Seven thoughts on the Bears’ first seven free-agent deals
With plenty money to spend in free agency, Bears general manager Ryan Pace didn’t disappoint.
Here’s a rundown of the seven deals the Bears reached with players during the first wave of free agency:
1. WR Allen Robinson — Committing a ton of money to a player who is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee is not ideal. But torn ACLs can be overcome. Chargers receiver Keenan Allen is the best example. Allen tore his ACL in the season-opener of of his fourth NFL season in 2016. Robinson, 24, did the same last season with the Jaguars. Allen, 25, bounced back in a big way for the Chargers in 2017, making 102 catches for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He also went to the Pro Bowl.
Want more? Even older receivers have recovered from ACL tears and played well. Former Packers receiver Jordy Nelson is an example. He missed all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016, he had 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.
2. TE Trey Burton — It’s OK to be skeptical about giving a big-time contract to a part-time player. Burton’s five touchdown catches last year for the Eagles stand out, but he only had 23 catches for 248 yards. The prediction here is that the Bears will say that Burton will benefit from more opportunities because he made the most of his limited amount of them with the Eagles. He was behind Zach Ertz in Philadelphia. Burton is a different tight end than Adam Shaheen, the Bears’ second-round pick last year. Expect Burton to fill the void left by Zach Miller.
But the Bears are paying Burton $8 million per season (the reported average of his four-year deal). He better be a star. He should be compared to Ertz and Chiefs Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce. According to spotrac.com, Burton’s yearly contract average trails only Ertz ($8.5 million), Rob Gronkowski ($9 million), Jordan Reed ($9.35 million) and Kelce ($9,368,400).
3. WR Taylor Gabriel — At 5-8 and 165 pounds, Gabriel fits the typical mold for slot receivers. But he’s more than that. He’s the speedster the Bears needed who has had success on the outside, too. Last year, ESPN analyst Matt Bowen ranked Gabriel as the ninth-fastest player in the NFL. Gabriel and running back Tarik Cohen might be diminutive in size but their speed and quickness will be interesting to see on the field together. Nagy will do it.
4. K Cody Parkey — The Bears still are searching for a replacement for kicker Robbie Gould nearly two full years after cutting him. Saying goodbye to Gould is arguably the Bears’ worst move under Pace.
5. CB Prince Amukamara — Stability. Reliability. Dependability. Whichever word you want to use, that’s why Amukamara was re-signed. He didn’t record an interception last season, but it’s obvious that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes him. Pace does, too, apparently.
Amukamara turned a one-year, $7 million deal last season with the Bears into a new three-year contract. Retaining him and cornerback Kyle Fuller keeps the Bears’ secondary intact with safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos. The Bears had the No. 7 pass defense in the NFL last season. Having continuity in the secondary will help with all changes in the front seven.
6. QB Chase Daniel — It made too much sense not to sign Daniel, 31. He played for Pace and the Saints, and he played for Nagy and the Chiefs. Mark Sanchez served his purpose last year with the Bears. He was the mentor that Mitch Trubisky needed as a rookie. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears add another young quarterback to their mix for training camp.
7. OLB Sam Acho — Similar to Amukamara, Acho clearly earned the trust of Fangio and Pace. His brother, Emmanuel, broke Acho’s news on Twitter, saying he got two-year deal, worth as much as $7.5 million from the Bears.
Acho is a solid run defender, a contributor on special teams and a team-first presence for the locker room. Adding more outside linebackers still is a priority, but Acho’s three sacks last year were his most since he had four with the Cardinals in 2012.