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Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears’ free-agent moves, the future and more

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) returns an interception of Bears quarterback Mike Glennon in a 35-14 Packers victory at Lambeau Field in 2017. The Bears signed Clinton-Dix to a one-year contract in free agency Thursday. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Mark Potash breaks down the Bears’ first wave of free-agent moves and looks ahead to the work they have left to do:

Ryan Pace’s free-agent spending has been …

Cost-efficient. Pace has overpaid in free agency, whether it’s reaching (Pernell McPhee) or filling needs (Trey Burton). With a solid roster, he got more value than you normally get in free agency and filled key holes at nickel and safety while still leaving room for inevitable extensions to keep the core intact.

My favorite move thus far has been …

Cordarrelle Patterson. It’s almost a free roll of the dice for Pace — Patterson’s exact role is undefined, but he has intriguing upside in Matt Nagy’s offense. The Patriots’ inventiveness with Patterson showed off his versatility and Nagy is the right guy to take it a step further.

How should the Bears fix their kicker issue?

Ryan Pace was an Executive of the Year candidate and he can’t figure it out, so it’s unlikely that any of us amateurs have a better idea. But I would keep an eye on veteran Stephen Gostkowski, who remains unsigned. Pace’s cost-efficiency in this year’s free agent market could leave him room to splurge where he might not have expected to.


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What will the Bears do with Jordan Howard?

Though the Bears almost certainly will draft a back who is a better fit for Nagy’s offense, Howard still is worth more to the Bears on their roster than as trade bait. They likely will trade him, but probably should keep him around. It’s not like he’s unproductive in this offense, just not a perfect fit.

What is the Bears’ most overlooked area of need?

Depth at edge rusher. The Bears are solid with Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd as starters, but with Aaron Lynch a free agent they have little NFL production behind the starters — though Isaiah Irving looks promising in this defense.

Have the Bears given Mitch Trubisky enough help?

Their above-average offensive line returns intact. They spent significant money to sign wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton and traded up for a second round pick to get Anthony Miller. They hired Matt Nagy. They plan to upgrade a two-time 1,000-yard running back. If Trubisky doesn’t make it, it’s not because of his support system.

Are the Bears better today than they were the day the season ended?

The Bears did a good job of at least diminishing their key losses — Chuck Pagano for Vic Fangio; Buster Skrine for Bryce Callahan; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for Adrian Amos. And an undrafted free agent likely will be an upgrade over Cody Parkey’s 2018 season. When you consider the immense amount of internal growth they should expect from their roster full of under-30 playmakers, only injuries should keep the Bears from having a better roster in 2019.