Bears

How the signing of CB Tre Roberson impacts Bears' depth chart

How the signing of CB Tre Roberson impacts Bears' depth chart

The Bears made their first free-agent move of the 2020 NFL offseason Tuesday with the signing of CFL cornerback Tre Roberson (Calgary). According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Bears will pay Roberson the biggest contract given to a CFL free agent since the Dolphins signed Cameron Wake.

Roberson, 27, played quarterback at Indiana and Illinois State before making the position change to cornerback prior to the 2016 NFL draft. He was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and stuck with the team on the practice squad and on a reserve/futures contract until September 2017.

Roberson signed with the Calgary Stampeders in May 2018 and used his time in the CFL to develop and sharpen his craft.

Roberson appeared in 32 games over the last two seasons in Canada and enjoyed a breakout seven-interception year in 2019. He totaled 10 picks in his two-year CFL career.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Roberson's addition to the roster spells trouble for veteran Prince Amukamara. Already on shaky ground because of his hefty $10 million cap hit. The Bears can save $9 million against the salary cap if they decide to part ways with him this offseason. It's a difficult decision for GM Ryan Pace to make considering Amukamara has been one of the team's most consistent and reliable defenders over the last few seasons.

But the investment in Roberson suggests the Bears are ready for a change in the secondary. It doesn't mean Roberson is a lock to start in Chicago, but he's a talented and cheaper alternative to Amukamara, who's failed to record an interception in two of his three seasons with the Bears.

Pace may have been ready to move on from Amukamara even before adding Roberson. Kevin Toliver, II played well in relief of Amukamara last season and proved capable of at least spot starter's duty. He was signed by the Bears as an undrafted rookie in 2018 and has developed nicely over the last two seasons. He'll fight for a starting job in training camp regardless of whoever Pace adds to the roster. Toliver played 175 snaps in 2019 with all but three of them coming between Weeks 14 and 17.

There's also Duke Shelley, 2019's sixth-round pick who failed to make any significant contribution as a rookie. He played just eight snaps on defense and will enter a training-camp battle for an active roster spot this summer. His quest to make the final-53 got a lot more challenging with Roberson in town.

Roberson's addition represents a strong and relatively aggressive start to the offseason for Pace. Bears defensive backs have been put on notice, too. Competition is coming.

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New mock draft has Bears making trade in 2nd round

New mock draft has Bears making trade in 2nd round

The 2020 NFL draft will be a challenge for Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace. He won't be armed with a first-round pick and has just two selections before the fifth round. Chicago is expected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick after losing safety Adrian Amos in free agency last year, but that's merely an assumption at this point.

It would come as no surprise if Pace makes a move or two in the second round to acquire more draft capital. It's more likely the Bears will trade down in the 2020 draft as opposed to recent drafts that saw Pace make aggressive moves up the board for WR Anthony Miller (2018) and RB David Montgomery (2019). 

In the latest mock draft from The Draft Network, Pace slides back from No. 43 to No. 48 (originally held by the Jets) and adds an additional fifth-rounder to his toolbox. And the Bears still end up with a player who fans would be happy with at their original pick in tight end Brycen Hopkins (Purdue).

The Bears' trade down was a good one, as they grab a target from earlier in the round while grabbing a fifth in return. Doesn't feel like much, but their cupboards are bare this year, and they need more weapons on offense to survive with Mitch Trubisky at QB

There aren't any trades at No. 50 overall, Chicago's second of two second-rounders. Instead, this mock draft sends the Bears LSU offensive tackle Saadiq Charles.

Saahdiq Charles is one of my favorite developmental tackles that. nobody talks about. He's not ready to step in and start in Year 1, but the Bears can keep Bobby Massie and Charles Leno installed as starters through this year and re-evaluate after Charles bulks up.

Charles will go through the rest of the draft process with some red flags after serving a six-game suspension for the Tigers in 2019. Still, with the premium placed on offensive tackles in today's NFL, landing a player at the position who has starter's upside is a big win, especially with the Bears having more flexibility to get out of Bobby Massie's contract at the end of 2020. While offensive tackle doesn't appear like Chicago's most pressing need, it quickly could become one next year if they don't add a developmental starter early in the 2020 draft.

It's hard to argue with a draft haul that brings the Bears a tight end and an offensive tackle in the second round, as well as an additional fifth-round pick along the way.

Nick Kwiatkoski is primed to cash in as a free agent

Nick Kwiatkoski is primed to cash in as a free agent

This week Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated included Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski in his ‘Free Agents Ready to Cash In’ section of his Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) column.

He describes the 26-year-old 2016 fourth-round pick as someone ready to cash in at the right time as he enter free agency.

Here’s the guy who’d never really gotten the chance to be a full-time starter, then did… at just the right time. The fourth-year former fourth-round pick started Chicago’s final seven games and showed that he can play the middle for someone, and he could get paid after guys like Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert come off the board. And maybe that someone will be his old coordinator, Vic Fangio in Denver.

The right time he is referring to is when Kwiatkoski started the final seven games of the Bears’ disappointing 2019 season while Danny Trevathan was injured. During those starts, he averaged seven tackles per game.

Breer isn’t the only analyst noticing Kwiatkoski after his solid stretch to close out 2019. After Week 10’s matchup against the Lions, Kwiatkoski earned Pro Football Focus’ highest grade for linebackers with a score of 92.4. In that game, he racked up eight tackles, one sack and one interception against Detroit, helping to bring home the W for the Bears on Thanksgiving.

The West Virginia alum and four-year NFL veteran proved how well he could play the middle, with Breer speculating he may be picked up by his old defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now with the Broncos.  Entering free agency this offseason, Ryan Pace is stuck in the position of having to chose between Kwiatkoski and Trevathan, whose contract is also expiring and spent the better part of the season out with a shoulder injury. The Bears can’t afford them both after Kwiatkoski’s value surely skyrocketed this season. It has yet to be seen where he or Trevathan will land. 

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