Patrick Finley: Analyzing the Bears’ flurry of free-agent agreements
The Bears made a big splash on the second day of “legal tampering” in NFL free agency Tuesday, agreeing to terms with wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, slot receiver Taylor Gabriel and placekicker Cody Parkey. You can check out full updates on the past two days here.
Sun-Times Bears expert Patrick Finley — along with colleagues Adam Jahns and Mark Potash — take a look at how the Bears did and what impact it might make on the 2018 season:
Allen Robinson over Sammy Watkins?
The Bears probably would have been thrilled with either Robinson or Watkins, the former Rams speedster who agreed to sign with the Chiefs. Here’s why I like Robinson better: he averaged 9.1 career targets per game before tearing his knee. Watkins has averaged 6.6 in his career. The Bears needed a workhorse receiver, and they got one.
Passing-game problem solved?
Heck no. They need at least one more receiver, be it through free agency or the draft — and that’s presuming that Cam Meredith returns on his original-round tender and is the same player. They need someone in the middle of the line to protect Mitch Trubisky, their most pricy investment. And they need the entire offense to learn a new scheme. Still, there’s a lot more to like about their passing attack today than there was on Dec. 31.
An underrated need is …
Backup quarterback. In a thin free-agent class, the Bears needed to focus on high-end talent to fill starting roles. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing more important than surrounding Trubisky with a veteran leader, or two, who can help set the tone for the quarterback room.
The Bears can’t fix this in free agency …
Edge rusher. The free agent candidates have considerable flaws, and the draft doesn’t present a perfect fit at No. 8 overall.
The Bears should be excited about …
A modern offense. The Bears have never been mistaken for Air Coryell — Brees has 12 seasons better than the Bears’ single-season passing yards record — but Nagy now has a few weapons. Maybe p-a-s-s won’t be a four-letter word at Soldier Field anymore.
Did Ryan Pace get his big signings right?
We won’t know any time soon. But successfully recruiting top-end free agents — Robinson and Burton were each among the top two available at their position — is an improvement over last year’s debacle.