The 2016 NFL draft will come at the end of April, well after the March 9 formal start of free-agent signings that will have a huge influence on what the Bears and every NFL team does in the draft. The draft is indeed the true source of building materials for franchise foundations but even at No. 11, the Bears cannot count solely on a targeted player being available.
Consequently, scores in free agency are the critical second step (re-signing or franchise-tagging your own is the first step) in a successful offseason. GM Ryan Pace, his staff and that of coach John Fox have done pro scouting all through the 2015 season but Super Bowl 50 is a quick layman’s chance to scout possible free-agency targets for the Bears when free agency opens.
Some of the notables worth a look, and including a handful of reserves, where GM Ryan Pace may go in search of value:
CB Josh Norman - Career year in a contract year; may command top DB $$ at a premium position.
S Roman Harper - ’06 New Orleans pick while Ryan Pace on Saints staff, durable and productive but turning 34.
DL Kyle Love - Reserve DT played in 15 games, 2 starts, 3 sacks. Potential 5-technique started career in New England’s 3-4.
C/G Fernando Velasco - Backup started with Tennessee during tenure of Bears new OC Dowell Loggains.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]
S David Bruton - Veteran backup at both FS/SS a proven contributor on special teams but limited future in Denver behind T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart.
DE Malik Jackson - Denver signing DE Derek Wolfe (4 yr, $36M) makes Jackson a squeeze with Miller a must-keep. Drafted under John Fox. Tough inside rushman.
G Evan Mathis - Played ’15 under one-yr. deal at age 34.
LB Von Miller - The marquee target for every 3-4 defense, a pass-rush terror with range and cover ability.
LB Danny Trevathan Solid three-down inside LB likely to hit the market because Broncos have long list.