Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune runs through the list of Bears free agents . I have some thoughts on a few of these.
“Wide receiver (2): Dontrelle Inman: Is a fourth option in a quality passing attack. Made more than three catches in only three games.
Kendall Wright: Highly productive in final month of the season and could be a fit for new coaching staff but in a perfect world he’s the No. 3 and that has been the problem with the offense the last couple of years. The Bears have had wide receivers overslotted.”
I’d like to see both of these men brought back on reasonable deals.
Inman seemed to my eye to come on at the end of the season and he had 5 catches for 94 yards (18.8 yds/reception) in the last game against the Vikings.
It’s probably true that Wright probably is a #3 receiver but that made him the best receiver on the team whis year. He has a knack for getting open.
Having said that, Wright didn’t seem to do too well with the Titans after Dowell Loggains left Tennessee. He blamed this on no longer being able to improvise with his pass routes.
Wright reunited with Loggains this year and had success but now that Loggains is gone there’s no guarantee that Wright’s career won’t collapse again as it did the last time that happened. A lot will likely depend upon new head coach Matt Nagy’s willingness and ability to adapt to Wright’s style.
“Defensive line (2): John Jenkins: A fill-in on the line, he played sparingly in eight games. Could return as depth but would have to compete for roster spot.
Mitch Unrein: At 30, he had his best season with 32 tackles and 2½ sacks before a season-ending knee injury. Smart, dependable performer has trust of defensive coaches, and that matters.”
Unrein is a no brainer. Solid starter who can be depended upon to set the edge and stop the run. Not all defensive linemen need to be mad pass rushers in a 3-4.
It’s true that Jenkins didn’t play much but that’s because nose tackle Eddie Goldman stayed relatively healthy. When Goldman exited the line up with an injury in 2016, the Bears had no depth behind him and it showed.
The bet here is that either Jenkins is resigned to play the same role as Goldman’s back up or someone else is (or both).
“Cornerback (3): Prince Amukamara: Didn’t get the type of multiyear contract he was seeking in free agency so he signed a $7 million, one-year deal. Hard to see him getting the big money deal he sought after this past season but he was dependable and has value as a No. 2 starter.
Kyle Fuller: Contract season brought out what was far and away the best season for the former first-round draft pick. Bears likely will need to tag him to prevent him from at least exploring the open market, and he will be in upper tier of available cornerbacks meaning he should command north of $10 million per year.
Sherrick McManis: Led the team in point production for special teams players despite missing three games with a hamstring injury. He will seek another multi-year deal after finishing two-year contract. If Bears cannot re-sign him they need to find a special teams ace.”
It’s still a mystery to me why so many teams decided to throw at Fuller rather than Amukamara this year. It made sense at the beginning of the year but even after it became apparent that Fuller was having a career year, teams continued to throw to his side.
It’s possible that as good as Fuller played, most teams prefered to stay away from Amukamara because, despite appearances, they still considered him to be the better corner. And to my eye, there were certainly times when he did look very good simply in terms of staying with receivers.
If I’m general manager Ryan Pace and I can get Amukamura again under nearly the same contract terms, maybe even for more than one year, I do it.