Analyzing the Bears’ signings, cuts and roster moves this offseason:
Bears sign two. Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and outside linebacker Isaiah Irving, who were exclusive rights free agents, signed on Monday. The Bears were never in danger of losing either player, as their exclusive rights designation dictated. Robertson-Harris had three sacks and played in all 16 games last season, while Irving had one sack in 13 games.
Another kicker. The Bears added a third kicker without NFL experience, signing Elliott Fry to a three-year deal. A South Carolina alum, Fry kicked in the Alliance of American Football this year. He’ll join Chris Blewitt and Redford Jones in the team’s kicker derby.
Coward returns. The Bears re-signed Rashaad Coward, who was an exclusive rights free agent. The team first signed Coward out of Old Dominion to play defensive line. He appeared in one game there in 2017. After the season, they moved him to offensive tackle and were pleased by his development.
Scales back. The Bears are re-signing long snapper Patrick Scales to a one- year deal, sources confirmed Tuesday. Scales appeared in all 16 games last year, and also in 2016. He and punter/holder Pat O’Donnell will work with a series of placekicker candidates to try to fix an area in which the Bears struggled last year.
Cunningham leaves. Benny Cunningham, the Bears’ backup running back and close confidant to Tarik Cohen, signed a one-year deal with the Jaguars. Cunningham ran only 14 times in two years with the Bears and might best be remembered for fumbling at the pylon in a 2017 loss to the Packers.
Thank you to the entire Bears organization and the amazing city of Chicago for allowing me to call the Windy City home for 2 years! I appreciate the love and will cherish the memories for… https://t.co/67KgHbgJSH— Benny Cunningham (@BennyCunningham) April 3, 2019
Lynch re-signs. The Bears landed their situational pass-rusher Monday — and he’s the same as their old one. They re-signed Aaron Lynch to back up starters Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack. He’ll play for them on his second-straight one-year deal.
DHC returns. The Bears re-signed safety DeAndre Houston-Carson to a one-year deal. He began the offseason as a restricted free agent, but became free to sign elsewhere once the team decided not to offer him a tender. Houston-Carson played 61.2 percent of the Bears’ special teams snaps, third-most on the team.
Howard dealt. The Bears traded running back Jordan Howard to the Eagles for sixth-round pick in 2020. The pick can improve to a fifth-rounder if Howard meets certain performance goals. On Friday, Howard said goodbye to the Bears and their fans on social media.
Witzmann joins the Browns. Witzmann, who started seven games at right guard when the Bears’ Kyle Long was injured last year, signed with the Browns on Friday. His return to the Bears seemed unlikely when the team signed Ted Larsen last week to be their primary backup guard and center.
Bray back. The Bears’ quarterback room figures to look the same in 2019. The team re-signed Tyler Bray, the third string quarterback who did not play a snap for them last year, to a one-year deal. Bray spent time on the practice squad last year before being promoted to the game-day roster when Mitch Trubisky hurt his shoulder. Bray, who played for coach Matt Nagy in Kansas City, was originally signed last year to help tutor Trubisky in the new offense.
‘Mega Punt’ to stay. Punter Pat O’Donnell agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract on Monday night, sources confirmed, marking the second time in as many years he’s signed on to return to a Bears team that drafted him. O’Donnell signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal last offseason, at the end of the four-year rookie contract he signed when then-general manager Phil Emery drafted him in the sixth round in 2014.
Brown joins Gang Green. Tight end Daniel Brown, who spent the last two-and-a-half years with the Bears, signed a one-year deal with the Jets. He finished his Bears career with 29 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown. The Bears re-signed another tight end and special teamer, Ben Braunecker, earlier this month. They still need a blocking tight end.
Callahan heading to the Broncos. Cornerback Bryce Callahan will rejoin former Bears defensive coordinator in Denver. He’ll get $21 million, with $10 million guaranteed, over three years, per ESPN. The Bears moved on from Callahan on Tuesday, when they agreed to a three-year deal with former Jets slot cornerback Buster Skrine. Callahan will play for Fangio and his former defensive backs coach, Ed Donatell, who was named the Broncos’ defensive coordinator.
Kevin White signs. The Bears’ former No. 7 overall pick, signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. He thanked the Bears on Instagram, writing that “it didn’t turn out how we wanted but it taught me more lessons than success could have ever did.”
Bears sign a special teamer. The Bears signed wideout Marvin Hall to a one-year deal. Hall played 24 games over the past two years with the Falcons, appearing in 46 percent of their special teams snaps last year and 15 percent the year before. He has 12 career catches for 209 yards.
