The Bears showed last year they weren’t afraid to spend in free agency and the expectation is that they will again. The Denver Broncos are coming off of a Super Bowl win largely because of the contributions of free agents DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Emmanuel Sanders. The Bears have over $50 million to spend in free agency and could have close to $70 million after cuts.
Here is part one of a three-part series examining potential targets on the free agency market.
This is a small list because great players don’t reach free agency very often. In fact, it’s unlikely any of these three players will make it, but until they’re officially not available, they have to be on the list. These are the guys a team can build their defense around. Of course the con for all of them is the price, but you pay a premium for premium players.
Von Miller, LB, Denver
Pros: Miller is one of the best defensive players in the league. As he showed in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl, Miller can completely dominate with the best combination of speed and power in the league.
Cons: It’s going to be hard for the Bears to justify the kind of contract Miller is going to demand, while trying to build the rest of their defense. (Miller is going to get around $20 million per year.) Between his and Jay Cutler’s contracts, the Bears would have over 20 percent of their salary cap space tied up into two players. Teams who have done that haven’t been very successful.
Mo Wilkerson, DE, NY Jets
Pros: If he weren’t playing in the same era as J.J. Watt, Wilkerson would be known as the best defensive lineman in the league. He’s a beast against the run and has had 10 or more sacks in two of the last three years. He has also deflected 12 passes at the line of scrimmage the last two seasons. He’ll still only be 26 when next season begins.
Cons: Like with Miller, it might be hard for the Bears to justify the contract. If Wilkerson is in the $15 million per season range, it’s worth pursuing. Above that, there might be better value elsewhere. And historically, it’s hard to tell what will happen to a defensive lineman when he gets a big contract.
Eric Berry, S, Kansas City
Pros: One of the best safeties in the league, with range and tackling ability, Berry would give the Bears one of the best duos in the league with Adrian Amos. Seems like he’s been around forever, but he’s only 27 years old.
Cons: Contracts for safeties have gotten out of control in recent years and Berry is likely going to be the highest-paid player at the position in the league. He might be worth it but having a great safety doesn’t do a team much good if they don’t have anything in front of him.