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Pertinent Off-Season Dates

| February 16th, 2018

Full disclosure: I rarely visit ChicagoBears.com. It used to be a vital site for post-game pressers and game highlights but there are literally dozens of better locations for both of those things now, especially the former, which now go directly from the cell phones of media members to the fans in a matter of seconds.

But in January, the site’s lead writer Larry Mayer posted a collection of pertinent off-season dates and that is something I’m constantly searching for this time of year. Here they are:

February 20: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

February 27-March 5: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.

March 6: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March 12-14: Beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) on March 7, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 player contracts. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 3 p.m. (CT), on March 14.

March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must exercise options for 2018 on all players who have option clauses in their 2017 contracts.

March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.

March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2017 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.

March 14: Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2018 salary cap prior to 3 p.m. (CT).

March 14: All 2017 player contracts will expire at 3 p.m. (CT)

March 14: The 2018 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m. (CT).

See the rest of the year’s dates after the jump…

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Ranking the Bears Positions of Needs as Legal Tampering Begins Monday

| March 4th, 2016

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The Bears have needs. Many needs. So I’ve decided to apply a point value to those needs. 0 points would mean the Bears have absolutely no need to address this position during free agency. 10 points would mean the Bears are in trouble come 2016 if they don’t make a significant move. Here are the rankings, with a single sentence of rationale for each.

9.2 Defensive Line

Yes, Eddie Goldman looked like a long-term contributor for the Bears up front, but this unit was the least explosive on the entirety of the roster in 2015.

8.3 Inside Linebacker

McClellin, Timu and Anderson each had moments last season but the Bears need a true run-stuffing thumper in the middle of their defense.

8.1 Offensive Line

With so much talent available in the middle of the line (Mack, Boone, Incognito) the Bears would be doing their run game in 2016 a tremendous disservice by entering the season with so many question marks along the line.

8.0 Tight End

If Martellus Bennett is truly headed out the door (as the whole world is reporting) the Bears not only need to sign Zach Miller but also pair him with another player to threaten the middle of the field.

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With Free Agency Only Ten Days Away…

| February 29th, 2016

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Here are five thoughts on the Bears possible approach.

(1) Go get Eric Weddle. Why?

  • Antrel Rolle is shot and has been for some time. (Even when he wasn’t shot, he couldn’t cover anybody.)
  • Weddle may come with a significant yearly price tag but at thirty-one years old the length of the contract will most likely be tolerable.
  • Weddle can bring toughness, versatility and leadership to a secondary desperate for all three.
  • Adrian Amos already has the best secondary coach in the NFL. Line up Weddle beside him and you’ll see his development expedited.

(2) The Bears targeted Pernell McPhee quickly a year ago and landed their man. Would they do so again? Yes. Because adding Malik Jackson to their defensive line will turn around their poor rush defense almost immediately. There’s concern, of course, because paying defensive linemen has bitten several clubs in the ass. But you have to spend all that cap space somewhere, don’t you?

(3) The Bears should go into 2016 with Charles Leno and Kyle Long as their starting tackles. Both showed enough a year ago to warrant another season at those positions. But don’t be surprised if they look to free agency for a tough presence in the middle of the line. Is Alex Boone a great guard? No. But he’s got some badass in him. And he shouldn’t be too expensive.

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The Free Agency Notebook: Day 1

| March 11th, 2015

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IN BEARS LAND…

  • Antrel Rolle is not a great player anymore…and I’m not sure he ever was a great player. He was an alarming liability in coverage last year for the Giants. But the second he signs with the Bears he’ll improve the safety position and he is also one of the most accountable leaders in the league. (He also does a weekly radio show in NYC and delivers brutally honest assessments of his defense’s play.) The Bears shouldn’t be relying on his services two or three years down the road but he is someone who can make a few plays short-term.
  • Eddie Royal excites me. Royal is a perfect complementary receiver for Alshon Jeffery and his history with Jay Cutler will lead to an immediate comfort zone. Royal has been one of my favorites for years.
  • J.T. Thomas received a nice contract from the New York Giants. I wrote this about Thomas in August of 2013: “JT Thomas is one of those players who jumps off the preseason screen. But the numbers game does not work in his favor. Williams, Anderson, Briggs, Costanzo, Bostic and Greene are on this roster. Thomas is a long shot but if I’m the Bears I find him a role on specials and let him make plays.”

THE THREE BLOCKBUSTER TRADES

  • My first thought when Jay Glazer reported the Seahawks had acquired Jimmy Graham from the Saints was if they had him a few months ago they don’t throw that moronic slant route and lose the Super Bowl. I have issues with Russell Wilson’s accuracy from the pocket but guess what, it doesn’t matter now. If he puts the ball within three yards of Graham’s head it’ll be caught. Can’t imagine a scenario wherein the Seahawks don’t open the season as favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

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