Bears Insider

Five free agents Bears can sign to fill biggest areas of need

Bears Insider
Justin Houston, Aaron Rodgers

Bears training camp is a little over three weeks away, and the roster still needs to be fortified in certain areas.

Several veteran free agents remain available should general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus opt to inject some talent into a young roster.

Given the Bears' unwillingness to reach out to Akiem Hicks or rework a deal with Larry Ogunjobi, it's highly unlikely Poles and Eberflus dip their toes back into the free-agent waters. The Bears want to roll as much of their remaining salary cap space over to next offseason, where they can spend big to retool a subpar roster.

But if the Bears do look to add to their roster, it'll be on short-term deals at key positions of need.

Since it's July and we don't have much else to discuss, here's one remaining free agent at each position of need who likely can be had on a low-risk, short-term deal.

Wide Receiver

Target: Emmanuel Sanders

I discussed this potential addition in-depth last week. Sanders makes the most sense for the Bears of all the remaining free-agent receivers.

The 35-year-old has experience in the Shanahan offense, would be a great mentor for Darnell Mooney and Justin Fields, and would give the Bears a trusted pass-catching option who can take the pressure off Mooney.

Sanders isn't the top-tier pass-catcher he once was, but he can still be a solid No. 2 on a young team that needs more veteran voices in the locker room.

 

Offensive Tackle

Target: Duane Brown

The offensive tackle position went from potential issue to five-alarm fire when Eberflus moved Teven Jenkins to the second team during minicamp and inserted fifth-round draft pick Braxton Jones as the first-team left tackle.

Maybe it's nothing, as Eberflus claims. But it smells like something.

Heading into a critical season for Fields, the Bears currently plan to trot out an offensive line with two solid NFL starters and three unknowns. Suboptimal.

Brown, 36, is no longer an elite NFL left tackle, but he's still a proven commodity who can solidify part of the Bears' offensive line. Brown is coming off a season in which he allowed eight sacks in 585 pass-blocking snaps, per ProFootball Focus. Those eight sacks are as many as Brown allowed in the previous four seasons combined.

Like Sanders, Brown probably would prefer to play for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, but it's worth a phone call.

Guard

Target: Ereck Flowers

The remaining NFL guard pool is thin. Very, very thin.

Sam Mustipher almost certainly will be the Bears' Week 1 right guard after Dakota Dozier suffered an injury in minicamp and went on injured reserve.

But one potential option on the market is Ereck Flowers. Yes, that Ereck Flowers. Flowers struggled as a left tackle early in his career for the New York Giants, but a shift inside to guard helped him revitalize his career.

In 2020 with the Miami Dolphins, Flowers notched a pass-block rating of 73.8 and allowed only 20 pressures in 539 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF. Last season with Washington, he had a grade of 78.1 and allowed 26 pressures in 635 snaps.

Cody Whitehair is penciled in as the Bears' starting left guard. But if Flowers is willing to give right guard a shot, he could be a nice bargain swing to bolster the O-line depth.

Edge rusher

Target: Justin Houston

We don't know when or if Robert Quinn is going to show up. But, if he doesn't, the Bears' edge-rusher rotation looks thin and will ask a lot of Trevis Gipson and Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Houston, 33, has experience playing for Eberflus. Houston lined up as the Colts' left defensive end for two seasons under Eberflus, recording 19 sacks in two seasons in Indy.

Production, scheme fit, and a respected voice make Houston a nice fit for the Bears.

If Quinn doesn't want to suit up for the Bears this season, Houston should get a phone call from his former defensive coordinator.

Three-Technique

Target: Sheldon Richardson

Justin Jones is the man in the middle for Matt Eberflus' defense, with Mario Edwards Jr. slotting in behind him on the depth chart.

The Bears have high hopes for Jones, believing he has the quickness to be an effective three-technique in Eberflus' system.

But you can never have too much depth on the defensive line, and Richardson is a reliable veteran with experience in the NFC North.

Richardson has recorded at least 37 pressures and four sacks in each of the last four seasons. At 31, Richardson is in the back half of his career, but he still is a solid run defender and pass-rusher from the interior.

 

Adding another veteran three-technique to lighten Jones' load wouldn't be the worst use of money.

Here's a stat that probably means nothing: Richardson had seven pressures and one sack in two games against the Green Bay Packers last season. Could be worth a dive into the free-agent waters, no?

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