It’s that time of year again. Four teams are duking it out for a bid to the Super Bowl while Chicago Bears fans are stuck reading article about what free agents should be brought back. Chin up, times are changing and there’s plenty to be excited about.
Newly hired head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace have their hands full in terms of free agents. The Bears have 20 unrestricted free agents and five restricted. Lots of decisions to be made.
To make things easier, we will be breaking the free agents into four categories: special teams (six players), offense (7), defense (7) and restricted (5). Each section will have its own article.
These articles aren’t going to try and predict the specifics in terms of length and amount of the contracts, just simply if the players are re-signed (in) or let go (out).
Zach Miller, TE
The Bears fan base rallied around Miller after his gruesome leg injury he suffered against the New Orleans Saints. His leg was so mangled that there was a strong possibility that it might have to be amputated. Luckily, doctors were able to save it. The odds of Miller being able to play football again aren’t that great and the chances of him being ready at the start of the 2018 season are incredibly slim. It would be great to see the Bears bring Miller back in some capacity, but no way it’s as a player.
Mark Sanchez, QB
The Bears third-string quarterback all season didn’t dress for a single game, but was one of the most important players on the team. Sanchez was brought in to groom rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, similarly to what he did with the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott last season. Anytime Trubisky was on the sideline, Sanchez was in his ear constantly teaching him. The Bears would be dumb to let Sanchez walk.
Tom Compton, OL
A-jack-of-all-trades, Compton played all over the line this season. His main stays where are guard filling in for both Josh Sitton and Kyle Long. Compton was on the field for 342 snaps and had one, lone penalty called against him, an illegal block above the waist. He is a solid rotational player and at 28-years-old, it would be wise for the Bears to bring him back.
Bradley Sowell, OL
Much like Compton, Sowell was shifted all throughout the line, kind of a plug-and-chug type of player. Unlike Compton, Sowell had a problem with penalties. With nearly 50 less snaps (297), he was penalized four more times: three false starts, two unnecessary roughness calls and an illegal formation. He has the old school, mean offensive lineman mentality, which can be good, but his temper has killed drives. While the talent is there, the Bears could find someone better to fill his role.
Benny Cunningham, RB
Cunningham didn’t get a whole lot of playing time. He saw less snaps than Tanner Gentry, Deonte Thompson, who was let go after Week 5, and Markus Wheaton. Despite that, he was still effective, coming up big multiple times on third down. He only had nine rushes, but caught 20 passes for 240 yards. He was brought in to be a punt and kick returner, but with the addition of both Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson, he saw that role diminish. For the right price, I think Chicago would bring him back, but odds are he’s gone.
Dontrelle Inman, WR
It was very obvious that Trubisky needed help, he needed weapons and Inman was the Bears’ answer. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Inman came over from the Los Angeles Chargers for free. The bad news is Inman didn’t perform well enough to live up to the seventh-round conditional pick expectation. He needed 25 receptions, and fell two receptions short. With 334 yards, he finished fourth on the team in receiving. He seemed to have good chemistry with Trubisky and did well enough to earn a spot next season.
Kendall Wright, WR
Wright was the Bears’ leading receiver in 2017 and if history is to repeat itself, that means he’s on his way out of The Windy City. However, I don’t think a No. 1 receiver with 59 receptions and 614 yards is high on anyone’s list. Wright was a tough grade this season. Sometimes he would explode for big games, i.e. the Cincinnati Bengals game, while other times he was non-existent, like the Philadelphia Eagles game. One thing he does have on his resumé, similarly to Inman, is chemistry with Trubisky, which is extremely important for a young quarterback. Wright and Inman will be great players to round out a receivers room.
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