Note: thanks to Butch for the cool new header picture
Free agency is settling down, so now is a good time to take a look at where the Bears’ roster currently stands. This will give us a better idea of what minor free agency moves should still be made and where the draft attention should focus for the first few rounds.
Let’s start with a rough depth chart, followed by a few quick thoughts. This is just my estimate of what a depth chart could look like, don’t read too much into details like Roy Robertson-Harris being above Jonathan Bullard, or anything like that.
Reflections, in no particular order:
- The Bears currently have 65 players under contract. They’re scheduled for 7 draft picks, and will likely sign a few more cheap veterans, but there’s going to be plenty of room to fill out the roster with undrafted free agents after the draft. Expect them to bring in at least 15 of them, and thus it’s no surprise that they’ve been meeting with several players projected as possible UDFA targets, including Jonah Trinnaman and Jarvion Franklin.
- You can see that Ryan Pace has generally fulfilled his stated free agency goal of entering the draft without being forced to grab somebody at a certain position because of need. There’s no spot on the roster where the Bears are completely barren, though there are a few positions that could use another player ready to contribute already.
- This is no surprise, but those positions are guard (or center if Cody Whitehair moves to guard) and outside linebacker. I feel much better about Eric Kush as the top backup than the starter, and Sam Acho needs to be the 4th or 5th OLB, not 3rd. I still think that re-signing Lamarr Houston would be a good idea, and may be an option if the draft doesn’t fall the way they like at OLB.
- The Bears recently shored up depth at RB and G by signing cheap veterans in Benny Cunningham and Earl Watford, respectively. Two more positions that would make sense for them to look for before the draft include ILB and DL. Somebody like Watford-a cheap veteran who is a bad starter or solid backup but has starting experience-would be ideal at inside linebacker, and they need a defensive lineman who can be an end-of-the-rotation guy so their main players don’t play too many snaps and wear down like Akiem Hicks did last year.
- A third roster spot that could use some veteran insurance is at safety, where the starting duo of Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos is solid, but there’s not much behind them in the way of experience. Every safety currently on the roster is a draft pick playing on their rookie deal, so a player with more experience to compete for depth would be ideal.
- This is random, but ILB Jerrell Freeman is no longer listed on the Bears’ official roster, so it seems he’s officially been cut. A few weeks ago that was not the case, even though the media had reported he would be cut. The Bears probably waited until he could pass a physical. It sounds like Freeman had serious head injuries, so I’m guessing he retires, and I hope he is able to get the medical attention he needs.