Mark Potash: Breaking down Bears’ biggest free-agent issues

Everything needs a hashtag these days.

How about #GrinninforGlennon? #MGforMe?

As Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon and the Bears inch closer to an agreement, fans aren’t exactly racing to Tweet the best catchphrase. But with Brian Hoyer heading to the 49ers, a deal with Glennon seems likely at the start at free agency Thursday at 3 p.m.

Mark Potash break downs that and other Bears free agency issues:

The Jay Cutler era with the Bears appears to be all but over. The question is: who will replace him? (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

(For colleague Adam L. Jahns’ answers, click here).

Is Glennon really worth more than Jay Cutler?

POTASH: That’s not a fair comparison. On paper or on the field, Jay Cutler is a much more accomplished, better quarterback than Mike Glennon. But the team dynamic impacts the equation — Cutler has run his course in Chicago. He’s worth more to another team than he is to the Bears.

Did the Bears play their hand properly with Alshon Jeffery?

POTASH: This is the Alshon Jeffery paradox in a nutshell: The Bears either are letting go of a player they cannot replace; or they would be paying top dollar for a player who missed seven games in 2015 and four for suspension in 2016. It’s like Ryan Pace can’t win. But if you’re going to overpay for Mike Glennon — or almost anybody — you might want to overpay for Alshon Jeffery first. The upside makes it a worthwhile risk.

The Bears’ greatest area of need is:

POTASH: Besides quarterback of course … upgrading the secondary, particularly at safety. The Bears’ fairly well established front seven figures to take a step forward in its third year under Vic Fangio, which will help the back end. But a dynamic safety can accelerate that progress rather than settle for being the beneficiary.

An overrated area of need is:

POTASH: Cornerback. While it’s hard to get excited about the Bears’ young safeties — though you can’t give up on Deon Bush just yet — the Bears young cornerbacks have potential to become playmakers: Bryce Callahan, Deiondre Hall and Cre’Von LeBlanc are at the top of that list. Hall in particular has intriguing size and skills, but did not get a real chance to show what he can do. If he learns well and stays healthy, he could become a cornerstone in the secondary.

The Bears will succeed in free agency if:

POTASH: They get the quarterback right. You can miss in a lot of areas if you hit a home run at that position. Ryan Pace either has to find his guy, who set up a wide open competition in camp that allows a Connor Shaw or drafted rookie to win the job. Anything in between could be disastrous.

The Bears will fail in free agency if:

POTASH: They spend money just because they have it. Ryan Pace has to think long-term as well as short-term with these contracts, because he’ll presumably need that cap space as his own developing players reach the point where they have to get paid.

I would sign:

POTASH: Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears. He’s proven. He’s familiar with the Bears. He makes any quarterback better. He’s a team captain. And when he plays, he’s worth every penny. Worth the  risk of over-paying.


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