes, that Ereck Flowers. Flowers struggled early in his career for the New York Giants as a left tackle, but a shift from inside to guard helped him revive his career.
In 2020, Flowers achieved a pass-block rating of 73.8 with the Miami Dolphins and allowed only 20 pressures in 539 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF. Last season with Washington, he had a mark of 78.1 and allowed 26 presses in 635 snaps.
Cody Whitehair is signed on as the Bears’ starting left guard. But if Flowers wants to give the right guard a shot, he can be a nice bargain swing to bolster the O-line depth.
Target: Justin Houston
We don’t know when or if Robert Quinn will show up. But if he doesn’t, the Bears’ edge-rusher rotation will look meager and will ask a lot of Trevis Gipson and Al-Quadin Muhammad.
Houston, 33, has experience playing for Eberflus. Houston was on the Colts defense line under Eberflus for two seasons, recording 19 sacks in two seasons in Indy.
Production, schedule fit and a respected voice make Houston a good match for the Bears.
If Quinn doesn’t want to fit in with the Bears this season, Houston should get a call from his former defensive coordinator.
Target: Sheldon Richardson
Justin Jones is the man in the middle for Matt Eberflus’ defense, with Mario Edwards Jr. behind him on the depth chart.
The Bears have high hopes for Jones, believing he has the speed to be an effective three-tech in Eberflus’ system.
But you can never have too much depth in the defensive line, and Richardson is a reliable veteran with experience in the NFC North.
Richardson has recorded at least 37 pressings and four sacks in each of the last four seasons. At 31, Richardson is in the back half of his career, but he’s still a solid defender and pass-rusher from the outback.
It wouldn’t be the worst use of money to add another skilled three-technique to lighten Jones’ burden.
Here’s a stat that probably means nothing: Richardson had seven pressures and one layoff in two games against the Green Bay Packers last season. It could be a dive into the waters of the free agent, wouldn’t it?