As they do every year at this point, the blizzard of names swirled around the start of the period in which teams can negotiate contracts with free agents. As with any blizzard, however, the real issue is how much of the snow sticks, and for that, there is Thursday at 3 p.m.
The Bears were active: per various reports, in the market for a quarterback (Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay), cornerback (Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo), safety (D.J. Swearinger, Arizona), wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery; Andre Holmes, Oakland; Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota), tackle (Ricky Wagner, Baltimore). There are others under various radars, and the market will not stay static, either, or remain on the same trajectory.
The Jets, for example, had genuine interest in Glennon but stepped away from the process when the asking price was in mid-double digits. The 49ers were peripheral, with a hope to reuniting new coach Kyle Shanahan with former Washington protégé Kirk Cousins. But failing to engineer a trade for the franchise-tagged quarterback, and if the price recedes enough from its $14 million-$15 million starting point in the absence of multiple teams making offers, would the Jets come back into the market and the 49ers, who've seen Colin Kaepernick opt out of San Francisco, then make a play?
Pace and the Bears face the unenviable task of needing a dramatic turnaround from a 3-13 season with win-now additions, and growing the roster for years beyond this one. The situation means needing to upgrade at quarterback sooner than later, for instance, while also putting a player in development, something that wasn't done in the past two drafts. (In fairness to Pace, the Bears haven't invested a significant pick in a quarterback since the fourth-rounder used for Kyle Orton in the 2005 draft – a move that led directly to reaching the playoffs that season.)
The Bears long ago moved beyond the cliché'd "Misers of the Midway" image that was a misrepresentation even when free agency first began in 1993. The problem was that the Bears were willing to spend huge money (Bryan Cox, Phillip Daniels, Thomas Smith, Tom Carter, Alonzo Spellman, others) but too often gushed that money on wrong players who never played to their dollar cost.
Pace and the Bears can ill afford a similar drama playing out this offseason.