The Chicago Bears entered free agency with a lot of promise. Russell Wilson was reportedly on the trade block, and the Bears were expected to be major players.
However, the Bears ultimately failed to trade for Wilson or to a lesser extent Deshaun Watson, and they ended up signing Andy Dalton. Talk about a downgrade. Dalton played as a backup for the Dallas Cowboys last year, but his numbers weren’t anything to be excited about.
It’s more than likely that the Mitchell Trubisky era in Chicago is over, and thus the Bears were desperate for a new quarterback. However, desperation doesn’t always lead to success as Bears fans found out the hard way.
Free agency still isn’t done, and the Bears will still look to add a few more pieces before they gear up for the 2021-22 NFL Season. The failed Russell Wilson trade is going to linger in the back of their minds for a long time, but it’s something they’ll need to get over fast.
Former Cowboys’ QB Andy Dalton is signing a one-year, $10 million deal, with the chance to earn another $3 million in incentives, with the Chicago Bears, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2021
Who Did The Chicago Bears Sign In Free Agency 2021?
The Bears did not have a lot of cap space to work with coming into the free agency period this year. In fact, they had nothing. Coming into this period, they were almost $22 million under the cap.
As a result, the Bears were able to manipulate the contracts of Eddie Jackson, Kahlil Mack, and Cody Whitehair as they restructured their base salaries into signing bonuses. This move freed up about $23 million in cap space.
However, the Bears still had very little to work with, and thus, the Bears were not big players in the free agency market. Here’s a short list of all the moves they’ve made so far:
- Re-Signed offensive lineman German Ifedi: One year deal worth $5 million with a base salary of $4.25 million
- Re-Signed kicker Cairo Santos: Five year deal worth up to $17.5 million, last two years are voided so it works out to more like a three year $9 million deal
- Franchise tagged star wide receiver Allen Robinson: Guarantees Robinson $17.89 million if he chooses to play on the tag
- Re-Signed Defensive Lineman Mario Edwards: Three year deal worth $11.66 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed, and a $3.62 million signing bonus
- Re-Signed Punter Patrick O’Donnell: One year extension with the money still undisclosed
- Signed quarterback Andy Dalton: One year $10 million prove-it contract
No major contracts were given out, and the Bears were largely inactive in pursuing major free agents. One big free agent they did go after was offensive lineman Trent Williams. Ultimately, the 49ers were able to offer him a record breaking six year $138 million deal which the Bears could not match. Painful.
From Russell Wilson & Trent Williams to Andy Dalton & Germain Ifedi! #Bears
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) March 17, 2021
Who Else Can the Bears Go After & Who Should Chicago Look To Add?
Despite not having money, there are still several valuable discount players the Bears can target. For one, they could choose to shore up receiving depth.
Although the Bears still have Robinson, Mooney, and Miller, there’s no harm in taking a chance on a low-risk player like Chris Conley from the Jaguars or former Ravens slot receiver Willie Snead. There are reports that the Bears are looking to trade Anthony Miller away, and in that event, it becomes even more pertinent that the Bears find a solid replacement.
The Bears could also target a box safety. Eddie Jackson likes to play free safety more, and that’s where his skills are best utilized. Jackson is a ball hawk. He has tremendous range, and loves to play farther out. However, the lack of a capable box safety has relegated him to that role.
The Bears do have Teshaun Gipson who can fill the box safety role well, but the Bears could look to upgrade by bringing in someone cheaper. For example, Karl Joseph of the Las Vegas Raiders or Bradley McDougald of the Jets could be perfect signings.
Another option could be to add running back depth by maybe bringing in someone like Brian Hill from the Atlanta Falcons.
What Did The Bears Offer Seattle For Russell Wilson?
The Russell Wilson situation will be looked at as a failure no matter what. No matter how hard the Bears front office would have tried, this offseason will go down as a failure.
However, the Bears put themselves in this position years ago. Drafting Trubisky, overpaying for Nick Foles, and questionable coaching decisions have all brought this failure of an offseason together. The Bears’ stellar defense always kept them in games and as a result, they were never bad enough to finish with a high draft pick either.
The Kahlil Mack trade already stripped them of a first round pick, and last year’s playoff berth was more of a disappointment than something to celebrate.
Now, the Bears are tied down to another bad-to-average quarterback for another year at least. According to reports, the Bears threw three first round picks, two starters, and a third round pick at Seattle, but it was still no good.
Yes, the Bears threw everything they could at trying to acquire Russell Wilson. The Seahawks didn’t budge.
According to @dpshow, an offer was three first-round picks, a third and two starters.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) March 17, 2021
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2021
What Can the Chicago Bears Expect From Andy Dalton In the 2021-22 NFL Season Next Year?
As for Andy Dalton, the Bears shouldn’t expect much. Dalton used to be a Pro Bowler back in his prime with the Cincinnati Bengals, but those “Red Rifle” days are long gone. Dalton went 4-5 as the Cowboys’ backup last year..
In those 9 games, he averaged 197.3 yards per game, and threw 14 touchdowns to 8 interceptions with a 64.9 completion percentage (actually a career high). Thus, the Bears aren’t as bad off as it may seem. Dalton’s signing is greatly overshadowed by the failed Russell Wilson signing, but that doesn’t mean this is a bad deal.
Dalton’s contract is only for one year, and the Bears are “only” paying him $10 million. For a “prove-it” kind of contract, that isn’t bad at all.
Dalton showed last year that he can be a decent backup, but that’s his ceiling. A backup, and nothing more. Other free agent options included Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor, but they would have been temporary stopgaps as well.
For now, Bears fans shouldn’t have high hopes for next year. The Bears offense can be great if Dalton finds a way to go back to his olden days, but that’s probably not something we should expect from the 33 year old. All in all, if the Bears do tank and finish with a bad record next year, maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world?
The Bears would finally have a high draft pick which they could either use on another quarterback in the draft, or they could use it to deal for another disgruntled superstar in the future.