The Chicago Bears finished last in the NFC North Division and third worst in the entire league for a reason. They didn’t have as much talent as other teams to begin with and then suffered injuries that doomed them to the bottom.
General manager Ryan Pace has shown that he has a plan and is not afraid to make a bold move in order to make it happen. These plans have the future in mind more than the present.
Whether or not the moves made by the Bears were the right ones won’t be determined this season. Here are the five best moves and the worst one made by the Chicago Bears since the end of the regular season.
#1. Overhauling the quarterback position
Jay Cutler was not working. They had to move him and away from his contract. Pace also let Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley sign elsewhere. Connor Shaw was re-signed, but he was and should remain fourth on the depth chart.
In replacing Cutler, Hoyer and Barkley, Pace signed a relatively unproven young signal caller with upside, drafted a quarterback in the first round and signed a veteran with a history of playing in conference championship games.
Mike Glennon will get the first crack at the starting job, Mike Sanchez will be his backup and Mitch Trubisky will learn behind them. If Glennon doesn’t pan out, they can get out from it relatively easily. If he does, they have a trade chip when Trubisky is ready to take over.
It does not hurt to have two options at quarterback in today’s NFL, but one needs to step up to become the team’s leader.
#2. Signing Quintin Demps
Demps was one of the better safeties on the market this offseason. He helps fill a big need in the secondary. The Bears were a little better at safety than cornerback last season, but finding a free safety was a must. Demps should start at free safety opposite Adrian Amos - both were among the league’s top safeties last season. Adding Demps, who has gradually improved in each of the last six seasons, solidifies the backend of the secondary.
#3. Re-signing Chris Prosinski
Bringing Prosinski back is a move that flew under the radar. Prosinski is not a star nor a starter on defense, but the reserve safety had to be brought back. He performed well when called upon at safety, but really proves his worth on special teams. The journeyman is a versatile special teams player that made Pro Football Focus’ best punt return team. The Bears had a lot of holes to fill, but keeping Prosinski kept them from having one more.
#4. Letting Alshon Jeffery leave
Jeffery is one of the most talented wide receivers in league, but they are better off without him. In the locker room he may have been fine or a good teammate, but from afar it has not felt like he wanted to be a member of the Bears. Jeffery had contract disputes and lackluster performances on the field over the last few seasons.
The Bears are now beginning a rebuild, even if no one will admit it. Getting Jeffery off the roster may be an addition by subtraction, even if it means that the wide receiver group is less talented.
#5. Signing Prince Amukamara
The collection of cornerbacks the Bears threw out on the field last season were atrocious. None of them would have started for any other team in the league. Amukamara, a 27-year-old former first round draft pick, hasn’t been a shutdown corner throughout his career, but has been decent enough to remain a starter. He also poses as a big upgrade over the returning corners. There isn’t as much upside anymore for the six-year veteran, but his experience and decent play in previous seasons is a welcomed addition.
The Worst: Keeping the status quo at offensive tackle
Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and right tackle Bobby Massie were among the worst tackle tandems in the league last season, surprisingly not the worst in the division, but still really bad. Neither would have started for other teams in the league.
Yet, Pace ignored the position. In free agency, the player has to want to sign with the Bears, which could have been the reason they did not sign a starter. They failed to draft one or show a want to improve the duo. The Bears had the opportunity to take one of the top tackles when the draft process began (Cam Robinson) early in the second round, but chose to trade down, which became a conscious effort when the team moved a couple picks to move up one spot to take Trubisky in the first round, and took a big project tight end. Adam Shaheen looks like a potential star, but Robinson could have been an immediate plug-and-play draft pick that would have improved the offensive line.