Bears

Chicago Bears Free-Agent Focus: Vic Beasley

Chicago Bears Free-Agent Focus: Vic Beasley

Finding a good pass rusher is really, really hard. That's why the Chicago Bears jumped at the opportunity to trade for Khalil Mack prior to the 2018 season regardless of the then-Oakland Raiders asking price. Two first-round picks (and then some) seemed like a small price to pay for a player who's a virtual lock for double-digit sacks every season (sans 2019, when the entire defense regressed).

Look at the failed experiment that is Leonard Floyd, for example. The Bears spent a first-rounder on him, too. Instead of a trade, it was Chicago's actual first pick of the 2016 draft (No. 9 overall). Floyd's been an absolute failure as a pass rusher, totaling just 18.5 sacks in four seasons including a career-low three in 2019. His failure to emerge will force the Bears to the free-agent market this offseason in an effort to find a player capable of complementing Mack's generational talent.

RELATED: Predicting 6 moves the Bears will make this offseason

One name who could offer that pass-rushing upside while not commanding a massive payday is former Atlanta Falcon, Vic Beasley. The Falcons confirmed on February 3 that they won't be re-signing their 2015 first-round pick after a career that wasn't too dissimilar to what Floyd's experienced in Chicago: mostly a letdown.

The difference between Beasley and Floyd, however, is Beasley has shown a pulse as an edge rusher. He led the NFL in sacks in 2016 with 15.5, and he enjoyed a solid season with eight sacks in 2019. The problem with Beasley is that his other three seasons with the Falcons consisted of no more than five sacks in any one of them. He's a true boom-or-bust player who seems destined for a one-year deal this offseason, which sets up perfectly for the Bears.

Chicago doesn't have the kind of salary-cap flexibility where they can make a big push for Jaguars star defender Yannick Ngakoue. Instead, they have to find a player with a tarnished resume like Beasley, who many teams will dismiss as a one-year wonder and a guy who is more of a clean-up pass rusher than a real pressure player.

According to Spotrac, Beasley's market value will be around $7.3 million per season. If that holds true, the Bears could sign Beasley for nearly half the cost of Floyd's pricetag in 2020. Seems like a no-brainer.

Chicago's defense is its biggest strength right now, but it can be even stronger with a complementary pass-rusher for Mack in 2020 and beyond. The beyond part could come via the NFL draft, but if the Bears want to be one of the most ferocious defenses in the league next season, they need to add a secondary sack artist this offseason. Maybe it's Beasley, if the price is right.

Bears 17, Packers 13: Whose arrows are up and down after spoiling Favre's retirement

Bears 17, Packers 13: Whose arrows are up and down after spoiling Favre's retirement

Well, that probably felt good. 

The Bears were apparently none too pleased about being scheduled as the Packers' opponents on the night that Brett Favre was getting his number retired at Lambeau Field. In front of a packed crowd, on the (so rainy) holiday nightcap, the Bears outlasted Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in what'll surely be the most rewarding win of the upcoming 6-10 season. Here's whose arrows are up and down in the 17-13 win: 

ARROW UP – The Bears, just in general 

Good for the (4-6) Bears! They were still technically In The Hunt, but this wasn't a particularly strong team and boy is it disrespectful to be scheduled on Favre's big night. Things never break the Bears' way in this rivalry, and especially not in Green Bay. On a nationally-televised, holiday game no less? The Bears never, ever win this game. It wasn't "a good example of football" or "fun to watch," but the luxury of winning is you don't have to remember the details. 

ARROW DOWN – The passing game 

Cutler threw for 200 yards, and would have had a good bit more if there weren't so many drops. The constant, unrelenting rain that came down throughout this game obviously made the football hard to catch,  but the Bears dropped more than a couple balls. Alshon Jeffery was guilty of a couple, and Jeremey Langford's drop on 3rd and 2 in the 2nd quarter stood out as especially egregious. 

ARROW UP – Pat O'Donnell 

Eight punts for my man Pat. Eight! He racked up 323 yards while averaging 40.4 yards per punt on a night when special teams can get messy. The Packers faced tough field position all night – starting eight of their 12 drives within 20 yards of their own end zone – and O'Donnell was a big reason why. 

ARROW DOWN – Run defense 

To be fair, Eddy Lacy is huge. Lacy ran for 105 yards on 17 rushes, his longest rush of the night going for 29 yards. He was also useful out of the backfield for Green Bay, catching four balls for 34 yards – 25 of them coming on a touchdown in the first quarter. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, this was the run defense's worst performance (36.5) of an otherwise okay season (74.1). Shea McClellin (27.7) and Christian Jones (33.8) were graded particularly poorly, though McClellin finished second on the team in tackles. 

ARROW UP – The secondary

Kyle Fuller was targeted twice in 78 snaps, and didn't allow a reception. Tracy Porter got a rare interception off Aaron Rodgers, and would have had two if not for a penalty negating the play. Bryce Callahan had an up-and-down game, but the corner had his moments and played well in coverage on the final play of the game. 

Brian Urlacher on Robert Quinn: 'I didn't love the signing'

Brian Urlacher on Robert Quinn: 'I didn't love the signing'

The best way for the Chicago Bears to take full advantage of the Khalil Mack era is to give him a competent pass-rushing running-mate who can consistently win the one-on-one opportunities he's certain to face.

Former first-round pick Leonard Floyd couldn't do it, and that's why he's no longer a Bear. It's also why Robert Quinn, who totaled 11.5 sacks for the Cowboys in 2019, was signed to a five-year, $70 million contract in free agency.

But was it money well-spent? According to Hall-of-Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, the answer is no.

“This isn’t a knock on the player, [but] I didn’t love the signing of Robert Quinn,” Urlacher said on ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy show . “I liked him, he had a great season last year, really good football player. I just – you paid Khalil [Mack] all this money, he gets all this money. Akiem Hicks is a badass in the middle, making all this money. I understand you get rid of Floyd. But do you need to spend that much money on another guy up front?

“I would think you could find someone to put pressure from that side. Khalil is getting two guys no matter who is over there anyway, and with Akiem back, it’s going to be different. Once he’s healthy, we all saw how much he meant to their defense when he wasn’t in there.”

Urlacher's points are certainly valid, and a healthy Hicks should give Chicago's defense the extra juice it was lacking for most of the second half of last season. But there's also a flaw in Urlacher's reasoning. If having two 'badass' pass-rushers is great, then adding a third can result in something truly special.

Quinn has the potential to be the final piece that the Bears' defense needs to go from great to truly elite. He's registered five seasons with at least 8.5 sacks.

Did the Bears pay Quinn too much? Did they go all-in on a player who's battled injuries before last year's resurgence? Maybe. But it's a risk worth taking, especially considering how dominant this team can be if Mack and Quinn stay healthy in 2020.