The initial two free-agency tsunamis have passed, the first being the mega-deals worked out during the pre-signing period, the second coming with less fanfare, in the form of key but quieter signings like the Bears’ with tackle Bobby Massie and linebacker Danny Trevathan. Even Matt Forte to the New York Jets, a smart second-level signing for what the NFL knows to be a first-level player.
More are coming, but take care to distinguish between smoke and fire. To wit: a fake report that the Bears had traded tight end Martellus Bennett to the Jets for ... oh, never mind on that one.
[MORE FREE AGENCY: Bears add to 'violent' quotient with Danny Trevathan, Bobby Massie]
Beneath the actual signings were percolating myriad visits and talks. The Bears were remaining aggressive on defense, with visits from New England Patriots defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman, both ranked No. 2 at their respective positions per CSNChicago.com. Neither accepted a Chicago deal as of Saturday morning, and Hicks was reportedly scheduled to visit the Detroit Lions on Saturday, not a positive sign for a possible Bears signing.
And the Patriots are expected to be in on Hicks as well, with their pattern of making clear to players that they are wanted in New England but with the understanding that most athletes want very much to have that one first spin through the open market. The Patriots handle these situations well, quietly putting an offer in place and asking only that their player give them a chance to match anything better.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
The Jets gave a touch of credibility to the Bears’ positive feelings toward Shea McClellin, bringing in the linebacker for a visit. That makes Vic Fangio and Todd Bowles, Jets head coach and former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, two very credible defensive coaches who think more of McClellin than many local critics do.
The once-and-now-again Los Angeles Rams cut ties with linebacker James Laurenitis, who is now on visit lists for the Bears, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.