Bears

Revisiting Ryan Pace's offseason moves now that training camp has begun

Bears

The Chicago Bears had a busy offseason, even if it didn't include the star power of a first-round pick of an elite unrestricted free agent. General manager Ryan Pace spent a considerable amount of money in free agency to upgrade the team's pass rush and doubled-down on tight end in the open market and NFL draft.

Now that training camp has kicked off, let's take a look at Pace's big offseason moves and how they look with the team's 80-man roster (for the most part) is in place.

Bears trade fourth-round pick for Nick Foles

This was the headline-grabber, and for good reason. Foles' addition means the Bears' passing game should improve by default in 2020. It has to. There's nowhere for it to go but up after ranking dead last in yards per attempt (6.2) behind a middling Mitch Trubisky who seemed to lose his confidence somewhere between his second and third seasons in the league.

Was Foles the type of quarterback Bears fans were hoping for? Would a Cam Newton addition have sparked more intrigue and excitement around this team? Sure. But Foles is a more exciting quarterback than he appears. Over 45% of his career touchdown passes have been longer than 20 yards, and his familiarity with Chicago's coaches and system makes him an unusual newcomer; even without any prior experience with the Bears, he joins the roster ready to start in Week 1.

Robert Quinn signed to add more QB sacks and pressures

There were more than a few pundits surprised by the Bears' decision to sign Quinn to a five-year, $70 million deal considering his injury history since 2015. But he's fresh off an 11.5-sack season in Dallas and has the kind of pass-rushing pedigree to suggest he can be a terror opposite Khalil Mack.

 

And here's the other thing: the odds that Quinn actually gets paid $70 million by the Bears are slim to none. Don't be fooled by flashy contract amounts; instead, focus on the guaranteed money. Quinn's deal calls for $30 million in guarantees and gives the Bears a possible out in 2022. 

Jimmy Graham and the Fountain of Youth

The most shocking decision by the Bears in the offseason was the decision to sign Graham to a two-year, $16 million deal after several seasons of regression from the one-time Pro Bowler. Chicago is confident Graham will return to his dominant ways in Matt Nagy's offense, but it's hard to trust a player who hasn't had more than 636 receiving yards in any of the last three seasons (and he was playing with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers).

Germain Ifedi gets a prove-it deal to start at guard

Ifedi, a former first-round pick of the Seahawks, was miscast at offensive tackle for most of his career in Seattle and will kick inside to guard for the Bears in 2020. Ifedi isn't the first collegiate tackle to struggle on the edge in the pros; he just doesn't have the footspeed to hang with NFL pass-rushers. And that's OK. The Bears don't need him to play tackle.

Instead, he'll be coached up by Juan Castillo at guard and Chicago is excited about his upside. He'll be the only new starter up front for the Bears in 2020 in what should be a much-improved offensive line.

Ifedi signed a one-year deal, so he's a low-risk, high-reward addition. If he struggles early in the season, Chicago can turn to Rashaad Coward as they did after Kyle Long's season-ending injury.

Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson headline Bears' draft class

Kmet was the Bears' first pick in the 2020 NFL draft at No. 43 overall, while Johnson was selected at No. 50. Kmet is expected to contribute in the tight end rotation behind Graham, while Johnson is in a training camp battle to start opposite Kyle Fuller.

It looks and feels like a promising draft haul for Pace, but we've been down this road before.

Bottom line

What's the one thing that most of the Bears' offseason moves have in common? They've all been predicated on cleaning up Pace's past mistakes.

Foles was targeted because Trubisky, the second overall pick of the 2017 draft, is teetering on becoming the Bears' biggest bust in franchise history.

Quinn is in Chicago because Leonard Floyd, the team's 2016 first-round pick, failed.

Graham and Kmet were added because Pace can't get the tight end position right. First, it was Dion Sims. Then it was Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton. There's been a massive investment in the position under Pace and the returns have been laughable.

 

The secondary has had way too much turnover despite fielding some pretty good players who should've been retained (like Adrian Amos, for example). While not mentioned above, the Bears added names like Tashaun Gipson and Artie Burns in what feels like dollar-store shopping for one of the most important position groups in today's NFL. Johnson has to hit, otherwise, it's fair to question why the Bears didn't invest more in the secondary instead of an aging tight end.

Assuming the 2020 season kicks off (and plays out), Pace's 2020 free-agent and draft classes will go a long way in deciding whether he's back in 2021. If his attempts to fix his past mistakes also fail? There's nothing much left to do but move on.