Bears general manager Ryan Pace

Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports

Bears Free Agency Reset: What's Next?

The Bears still have several areas of need to address one way or another.

Chris Emma
March 20, 2019 - 12:25 pm
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(670 The Score) The first wave of NFL free agency has all but subsided, and while many teams have been busy spending big, the Bears have taken a more calculated approach in adding pieces around their young core.

Given their limited cap resources available, the Bears were careful with their contracts, deferring guaranteed money into the second year of deals and bonuses. In doing so, they have maintained cap flexibility to retain many of the players who helped them to a 12-4 record and the NFC North crown in 2018.

Now, as the second wave of free agency is upon us, where do the Bears stand?

Cap room (per Over The Cap): $15.9 million

Who's new?

Mike Davis, 26, running back 

Deal: 2 years, $6 million ($1 million base in 2019; $2.95 million base in 2020)

In Davis, the Bears added a steady veteran presence to a running back position currently re-establishing itself. Davis could see the majority of carries early in the season if the Bears ultimately part ways with Jordan Howard this offseason.

Davis averaged 4.6 yards per carry and rushed for four touchdowns in Seattle last season while adding 34 receptions for 214 receiving yards and a score.

Related: Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary has Bears' curiosity

Cordarrelle Patterson, 26, receiver/return specialist

Deal: 2 years, $10 million ($2.5 million base in 2019; $4.15 million base in 2020)

The Bears finished dead last in kickoff return yardage at only 19.1 yards per return in 2018. They hope the answer to that problem is Patterson, who's second in NFL history with 30 yards per career kickoff return -- second only to the great Gale Sayers.

Patterson should give the Bears a major boost in special teams while also adding another gadget to coach Matt Nagy's offense, where the vision is for him to be a threat at both receiver and running back.

Buster Skrine, 29, nickel cornerback

Deal: 3 years, $16.6 million ($2.25 million base in 2019; $4.65 million in 2020; $4.15 million base in 2021)

The Bears had a priority to address at the nickel cornerback position with Bryce Callahan hitting free agency. Instead of moving to re-sign Callahan, they opted to sign Skrine, a player whom they've admired. 

Skrine joined the Bears on a cheaper deal than Callahan inked with the Broncos (three years, $21 million) while offering what they view has a similar performance level.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 26, safety

Deal: 1 year, $3.25 million ($2 million base in 2019)

The de facto safety trade between the Bears and Packers provided yet another interesting storyline for the first week of free agency. Green Bay signed Adrian Amos to a four-year, $37-million deal after he was a four-year starter in Chicago, while the Bears took a one-year flier on former Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix that includes only $2 million in base salary.

A first-round pick in 2014 and a Pro Bowl selection in 2016, Clinton-Dix hopes to re-establish himself as one of the game's better safeties. It's why he turned down more lucrative offers to join the Bears and their top-ranked scoring defense.

Ted Larsen, 31, offensive lineman

Deal: 1 year, $1.02 million ($930,000 base in 2019)

The Bears brought back a familiar face in Larsen, the veteran interior offensive lineman who was with the team in 2016. Larsen brings stability on the depth chart and a fierce edge.

Ben Braunecker, 25, tight end

Deal: 2 years, $2.7 million ($750,000 base in 2019; $1.35 million base in 2020)

Braunecker joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and could now see an increased role in the Bears' offense moving forward while continuing to serve on special teams.

Pat O'Donnell, 28, punter

Deal: 2 years, $4 million (per ESPN's Adam Schefter)

There's one fewer special teams void to fill after the Bears retained O'Donnell, their sixth-round pick in 2014. O'Donnell has averaged 44.9 yards per punt over 80 regular-season games across the last five years and averaged 45 yards per punt in 2018.

Marvin Hall, 25, receiver

Deal: 1 year, $645,000 base (Bonuses unknown)

The Bears added depth at receiver and perhaps in the return game too by signing Hall, who will be counted on to add speed to Nagy's offense.

