Allen Robinson

NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms predicts Bears will make 'splash move' in free agency

NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms predicts Bears will make 'splash move' in free agency

The Bears had a season far below expectations, ending 2019 at 8-8 amid a year that started with Super Bowl hopes. There were some positives amid the disappointing season, including the seasons of rookie running back David Montgomery and veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson. Despite the great individual performances, the Bears' offense finished 2019 ranked 29th in the NFL in points and yards per game, and 25th in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage.

Translation: The Bears could use some offensive punch. 

This is a sentiment shared by NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms, who predicted the Bears will make a "huge marquee signing" this offseason.

He elaborated on the idea that the Bears are lacking a true offensive identity, and need to add an offensive weapon who makes opponents say, "We have to double him or we have to put an extra man in the box to stop that part of their running game," and helps them have an easily identifiable strength they can then build off of. 

As of now, the Bears rank in the bottom-five in terms of cap space. Fortunately for them, there are several moves they can make to free up a considerable amount of salary cap space. As far as what the Bears would do if they clear enough space to truly go big-game hunting in free agency?

The free agent wide receiver group includes names like Amari Cooper (Cowboys) and A.J. Green (Bengals) and less established names coming off of decent campaigns like Robby Anderson (Jets), Breshard Perriman (Buccaneers), Tavon Austin (Cowboys) or DeAnthony Thomas (Chiefs).

On the running back front, Kenyan Drake (Cardinals), Melvin Gordon (Chargers), Austin Ekeler (Chargers RFA) and Carlos Hyde (Texans) will be available. And, of course, Titans running back Derrick Henry — who gashed the New England Patriots for 182 rushing yards and a touchdown in the Titans' wild card upset — sits as the elite option among the 2020 NFL free agent running back group.

If Simms' prediction comes true, March will be an exciting time for Bears' faithful. Like Simms stated, teams should "watch out" for the 2020 Bears because in terms of being true, elite, contenders again, "They're not far away."

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Should the Bears target a game-breaking wide receiver this offseason?

Should the Bears target a game-breaking wide receiver this offseason?

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is one of the NFL's most respected pass-catchers. He was also one of the NFC's biggest Pro Bowl snubs after finishing 2019 with 98 catches, 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns.

But even with Robinson as Chicago's go-to-guy in the passing game, there was still something missing. For as fantastic as Robinson is, he doesn't have elite top-end speed that some of the NFL's best game-breakers possess.

Should the Bears focus some of their free-agent budget or 2020 NFL draft capital on a player like that? According to NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms, the answer is yes.

"I think the team is really still well-set up for success," Simms told NBC Sports Chicago. "The two things that jump out to me more than anything else are upgrading some of the offensive line – I think there needs to be one or two changes made there – and then, really, I think they need to find a game-breaker in the pass game on the offense, I really do. Allen Robinson’s really good; there’s a lot of really good with the Bears. But is there that guy that instills fear into a defense? I don’t know if there is, in the run game or the pass.

"What I’m basically saying is they need to find a weapon that’s a gameplan-changer for whoever’s playing defense against the Bears. That’s the one thing I think they really lack. Matt Nagy came from Kansas City, every week when people play the Kansas City Chiefs, they go ‘oh my gosh, how do we stop Tyreek Hill?’ And then you go, ‘oh we stopped Tyreek Hill, wait – there’s Travis Kelce! How do we do that?’ The Bears don’t have one guy yet that keeps a defensive coordinator up late at night to go, ‘how do I stop this incredible talent on their offense?’ So I would like to see that be made, some sort of splash move, whether it’s free agency or the draft, whatever it may be, to kinda get that game-changer on the offensive side of the ball."

It's a sentiment that's easier said than done, but according to Simms, the Bears are a team to watch in March.

"I just think they’re gonna make some huge marquee signing in free agency. I think there’s gotta be some play for a major free agent wide receiver or something like that."

Unfortunately, there aren't many receivers scheduled to hit the open market who necessarily fit that game-breaker description. Amari Cooper (Cowboys) will be too costly. A.J. Green (Bengals) likely will be, too, and even if his contract demands are reasonable, is he really all that different of a player than Robinson at this point?

Are the Bears really going to consider Tavon Austin (Cowboys) or DeAnthony Thomas (Chiefs) as speed players? Did Breshad Perriman do enough in his one season with the Buccaneers to warrant legitimate interest?

It seems more likely Pace will target a playmaker in the NFL draft; it's a deep wide receiver class that will offer players with legitimate upside on Day 3. 

Regardless, with all the attention paid to the offense's struggles at quarterback and offensive line, a field-flipping receiver is a need Pace has to address over the next few months.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Bears All-Decade Team: Allen Robinson among Chicago's best WRs

Bears All-Decade Team: Allen Robinson among Chicago's best WRs

The Chicago Bears wrapped up their 100th season of football in disappointing fashion, but the 2010s provided Bears fans with some fun moments and personalities to cheer for.

In this nine-part series, we'll name our Bears All-Decade Team.

We've already covered linebackers, defensive linemenedge defenders and the secondary. Next up: Wide receivers.

Allen Robinson

Robinson was one of the Bears' few bright spots on offense in 2019, recording the fifth-highest single-season reception total in franchise history (98) despite quarterback play that left a lot to be desired. 

The former Jaguar joined Chicago in 2018 via a three-year, $42 million free-agent contract after suffering a torn ACL in the 2017 season opener, and although it took him a full season to get back to 100 percent, Robinson established himself as one of the NFC's premier pass-catchers this season.

Even though he joined the Bears late in the decade, his impact has been significant enough to warrant a spot on this squad. He'll be a cornerstone piece of the offense for the foreseeable future.

Brandon Marshall

Marshall only played three years with the Bears but set single-season receiving records in receptions (118) and yards (1,508) in 2012 and had the fifth-most catches in a single season in 2013 (100). His impact over his first two seasons was remarkable.

When his time with the Bears was all said and done, Marshall totaled 279 catches for 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns, was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 and two-time Pro Bowler. 

Aside from running back Matt Forte, Marshall was the Bears' best offensive weapon of the decade.

Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery, the home-grown Bear who joined the team as a second-round pick in 2012, exploded for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in his second season, a yardage total that ranks as the second-best single-season mark in franchise history. It was an incredible uptick in production from his rookie season when he totaled just 367 yards.

Overall, Jeffery tallied 304 catches for 4,549 yards and 26 touchdowns during his tenure in Chicago. He has the third-most career receiving yards in Bears history. He would've rewritten the team's record books had general manager Ryan Pace found a way to keep him in town during the 2017 free agency period.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.