The Bears’ free agent priority was Mike Glennon, and it conveniently worked in their favor when either other teams cooled on him, or he made it clear to anyone else interested that the quarterback was most interested in coming here. That’s how Glennon himself made it sound during Friday’s introductory press conference. But now, we can only wait to see how good he is, and the impact he can make with the other acquired pieces so far in free agency, as well as next month’s draft.
Glennon was the “splash” signing, whether Bears fans want to splash along or not. Perhaps eventually we’ll see if a couple of the defensive backs (safety Quintin Demps and cornerback Marcus Cooper) they signed, who combined for ten interceptions last season make a greater level of immediate impact. But as Ryan Pace has invested in depth and competition that stays out of the bright free agency lights, there was some interesting maneuvering going on amongst the three teams the Bears are chasing in the NFC North. And wouldn’t you know it within the old “Black and Blue” division, the star movers and shakers were….offensive linemen. The Vikings and Lions desperately needed help, and the Packers now need some as the movement in the trenches has made for an interesting watch.
Green Bay: Last year’s rare, and much-needed, investment in free agency seemed to pay off when Jared Cook’s incredible catch on Aaron Rodgers’ incredible pass in Dallas set up a dramatic, game-winning field goal that punched the Pack’s ticket to the NFC title game. But just when it seemed the tight end earned a new deal at a position Green Bay had been searching to fill for a few years, GM Ted Thompson doubled-down. Former Bear Martellus Bennett popped up in a Packers hat on social media late Friday afternoon and tweeted out cheese emojis after agreeing to a three-year, $21 million deal.
🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀!— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) March 11, 2017
It’s flexible enough for the team to escape in 2018 if Marty’s outside interests are too much in Titletown after winning a title in New England. Then, Thompson added depth there by signing Rams tight end Lance Kendricks on Saturday.
But while Julius Peppers and defensive back Micah Hyde hit the road Thursday (to Carolina and Buffalo, respectively), Rodgers’ protection took a hit. They wanted Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang back, but he signed a three-year deal with Detroit Sunday. That came after center JC Tretter bolted for Cleveland, in the wake of releasing current Bear Josh Sitton in the final cutdown last September for fear of what he’d be asking in free agency. Tretter and Corey Linsley had spent the last couple of seasons not being able to clearly step up to seize that job by the throat. That, now, apparently belongs to Linsley by default. Lane Taylor held down Sitton’s old job last year, and it’s a stronger draft for guards than tackles. The Packers jumped ahead of the Bears to select Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs in the draft’s second round last year, but it’s unlikely he’ll be asked to move inside despite helping out there in an emergency last season. Current tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari signed contract extensions within the past two years. And while Mike McCarthy’s spoken of a running back tandem of Ty Montgomery and Eddie Lacy, the latter paid a visit to the Vikings this weekend.
Minnesota: Speaking of the Vikes, they needed to open the wallet at offensive tackle after getting ravaged by injury last season, and with the position being so weak in the draft. One of those injured was ex-first-round pick Matt Kalil, who needed a bounceback season after his play was on a steady decline since a Pro Bowl rookie campaign. But they allowed him to join his brother in Carolina and instead raided the Panthers for starter Mike Remmers. And just as Minnesota had tired of Kalil, the Lions felt the same about Riley Reiff. The Vikings viewed him as an upgrade and brought him aboard (this is getting to sound a bit incestuous, isn’t it?).
Those have been the Vikes’ only additions, while seeing if Adrian Peterson will accept returning at much cheaper rate as he continues visiting suitors. Returner/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson visited the Bears over the weekend and also has interest from the Colts.
In the meantime, the People in Purple have lost some depth. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (Carolina), and linebackers Audie Cole (Jacksonville) and Chad Greenway (retirement) are gone from the defensive side. Wideout Charles Johnson (Carolina) and tight end Rhett Ellison (New York Giants) have departed on the other side, while punter Jeff Locke went to Indy.
Detroit: If, indeed, the Bears were interested in Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner, they lost out to the Lions. He’ll become a nice bookend with last year’s first round pick, Taylor Decker, to keep Matthew Stafford protected. They allowed former third-round guard Larry Warford to sign with the Saints. With Lang now aboard as well, 2015 first-rounder Laken Tomlinson will try to earn his draft value in a battle for the other guard spot with third-rounder Graham Glasgow (like Tomlinson, a Chicago-area guy), who moved into a starter’s role as a rookie last season. Now, all the Lions need to get a semblance of a running game going (28th or lower the last three years) is having Ameer Abdullah stay healthy.
The Lions also tired of waiting for former tackling machine DeAndre Levy to get healthy after two injury-wasted seasons and let him go, replacing him with Paul Worrilow. The former Falcon fell behind the youth and speed movement in Atlanta, but went from undrafted rookie in 2013 to fifth in the league in tackles a year later. The other four Motown additions into Sunday night were former Illini Akeem Spence, who’ll look to start along the defensive line, former Bears D-lineman Cornelius Washington, ex-Raiders first-round corner D.J. Hayden and tight end David Fells, a blocker to use opposite Eric Ebron.