Williams returns. The Bears re-signed defensive tackle Nick Williams to a one-year deal. He played two years with the Bears last week — in Week 1 and Week 9. Williams provides depth behind a defense line rotation that is already set, with Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard.
White goes to the desert. Receiver Kevin White, the Bears’ disappointing No. 7 overall pick from the 2015 draft, is expected to sign with the Cardinals, according to NFL Network. White wasn’t expected to return to the Bears, who turned down his fifth-year rookie option. Playing out the final year of his contract, White caught only four passes for 92 yards in 2018 — though one was a 54-yard Hail Mary that fell one yard short of the end zone. The oft-injured White was a healthy scratch down the stretch and appeared in only nine games.
Bears land their safety. The Bears are signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will replace Adrian Amos as their starting safety. Clinton-Dix played three-and-a-half seasons with the Packers, earning a Pro Bowl bid, before being traded to the Redskins at last year’s deadline. He’ll play along friend and former Alabama teammate Eddie Jackson.
Kush to Cleveland. Eric Kush, who started 11 games for the Bears at guard the last two seasons, has signed with the Browns. He seemed likely to leave once the Bears announced the Ted Larsen signing Wednesday.
Excited to announce signing with the Cleveland Browns. Can’t wait to be apart of this City and get to work for Cleveland!!! pic.twitter.com/eYWpB2FQxw— Eric Kush (@EricKush64) March 14, 2019
Bears make it official. The team announced the signings of cornerback Buster Skrine, running back Mike Davis and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, pending a physical. The team agreed to deals with Skrine and Davis on Monday and Patterson on Tuesday.
Bears keep three. Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris was among the three exclusive rights free agents to whom the Bears issued a contract tender, keeping them on the team for next year. The other two: outside linebacker Isaiah Irving and offensive tackle Rashaad Coward. The Bears converted Coward from defensive line to offensive line last year, and were pleased with his progress.
Parkey’s gone. The Bears cut kicker Cody Parkey on Wednesday afternoon, as they said they would. General manager Ryan Pace said last month the team planned to release him at the start of the league year, which began at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Parkey missed eight field goals and three extra points in his only year with the team — including, most notoriously, a 43-yard double-doink miss that would have beaten the Eagles in the playoffs.
Bears don’t tender two. The Bears didn’t tender either safety DeAndre Houston-Carson or long snapper Patrick Scales, making both a free agent. They could circle back to both players — Houston-Carson was a respected special-teamer and Scales has been their snapper the last two years. The full list of Bears free agents: TE Daniel Brown, FB Michael Burton, CB Bryce Callahan, RB Benny Cunningham, G Eric Kush, OLB Aaron Lynch, P Pat O’Donnell, WR Kevin White, CB Marcus Williams, DT Nick Williams and G Bryan Witzmann.
Larsen comes back. At the start of the league year, the Bears announced they were signing Ted Larsen to a one-year deal. He’ll compete to be their backup guard and center. The feisty veteran spent 2016 with the Bears before playing 2017 and 2018 under former Bears offensive staffers, including former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and former Dolphins coordinator Dowell Loggains.
Bell to the Jets. When the Bears cleared cap space this week, fans were hoping for a home-run swing from general manager Ryan Pace. Cross the biggest name off the list: Le’Veon Bell, the former Steelers running back, said Tuesday night he was signing with the Jets. Bell, who sat out last season rather than play under the franchise tag, will make $52.5 million over four years, per the NFL Network.
A new return man. The Bears agreed to sign Cordarrelle Patterson, the Patriots’ kick return star, to a two-year contract worth $10 million. Patterson torched the Bears when the two teams met last year, returning a kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown in a game the Bears lost by seven. A receiver by trade, he contributed at running back for the Patriots this season. He’ll be an intriguing chess piece for Matt Nagy’s creative offense.
New #Bears WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson's two-year deal includes a $2 million signing bonus. Total guarantee is $5 million. It has per-game roster bonuses for 2019 and 2020.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) March 13, 2019
Amos with Cheese. The Bears are losing starting safety Adrian Amos to the Packers — he’ll make $37 million over four years, with $12 million guaranteed. A starter for four years, Amos was considered a solid, if not spectacular, contributor on the Bears’ back end. The team must now finding his replacement, cognizant that it will have to pay fellow safety Eddie Jackson a large extension at this time next year. Earl Thomas, the former Seahawks safety, is the biggest name left on the market.