Nick Williams, 29, defensive tackle

Deal: 1 year (Salary details unknown)

The 310-pound Williams offers the Bears more depth on the defensive line. He played in just one game last season.

Who's gone?

Cody Parkey, 27, kicker -- Unsigned free agent

Deal: $3.5 million remaining guaranteed from the Bears

The start of the new league year brought the end of an error for the Bears, who released Parkey after one season of a four-year deal signed last March. Parkey was paid out the remaining $3.5 million guaranteed from the contract that owed him $9 million guaranteed in total. He remains an unsigned free agent.

Meanwhile, the Bears have signed two kickers in Redford Jones and Chris Blewitt -- and could add another in free agency or the draft.

Adrian Amos, 25, safety -- Green Bay Packers

Deal: 4 years, $37 million ($1.25 million base in 2019; $1.75 million base in 2020; $4.9 million base in 2021; $7 million base in 2022)

Seeing a fifth-round pick in Amos earn a big contract in free agency was an example of superb talent evaluation by the Bears, but they weren't willing to pay him the market value he found in Green Bay. The Bears had ample opportunity to lock in Amos during his final season in Chicago, but it became more clear as time went on that there was a a significant difference in the desired prices between the Bears and Amos' party.

Amos will be considered a key piece to the Packers defense after getting his money. The Bears opted for a different route after the safety market paid out big, taking in Clinton-Dix on a one-year discount and hoping they can circle back with a long-term solution in 2020 -- either with Clinton-Dix, a different free agent or a draft pick.

Bryce Callahan, 27, nickel cornerback -- Denver Broncos

Deal: 3 years, $21 million ($2.5 million base in 2019; $3 million base in 2020; $6.5 million base in 2021)

Like Amos, Callahan could've been locked into a long-term deal with the Bears if they desired. While he emerged as one of the league's top nickel cornerbacks in 2018, there were concerns over Callahan's durability.

The Bears agreed to a deal with Skrine on the first day of open negotiations, quickly closing the door on retaining Callahan. Instead, Callahan landed with his former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now head coach of the Broncos, and will play under former Chicago defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, now defensive coordinator in Denver.

Eric Kush, 29, offensive lineman -- Cleveland Browns

Deal: 2 years, $3.75 million ($1.1 million base in 2019; $1.8 million in 2020)

The Bears essentially traded veteran depth on the interior offensive line by bringing in Larsen in place of Kush, who could start for the Browns after they dealt Kevin Zeitler to the Giants.

Josh Bellamy, 29, receiver -- New York Jets

Deal: 2 years, $5 million ($930,000 base in 2019; $2.25 million base in 2020)

One of the longest-tenured Bears until his exit, Bellamy joined new Jets coach Adam Gase and new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who both previously worked in Chicago.

The Bears filled Bellamy's place with additions like Patterson and Hall, who should do fine in adding depth at receiver and in special teams.

Daniel Brown, 26, tight end -- New York Jets

Deal: 1 year (Salary details unknown)

Still active on the market for tight ends, the Bears had interest in retaining Brown, but he was desired more elsewhere. Brown visited the Lions before signing with the Jets.

The Bears could still add a tight end, though it would have to be a player who can contribute on special teams the way Brown did.

What's next?

The Bears will look to continue filling depth on the current 90-man roster with additions in the coming weeks. Among the biggest priorities is outside linebacker, which has seen its market begin to pick up this week.

Veteran Aaron Lynch is visiting with the Colts in Indianapolis on Wednesday, a source said. The Bears are still interested in re-signing Lynch, but there are other teams involved. 

The Bears appear comfortable letting Lynch explore his market value with other teams before they make a commitment on a pass rusher. Four-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Justin Houston also remains an unrestricted free agent and could be an option for the Bears. 

However, Houston is 30 and missed 21 games over the last four seasons before being released by the Chiefs. He has been productive when healthy, posting 18.5 sacks in 27 games in the past two years.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​