Bears

NFL Free Agency Tracker: Latest news from around the league

NFL Free Agency Tracker: Latest news from around the league

The tampering is about to become a reality as teams can officially put the pen to paper with free agents when the new league year begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Equipped with just under $52 million — a number that will climb once the Jay Cutler release becomes official — the Bears will be extremely active in this year's free agency market.

Check out the latest free agency news below:

1:38 p.m.: The Bears have reached an agreement with free agent tight end Dion Sims, reports NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

1:14 p.m.: Alshon Jeffery is leaning towards choosing the Eagles when free agency starts, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.

12:32 p.m.: The Jay Cutler era is reportedly over in Chicago, and a reunion with Matt Forte in New York is possible.

10:27 a.m.: Mike Glennon's contract with the Bears will be a three-year, $45 million deal, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.

10:20 a.m.: The Eagles and Colts are making a strong push to sign Alshon Jeffery, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

9:10 a.m.: The Bears have offered Alshon Jeffery $13 million per year, reports the Chicago Tribune.

8:10 a.m.: After losing out on the former Bills cornerback, the Bears have made a strong offer for A.J. Bouye, according to ESPN's Jeff Dickerson.

7:56 a.m.: Potential Bears target cornerback Stephon Gilmore is expected to sign with the New England Patriots, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

And according to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Gilmore was disappointed the Bears weren't "more serious" with their offer.

6:20 a.m.: Mike Glennon is reportedly expected to make big money when he signs with the Bears.


Wednesday's notes

4:43 p.m.: The Bears' talks with free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore have hit a snag, according to Bleacher Report.

1:54 p.m.: Brian Hoyer has agreed to a two-year deal with the 49ers, according to Ian Rapoport.

12:54 p.m.: The Dallas Cowboys will release quarterback Tony Romo on Thursday, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.

12:53 p.m.: Tyrod Taylor has restructured his contract with the Buffalo Bills.

12:32 p.m.: Brian Hoyer is expected to pick a team on Thursday. The 49ers and Jets both appear to the strongest suitors, according to ProFootballTalk.

11:43 a.m.: Cross one Bears' free agent target off the board. According to Rand Getlin, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner has agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.

10:53 a.m.: A deal between the Bears and free agent quarterback Mike Glennon is all but done, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal is expected to fall in the three-year, $45 million range.

10:44 a.m.: The Bears and Bills "are all over" free agent offensive tackle Ricky Wagner, according to The Ringer's Mike Lombardi.

10:29 a.m.: The 49ers and Jets are showing the most interest in former Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer, reports Ian Rapoport.

9:21 a.m.: Former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall agrees to two-year deal with the Giants.

Tuesday's notes

4:59 p.m.: Bears making "big push" to sign top free agent corner Stephon Gilmore, according to SiriusXM NFL Radio's Alex Marvez.

1:09 p.m.: The New England Patriots' asking price for rumored Bears trade target Jimmy Garoppolo has been revealed.

12:47 p.m.: According to Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times, the Bears are interested in free agent wide receiver Andre Holmes.

12:38 p.m.: The Bears may not have any competition for free agent quarterback Mike Glennon, according to CSNChicago.com's John "Moon" Mullin.

11:47 a.m.: SiriusXM's Alex Marvez reports the Bears are showing interest in offensive tackle Ricky Wagner.

11:18 a.m.: D.J. Swearinger could be a free agent target of the Bears, reports the Chicago Tribune.

9:36 a.m.: Sources tell Alex Marvez the Bears are expected to pursue wide receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson.

6:44 a.m.: The Bears will make a strong push to sign free agent quarterback Mike Glennon, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

JJ Stankevitz and Cam Ellis dive into a few interesting developments from OTAs at Halas Hall on Wednesday, including Bradley Sowell’s position change (0:30) and Leonard Floyd’s upside (5:30). Plus, hear from Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix about how the ‘Bama safety pair came to be re-united in Chicago (12:30). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

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USA Today

Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

The Bears will try to address one of their more glaring weaknesses — tight end depth — by giving longtime offensive tackle Bradley Sowell some work at tight end in the coming weeks of practice at Halas Hall. 

Sowell, a reliable backup swing tackle the last two seasons with the Bears, was targeted twice as a receiver in 2018 — first, on a nearly-intercepted Mitch Trubisky pass against the New England Patriots, and second on the famous “Santa’s Sleigh” touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. He also got some work as a fullback in the Bears’ Week 17 thumping of the Minnesota Vikings. 

“We felt like at the ‘Y’ position we could use some more depth,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s something we talked about at the end of the season. We discussed it and now we’re giving him a chance.”

Nagy’s assessment of the Bears’ “Y” (in-line) depth is accurate, if not even undersold. The athletic 6-foot-7, 312 pound Sowell will have a chance to be a backup to Adam Shaheen, who has missed 13 games in his first two years due to a string of injuries. Reserve tight end Ben Braunecker can play both the “Y” and “U” positions, and the Bears have a handful of undrafted free agents (led by Utah State's Dax Raymond) competing to catch the eye of the coaching staff in the coming weeks. 

The Bears’ offense struggled with two tight ends on the field last year, especially in Shaheen’s absence as Dion Sims played himself out of the league. It’s far too early to tell if adding Sowell to the tight end mix will help, but at this point, the Bears think it’s worth a shot. 

“He’s shown it repetitively in practice that he has the athletic ability, the hands, he’s very smart, he knows how to block and all that stuff,” Nagy said. “So let’s test it out and see. When I tell you he’s all-in, he’s all-in.”

Center of Attention

As expected, the Bears indeed will flip James Daniels and Cody Whitehair on the offensive line, with Daniels sliding to center and Whitehair to left guard. 

“We feel comfortable with it, so again, this is the time to test it out and see,” Nagy said. “It’s hard right now because we don’t have pads. So, we’ll get into training camp and see how that goes. But I feel pretty good about it.”

Daniels exclusively played left guard during last year’s regular season, with the Bears opting to hold steady with Whitehair at center for the third consecutive season. Whitehair, though, was drafted as a guard back in 2016 and only moved to center after the last-minute signing of Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. Daniels, too, starred as a center at Iowa and did get a smattering of preseason snaps there before fully committing to playing guard his rookie year. 

The change is the only planned one on Harry Hiestand’s offensive line, which returns every primary starter from 2018 (Daniels, Whitehair, Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Kyle Long). Perhaps the most significant change for this group, then, will be losing Sowell as its backup tackle. 

Windy City: Smoke Out?

Taquan Mizzell will work as a wide receiver during OTAs, with the now-former running back trading in No. 33 for No. 11 but facing an uphill battle to make the Bears’ roster. 

Mizzell does have a decent track record as a pass-catcher dating back to his college days at Virginia, but it’ll take a massive effort for the third-year player to crack into a crowded receiver room that already has a competitive battle brewing between Javon Wims, Marvin Hall and a group of undrafted free agents. 

While it’s too early to grant rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. a roster spot, shifting Mizzell out of the picture does appear to create a clearer path for the seventh-round pick to stick with the Bears this fall.