Former #Bears safety Adrian Amos' four-year deal with the Packers includes an $11 million signing bonus. Total guarantee is $12 million. It's full of roster bonuses and has Pro Bowl escalators starting in 2020.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) March 13, 2019
Moving more money around. The Bears created $11 million in camp space when they converted $13 million of Khalil Mack’s salary and roster bonus into a signing bonus, according to ESPN. The move had been considered a possibility for months — the Bears reworked deals for Kyle Long and Eddie Goldman to create space. Whether the Bears intend to spend that money on the top end of the talent pool or not, they have additional salary cap flexibility.
Bellamy goes to New York. One of the longest-tenured Bears is headed to the Jets. Wide receiver Josh Bellamy, who first joined the Bears in 2014, will be joining Gang Green, a source confirmed. He’ll make $2.75 million guaranteed and as much as $7 million over two years, a source said. Bellamy caught at least 14 passes and one score in each of the last four seasons and was considered one of the Bears’ top special teams players. He played only 57.7 percent of the Bears’ special teams snaps last year, though, in part because he was needed at wideout.
Buster move. The Bears are signing former Jets cornerback Buster Skrine for three years and $16.5 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed, per NFL Network. Skrine will be the Bears’ starting slot cornerback, taking the place of Bryce Callahan, who figures to sign elsewhere. Before the Bears played the Jets this season, coach Matt Nagy heaped praise on the 29 year-old. “He’s one of the better nickels in this league, if not the best,” Nagy said. “I mean, he’s good. He’s a good nickel in there.”
Bears add a running back. The Bears are signing former Seahawks running back Mike Davis, as first reported by NFL Network. He was drafted in the fourth round by the 49ers in 2015. He finally broke out last season, gaining 514 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 112 carries for the Seahawks. He also caught 34 passes for 214 yards and a score.
Braunecker back. The Bears are re-signing tight end tight end Ben Braunecker to a two-year deal, the team said Monday. A restricted free agent, Braunecker played 56 percent of the Bears’ special teams snaps last year. He caught three passes for 42 yards, too. Bringing back Braunecker will not dissuade the Bears from pursuing a blocking tight end; the Harvard alum is considered more of a pass-catcher.
More salary cap maneuvering. To help free up $2.25 million in cap space, the Bears converted nose tackle Eddie Goldman’s roster bonus into a signing bonus, according to Field Yates of ESPN. The move pushes the Bears’ cap space to $19.6 million.
Chris Blewitt enters the kicker competition. The Bears signed their second unproven kicker of the offseason when they added Chris Blewitt, a former Pitt kicker who had been unable to gain traction in the NFL. By the time Blewitt graduated college in 2016, he was Pitt’s all-time leader with 363 points scored by a kicker, 55 field goals and 198 PATs.
Bears cut OLB Sam Acho. The Bears freed up $2.1 million in camp space by cutting the veteran outside linebacker, who started 25 games over four years. Before tearing his pec last season, Acho was the Bears’ fourth outside linebacker — behind Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch.
Bears rework G Kyle Long’s contract. The Bears reworked Long’s contract, freeing up about $2 million in cap space for the offseason and guaranteeing his return next season. With Long back, the Bears will return all five starting offensive linemen — center Cody Whitehair, guards James Daniels and Long, and tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie — to next year’s team.
Bears to release Cody Parkey. A source confirmed last month that the Bears intended to cut kicker Cody Parkey, who missed eight field goals and three extra points in his only year with the team, when the league year begins Wednesday. General manager Ryan Pace confirmed the move at the NFL Scouting Combine, listing the traits he desired in a new kicker. Chief among them: leg strength to cut through the wind and cold at Soldier Field. Parkey will be cut with a post-June 1 designation, moving more than $1 million of his cap hit to 2020.
Bears cut TE Dion Sims. By releasing the blocking tight end, the Bears saved $6 million in cap space for the upcoming season. Signed to a three-year deal in 2017, Sims caught only 15 passes in his first year with the team, and two last year. The team is expected to pursue a veteran tight end who can block at the line of scrimmage. Their two top tight ends, Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, are primarily pass-catchers.
Bobby Massie signs contract extension. Rather than test free agency, the Bears’ starting right tackle agreed to a four-year contract extension. He’ll make $14.5 million guaranteed and as much as $30.8 million total. Massie has been solid during his three years in a Bears uniform.
Redford Jones gets a chance. After holding a kicker tryout at Halas Hall, the Bears agreed to sign Jones, who made 50-of-67 field goals at Tulsa from 2015-17 but did not kick for a pro team last year.