Bears general manager Ryan Pace

Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports

Emma: Bears' Quiet Week Is A Winning Luxury

For Ryan Pace, free agency means supporting what he has built.

Chris Emma
March 14, 2019 - 6:53 pm

(670 The Score) The teams you'll see written as the winners of free agency week include the Browns, the Raiders, the Jets, the 49ers and the Packers, each adding big-name players on lucrative contracts.

What do all those teams have in common? Not one of them was in the playoffs last season, and each has been forced into aggressive spending and trades.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace may not have enjoyed a Barbados vacation last weekend like Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but Pace does get to enjoy the luxury of a winner -- not stressing this week.

"It’s refreshing to look at the depth chart and not be overwhelmed by needs everywhere," Pace said in February.

Related: Bears free agency tracker

The Bears went 12-4 and won the NFC North in 2018 because of the way Pace built through the draft and filled voids in free agency during the previous four offseasons. He inherited a roster that was a mess in 2015 and now has a healthy organization poised to contend for at least the next several seasons. 

While the Packers have signed a haul of players at more than $180 million in contracts, the Bears simply did what they could to increase their chances at sustaining success.

Pace and the Bears stuck to their perceived market value on nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan and safety Adrian Amos, ultimately refusing to pay what they believed would be too much. They found cheaper alternatives in nickel Buster Skrine on a three-year, $16.5-million deal and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who signed a one-year, $3.5-million deal. 

The Bears signed running back Mike Davis to a two-year, $6-million deal, which gives them a better fit for coach Matt Nagy's offense -- and a potential feature back if they trade Jordan Howard. They also added a gadget on offense and answer on special teams by signing Cordarrelle Patterson to a two-year, $10-million deal.

The common theme with those signings is fit for the Bears' depth chart and scheme at low costs. What other theme to they share? The desire to dance in Club Dub.

"Chicago is a winning team," Skrine said. "And everybody in the NFL, that’s why you play. You play to win. To have a chance to play in the playoffs and go to the championship game.

"That's why I'm here." 

Added Patterson: "I want to be a part of that culture."

It's what Pace had envisioned for his team. Last March, two months after hiring Nagy, the Bears were one of those teams writing big numbers on checks and adding front-line players in free agency. They needed additions like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton -- and, eventually, Khalil Mack -- to strengthen what was already in place.

Pace built what became one of the better young rosters in the NFL, locking key players into contracts and opening a window for contention. Nagy and his coaching staff created a desirable culture that players can embrace.

True championship contenders are built through the draft and solidified in free agency. Pace can be happy with this week knowing his team already has taken that route.

The Bears were a winner before this week began.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​