Bears free-agency analysis: Ryan Pace overhauls secondary

Bears free-agency analysis: Ryan Pace overhauls secondary

This is the third in a series analyzing the Bears' decision-making during the 2017 free-agency period.

From 3/13: Bears free agency analysis: Alshon Jeffery non-deal left an understandable void

From 3/14: Bears free-agency analysis: Offseason OL pattern holds with Tom Compton

When the Bears opted out of the spiraling bidding for free agents at two of their critical-need positions — cornerback, safety — the obvious reason was that the prices for A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore at corner and safety Tony Jefferson, the reason was simple: The "whoa" factor.
 
"I guess I should say nothing surprises me anymore," GM Ryan Pace said, then laughed, "but there's a handful of things that you're like, ‘Whoa!'" 
 
Amid the aftershocks of one of the most aggressive Bears starts in their history with free agency — six new players signed in the span of less than 48 hours — is the conclusion that the Bears correctly took passes on players on whom a knee-jerk market was overheating, even allowing for a higher salary cap, and simultaneously upgraded primary need positions.
 
The Bears wanted additions at cornerback. They were linked to Gilmore and Bouye, who were signed by the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars to five-year deals worth $65 million and $67.5 million, contracts for a one-time Pro Bowl alternate (Gilmore) from a pass defense ranked in the 20's (Buffalo, 2015-16), and for a one-year starter (Bouye) with 19 career starts. The guaranteed money for Gilmore reached $40 million, and $26 million for Bouye.

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The packages exceeded the ones for the likes of Janoris Jenkins and Aqib Talib and approach the ranges for Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman.
 
Prince Amukamara has had health issues, but is on a prove-it deal at one-year, $7 million. Marcus Cooper projects as an upgrade over Kyle Fuller in the latter's current diminished state, and his three-year deal averages $5.3-million-per, for a starter with 4 interceptions and 11 pass breakups last season in 13 starts.
 
And Pace was clear that the draft always factors into free-agency.
 
Quintin Demps represents an upgrade at safety, with a player who netted 6 interceptions last season as a member of the Houston Texans secondary along with Bouye. At age 32 Demps might better be viewed as a veteran bridge in the deep middle that has been a black hole since the better days of Mike Brown.
 
With the No. 3 and 36 picks of the draft, the Bears are expected to address the secondary with players that their personnel evaluators view with greater upside than what the spiraling dollars of free agency could offer a team building for a future.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

5'11" | 203 lbs.

2016 stats:

98 receptions, 1,730 yards, 17 TD

Projection:

Third round

Scouting Report:

"Slot-only receiver with the athleticism and separation quickness to win on the NFL level. Benefitted statistically from Western Kentucky's scheme, but that offense benefitted from Taylor's ability to get open and his explosiveness in the open field. High floor with the potential to be an above-average slot receiver in an offense that recognizes his flexibility." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Auburn DL Montravius Adams

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Auburn DL Montravius Adams

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn

6'4" | 304 lbs.

2016 stats:

43 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, INT, 2 FR

Projection:

Second-to-third round

Scouting Report:

"Adams disappointed the scouting community with a pedestrian junior season that lacked passion and production. This season, he played with greater consistency of effort and found his way into the backfield far more often. Can be disruptive off the snap but is not the type of player to recover quickly if beaten early in the rep. He is a rotational defensive tackle for gap-attack defenses, but is unlikely to offer much as a pass rusher." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles