The key moves through the early hours of pre-free agency were not the phone calls made by the Bears — they have had exploratory contacts with myriad players ranging from Seattle’s Michael Bennett to Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson and beyond — but moves made by teams to re-sign their own players, thereby shrinking the market and pool of talent worth free-agent investments in multi-year contracts.
And some of the most significant actions are happening right in the NFC North, with obvious implications for the Bears.
The Green Bay Packers brought back cornerback Sam Shields with a four-year deal worth potentially $39 million, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Cornerback is near the top of the Bears’ need list, although with Tim Jennings re-signed, one expectation is that the second starter will come from a deep draft in which projections are that starter-grade corners will be there in the second round.
The Minnesota Vikings took defensive end Everson Griffen off the market with a five-year deal worth $42.5 million, according to different reports. The clear statement is that the Vikings are not bringing back Jared Allen at anything close to his previous contract level.