Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com notes the difference in free agency for the Bears this year compared to last year.
Last year the Bears signed a lot of players to one year “prove it” deals because they had a lot of needs to fill. The Bears signed 16 unrestricted free agents and 13 were one year deals. Essentially, as Arkush points out, the Bears were piling in bodies.
This year is different.
“[Bears general manager Ryan] Pace has taken a 180-degree turn in his approach to free agency. While it is far from over, to date Pace has inked just four players from other teams, all to multi-year deals, all immediately added to the depth chart as starters and all are hoped to be core players over the next three or four seasons or more.”
However, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the team has arrived. They’ve still got a lot of holes to fill and the draft won’t fill them all.
The guess here is that the Bears aren’t done offering one year deals to veterans to plug holes. The time simply hasn’t arrived yet to start signing them. Eventually, probably after the draft, the Bears are going to have to start signing depth and they’ll still have one or two starting positions up for grabs for those players.
Like Arkush, I like what the Bears are doing. But they’re a year or two away from the point where they’ll have mostly the players they want in place at every position a couple guys deep. When they are, we’ll know that they’re ready to consistently compete.