Bears

Bears free agency analysis: Alshon Jeffery non-deal left an understandable void

Bears free agency analysis: Alshon Jeffery non-deal left an understandable void

This is the first in a series analyzing the Bears' decision-making during the 2017 free-agency period.

The overarching objective in free agency is to fill needs with established NFL players who upgrade at those need areas and remove desperation from draft preparations. For the most part through the opening hours of free agency 2017, the Bears managed to accomplish both, with only one significant might-have-been question/exception.
 
That situation is the Alshon Jeffery conundrum, with the oft-productive wide receiver taking a surprising one-year deal from the Philadelphia Eagles that tops out at $14 million if Jeffery reaches ambitious production targets plus a Pro Bowl, but only $9.75 million coming in the door. The result puts Jeffery alongside Terrelle Pryor as wideouts who dramatically overestimated what their market value, including what their existing teams (Bears, Browns) thought they were worth, and chose to position themselves (again) for a hoped-for career year in 2017.
 
Jeffery's departure takes a playmaker away from an offense that had precious few of them last season. But how much of a loss Jeffery represents, however, is problematic.
 
"Conundrum" was the word choice for a reason.
 
Coach John Fox has a saying placed on the wall of a Halas Hall corridor: "Ability is important. Dependability is crucial." And "dependability" was the crucial issue surrounding Jeffery, who played just two 16-game seasons among his first five, missed seven games with four different injuries in 2015 and then four last year with a four-game PED suspension incurred while in a franchise-tag season.

[VIVID SEATS: Buy Bears tickets right here!]
 
And casual analytics are cause for pause. Jeffery has 13 games of 100 or more yards and six more of 90-plus. The Bears are a combined 5-14 in those games. The Bears' quarterback issues explain some of the general problems of the team, and Jeffery can be excused as wanting a change.
 
Notably perhaps, the Bears have been only slightly worse off without Jeffery (6-11, .353 pct.) than with him (26-37, .413 pct.). This was not a Brian Urlacher factor-figure, or even a Jay Cutler one, where the win-loss rate dips precipitously with him sidelined.
 
Jeffery represents a loss. But it's also understandable that neither GM Ryan Pace and the Bears organization, nor the rest of the NFL, was willing to pony up for Jeffery or palpably lament missing on him.

"I wouldn't say I was disappointed, no," Pace said last week, acknowledging that an offer had been made. "Yeah, we talked to Alshon Jeffery. We did and it just didn't work out. But we're moving forward."
 
That moving-forward came in the persons of speed receivers Kendall Wright from Tennessee and Pittsburgh's Markus Wheaton. The roster already had receivers in the Jeffery physical template (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White) and frankly needed the speed more than the size.
 
Because the production and dependability did not warrant giving Jeffery a third straight prove-it year, let alone a long-term deal.

Under Center Podcast: Should Bears have added Cam Newton over Nick Foles?

cam_newton_thumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Should Bears have added Cam Newton over Nick Foles?

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Adam Hoge debate and discuss which quarterback GM Ryan Pace should have gone after this offseason.

Later, they discuss hurdles the NFL still has to go through in order to start the season, and also dive into Jay Cutler's chicken mystery.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

(1:51) - Did the Bears make the right decision by going after Nick Foles?

(7:47) - Is Cam Newton's upside bigger than Foles'?

(18:00) - What can the NFL learn from MLB's return-to-play plan?

(30:23) - NFL will shorten the preseason to two games

(37:00) - Bears coverage will change this year

(45:13) - Jay Cutler's missing chickens

Listen here or below.

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe:

SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.

Robert Quinn says he wants to be 'icing on the cake' for Bears defense

Robert Quinn says he wants to be 'icing on the cake' for Bears defense

The failures of former Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd have been well documented. His inability to develop into the kind of pass rusher GM Ryan Pace was expecting when he selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2016 forced Chicago to make a massive investment in the position this offseason when they signed Robert Quinn to a five-year, $70 million deal.

The Bears' decision to move on from Floyd was the result of his absolute failure to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. He managed just 18.5 sacks in four seasons in Chicago, including a career-low three in 2019. 

Quinn represents a massive upgrade opposite Khalil Mack, and he told Terrell Owens on the 'Getcha Popcorn Ready' podcast that he wants to be the missing piece on what could be a championship-caliber defense.

"They already have the talent there," Quinn said of the Bears defense. "I'm just trying to bring the icing on the cake. I believe in my talents. I know what I bring to the table and again I know what they had there already. 

"I think with that formula, we can do something special this year."

Quinn had a bounce-back season in 2019 with the Cowboys when he registered 11.5 sacks. It was his first season with more than 10 sacks since 2014, but it wasn't a fluke. Quinn's battled injuries over the last few years (which is obviously a concern moving forward), but when healthy, he's one of the game's top sack artists.

Quinn had a remarkable 19 sacks in 2013 with the Rams.

Quinn's presence off the edge will be a boon for Mack, who's coming off his worst season since his rookie year. His 8.5 sacks broke his streak of four-straight seasons with 10.5 sacks or more. Mack's down season was proof that he isn't Superman, although he sometimes plays like it, and that he needs a complementary edge rusher who can take some focus of pass protection away from him. Quinn will be that guy.

The only thing that will prevent Quinn from making a massive impact with the Bears is his health. He's played a full 16 games just once in the last five years; he appeared in 14 games in 2019.