Bears

Pro Football Focus gives Bears 'below average' grade for free agent moves in the NFL offseason

Pro Football Focus gives Bears 'below average' grade for free agent moves in the NFL offseason

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has taken an interesting approach to free agency this year. His big-name additions are all near or north of 30 years old, including tight end Jimmy Graham (33) who is a shell of his former self.

Graham is 'Exhibit A' for Bears fans who are unhappy with Pace's decisions over the last couple of weeks, but the five-year, $70 million contract doled out to Robert Quinn has come under fire, too. He turns 30 in May and suffered numerous injuries before his return to prominence in 2019 (11.5 sacks with the Cowboys.)

There's also the trade for Foles, 31, who wasn't the first choice among fans hoping for legitimate quarterback competition for Mitch Trubisky this summer.

Pro Football Focus is unimpressed with Chicago’s efforts this offseason, too. They graded Chicago's offseason moves as 'below average' in a recent breakdown of all 32 teams.

Jimmy Graham was once one of the league’s best tight ends, but the 33-year-old hasn’t been the same since he left Seattle and is coming off the two lowest-graded seasons of his career in Green Bay. Robert Quinn is a great pass-rusher and is coming off a season in which he was 17th in pass-rush grade, but coverage is more vital to team success than pass-rush, and there are huge question marks at outside corner after the Bears cut Prince Amukamara. Not to mention, they opted not to re-sign one of the 20 most valuable safeties last year in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

This is a theme that will continue throughout the offseason and into training camp. Graham will be the target of jokes until he proves he can still play. And if the secondary becomes a big weakness on defense in 2020, questions about Pace's strategy will only grow.

The Bears still have the 2020 NFL Draft to fill some holes, and the second wave of free agency should be an opportunity to improve. But the prevailing opinion about the job done so far is not good

RELATED: 5 players the Bears could still sign in NFL free agency

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Why Tom Waddle believes Nick Foles will be Bears' QB1, not Mitch Trubisky

Why Tom Waddle believes Nick Foles will be Bears' QB1, not Mitch Trubisky

The central issue surrounding the Bears heading into the upcoming season concerns the starting quarterback situation, and that previous statement could apply to many more seasons than just 2020. Longtime ESPN 1000 host Tom Waddle is no stranger to QB drama, as the former Bears receiver has been a leading voice in analyzing the team for over a decade on the station’s highly-successful “Waddle & Silvy” show. When the Bears made their move to trade for Nick Foles in March, Waddle’s immediate reaction was a strong one, as he recounted to Laurence Holmes on the Under Center podcast.

“You don’t trade a fourth-round pick and give up $20 million guaranteed to a quarterback and sit him behind a QB that you don’t have full faith in,” Waddle explained. “I immediately thought this is going to be their starting quarterback. I think the familiarity that Nick Foles has with John DeFilippo and Bill Lazor and Juan Castillo and obviously Matt Nagy, I think you put that all together and you couple the familiarity with the uncertainty that is in the mind of the head coach about what the existing quarterback is capable of doing, and to me, it all added up to they got a guy that they trust and a guy that they see as their starter from Day 1.”

That doesn’t mean Foles will be an automatic savior. Of course, he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title with a brilliant string of play in January and February of 2018, eventually outdueling Tom Brady to win the title in a shootout. But Foles has started more than eight games in a season just twice in his eight-year pro career, the last coming in 2015 with the then-St. Louis Rams.

RELATED: 2020 Bears Roster Review: Breaking down the Mitch Trubisky-Nick Foles battle

However, the fact that the Bears were aggressive in identifying Foles and then trading with Jacksonville speaks volumes about how they feel about him and it’s that conviction that truly sells Waddle on Foles being the starter. “If you were just looking for somebody to compete with Mitch, you could have waited out the Bengals, who were more likely to release Andy Dalton,” hypothesized the former Boston College Eagle. “You could have signed Case Keenum, but I don’t think the Jags were releasing Nick Foles at any point because of the contractual obligation they had to him. They had to go get him and once they went and got Nick Foles, that was the surest sign of all, in my world, that Nick’s got the edge.”

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Khalil Mack didn't rank as high as you might think on PFF's top 50 players

Khalil Mack didn't rank as high as you might think on PFF's top 50 players

Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack didn't have the kind of season fans were expecting in 2019, but to be fair, Chicago's entire defense went through a bit of regression last year. Mack ended 2019 with just 8.5 sacks. It was the first season that he failed to crack double-digit sacks since his rookie year (2014).

Still, there's no denying Mack's place among the NFL's elite players, regardless of position. Barring injury, he's a surefire Hall-of-Famer and certainly one of the 10-best players in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, that may not be the case.

In PFF's ranking of the NFL's top 50 players, Mack ranks 18th.

Pro Football Focus is counting down their top 50 on Twitter, and so far the following players have been ranked higher than Mack:

17: Bobby Wagner
16: Chris Jones
15: Fletcher Cox
14: Richard Sherman
13: J.J. Watt
12: Stephon Gilmore
11: Drew Brees

All of those names are worthy of being ranked in this range, especially following a 2019 campaign that brought Mack back to the pack. 

2020 should produce different results for Mack and the Bears after adding Robert Quinn in free agency. The healthy return of Akiem Hicks will be a huge plus, too, giving Mack some much-needed help along the Bears' front-seven.

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