The Bears' primary focus on offense right now is finding a new coordinator after Adam Gase was named Dolphins head coach Saturday. Then comes decisions on Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte (if they haven't been made already) before scouting potential picks at the Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine, and pro days.
We wrote here Friday night about the numerous options available on the defensive side for Ryan Pace to address in free agency, if he so desires. The Bears GM has stressed all along the real roster-building must come through the draft, but with roughly $58 million in salary cap space to spend, he'll pick and choose where to use those financial resources. That space puts Pace in the Top 3 in the NFL in cap room.
Some perspective after zeroing in on some defensive names from three teams in particular: We looked closely at the Broncos and Jets for front-seven help. Denver right now has about $23 million to spend, while New York has only about $17.5. If looking for secondary help, we noted a couple of Chiefs. Kansas City is in a more comfortable position, currently sitting roughly $36-38 million below the projected salary cap of $151 to $153 million. As a side note, Gase has a lot of pieces to work with in Miami, but their roster is already at that projected cap for 2016.
As we did on the defensive side, all these players are 30-years-old or younger, with nearly all from the 2012 draft class entering their all-important second contracts. We'll zero in on the two potential primary areas of need: offensive line and, if the Bears want to move on from Martellus Bennett, tight end. But if things should happen to hit a snag with Jeffery, we'll start at his position.
|WIDE RECEIVER||TEAM||2015 SALARY (MILLION $)|
Like the aforementioned Chiefs, the Bengals also have about $35-37 million available, and they'll probably focus on Jones (65 receptions, 618 yards, four touchdowns, opposite A.J. Green and with Tyler Eifert). Benjamin emerged this season amidst all the chaos in Cleveland (68 receptions, 966 yards, five touchdowns) but is strictly a slot receiver, if the Bears wanted to move away from Eddie Royal. The 6-foot-3 Randle has been frustrated playing in the shadow of another LSU alum, Odell Beckham, Jr., but still had 57 catches for 797 yards. If the Giants are allowed to make a play for Jeffery, Randle is a potential trade-off.
|TIGHT END||TEAM||2015 SALARY (MILLION $)|
Bennett is Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener wrapped up in one, and at least a more accomplished receiver than Joliet Catholic product Fleener. If the Bears wind up parting ways with Bennett and keeping Zach Miller, they'll have we to decide how high Khari Lee's upside is before shopping elsewhere. Green (37 receptions, 429 yards) was finally shut down after a mid-season ankle injury in that beaten-up San Diego receiving corps. Donnell is a restricted free agent and caught 29 passes before a Nov. 1 neck injury.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
|OFFENSIVE LINE||TEAM||2015 SALARY (MILLION $)|
|Russell Okung (LT)||Seahawks||7.3|
|Andre Smith (RT)||Bengals||6.4|
|Alex Boone (G)||49ers||3.7|
|Ramon Foster (G)||Steelers||2.1|
|J.R. Sweeney (G)||Seahawks||1.6|
|Mitchell Schwartz (RT)||Browns||1.6|
|Cordy Glenn (LT)||Bills||1.5|
|Jeff Allen (G)||Chiefs||1.5|
|Kelechi Osemele (LT)||Ravens||1.1|
Kyle Long said he's been told he's a tackle next season. And Pace sure sounded pleased with Charles Leno Jr.'s development at left tackle. So maybe we should simply focus on the guards. Boone is among the best, and was solid at guard after starting his career as a tackle, where he could be used as a safety net for Leno Jr. (though Boone was a tackle on the right side). Allen, out of King High School and the University of Illinois, started the last two years but missed a chunk of games this season in Kansas City. He returned down the stretch and was praised by his position coach, former Bears tackle Andy Heck.