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Bears Wise to Pass on Malik Jackson

| March 11th, 2016

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Right up until it was reported Malik Jackson was signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bears were considered a favorite to sign the former Bronco. But the Bears were right. At $15 million person for the man widely regarded as the top free agent on the market, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.

Don’t get me wrong, Jackson is among the very best in the league at what he does. Turn on the AFC Championship Game and you’ll see why he got paid. So much of the focus was on Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware but the Patriots felt the need to double Jackson on nearly every passing play. When they didn’t, he pushed the guard back into Brady. It was a dominating performance.

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Dannehy’s Free Agency Tiers: Franchise Players

| February 10th, 2016

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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.

Franchise Players

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.

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Across the Middle with Andrew Dannehy (Featuring a Q & A With Jeff Risdon)

| February 3rd, 2016

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• The fact that John Fox had a large say in drafting the roster and that he and his staff were responsible for developing the defensive talent on the Broncos should make you feel good. A lot has been written about them signing free agents from the Broncos, but they’re just as likely to try to draft the next Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall or Malik Jackson.

• The one thing to take from the playoffs as it pertains to the Bears is they just need more great players. Look at the big plays that have been made throughout the playoffs, they’ve typically come from each team’s best player. The Bears don’t have those guys. Getting them is the first step. The next step is getting them to play their best on the big stage.

• It’s too early to get overly excited about what the Bears “need” when it comes to the draft. A lot will change between now and then. As of this time last year, you wouldn’t have guessed the Bears would be taking Kevin White with the seventh pick with the duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Hell, you maybe didn’t even know who Kevin White was.

• Draft hype is too crazy right now. Noah Spence went from being a fringe first-round pick at best to being mocked in the top 10. He’s a talented player but he was going against a bunch of untalented offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl. That doesn’t tell us anything.

After the jump is a Q&A I did with Jeff Risdon. Risdon is an NFL and NFL Draft Writer at RealGM, an analyst for Draft Breakdown, works on air at ESPN 961 and is the editor for SideLionReport. He spent last week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. He’s also Lions fan, but at least he’s not a Packers fan.

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Words of Caution as Free Agency Commences…

| March 8th, 2015

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Tuesday free agency officially opens and the Chicago Bears will have the opportunity to purchase some on-field human talent. They have a dangerous combination when it comes to March in the NFL: money to spend & many roster holes. But for new GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, prudence is the name of the game. (It would also be the name of the worst-selling board game in the history of Toys R Us.)

STAY AWAY FROM THE THIRTY MARK

Teams signing free agents over the age of 30 should be one or two players away from making a realistic run for a championship. The Bears are not one or two players away from making a realistic run to the grocery store. Someone mentioned to me on Twitter that he believed the 2015 Bears have a puncher’s chance to win the NFC North. They do, if the punch is landed squarely on the ACL of Aaron Rodgers.

The Bears have struggled to field two competent safeties since the partnership of Mike Brown and Tony Parrish dissolved. 2014 did not feature many standout performances in the secondary but one promising development was Ryan Mundy looking capable. Does this mean Mundy should be a starter in September? Not necessarily. But it might mean the Bears can win with Mundy on the field. And that is something I never thought I’d write.

Devin McCourty (28 when next season starts) is the crown jewel of this class. In a division with Aaron Rodgers having a safety with McCourty’s cover skills is not only an advantage but a necessity. Rahim Moore (25) is still entrenched in my mind for making one of the worst defensive plays in the history of the sport but he’s turned into a versatile safety who may have his best football ahead of him. (And John Fox would know far better than me.) Da’Norris Searcy (26) plays with the aggression of a box safety and is well-equipped to handle physical tight ends and slot receivers.

With the draft light at safety, look for the Bears to be focused on the position. And none of these men mentioned above would hit the 30 mark until (at earliest) the third year of their four-year contract.

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Bears Must Add Defensive Starter in Free Agency

| March 6th, 2014

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I am not for spending sprees in NFL free agency. More often than not the more money spent by an organization in March, the more time they end up spending in the salary cap penalty box for years to come. But Phil Emery’s execution a year ago – landing Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett and Matt Slauson – proved to me the Bears GM knows how to approach the veteran flea market and add the right pieces at the right prices. (Pay too much for the starting left tackle, save a boat load on the starting left guard.)

But this offseason, coming off one of the worst defensive years in Bears history, Emery must attack that side of the ball. That starts Wednesday with free agency and runs right up through the signing of undrafted free agents in May. Emery must be aggressive, must believe that while injuries were greatly responsible for the downfall they were not the only element of culpability. The players on the roster were not good enough. Simply bringing them back is not an option.

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Open Debate: How Would You Approach the Top NFL Free Agents for 2014?

| February 19th, 2014

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Chris Wesserling at NFL.com listed his top twenty-five NFL free agents for this off-season. Here is that list, with all of the offensive players removed:

2. Greg HardyCarolina Panthers defensive end
3. Brian OrakpoWashington Redskins linebacker
4. Jairus ByrdBuffalo Bills safety
5. T.J. WardCleveland Browns safety
6. Alterraun VernerTennessee Titans cornerback
8. Michael JohnsonCincinnati Bengals defensive end
9. Lamarr HoustonOakland Raiders defensive end
10. Brent GrimesMiami Dolphins cornerback
12. Vontae DavisIndianapolis Colts cornerback
13. Linval JosephNew York Giants defensive tackle
14. Jason HatcherDallas Cowboys defensive tackle
16. Aqib TalibNew England Patriots cornerback
17. Dominique Rodgers-CromartieDenver Broncos cornerback
20. Michael BennettSeattle Seahawks defensive end
21. B.J. RajiGreen Bay Packers defensive tackle
22. Sam ShieldsGreen Bay Packers cornerback
23. Walter ThurmondSeattle Seahawks cornerback
24. Donald ButlerSan Diego Chargers linebacker
25. Randy StarksMiami Dolphins defensive tackle

Today we are bringing back the Open Debates of yesteryear. Put yourselves in Phil Emery’s shoes. How would you approach this list? Would you target anyone specifically? Would you stay away from anyone specifically?

My answer…?

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