Sammy Watkins

Bears free agency rumor tracker: Tuesday

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USA Today

Bears free agency rumor tracker: Tuesday

After the Bears agreed to a deal with Allen Robinson in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the NFL rumor mill continues to churn...

9:00 p.m. update

CB Prince Amukamara

The news: His deal is worth $27 million over three years

Amukamara gets the multi-year deal he wanted after playing on one-year deals in each of the last two seasons. Amukamara made $7 million in 2017, so he gets a pay raise in terms of average annual value. Around $18 million of his contract is guaranteed, too:

That's a lot of money to tie up in a cornerback to then draft a cornerback in April, presuming the Bears don't surprisingly lose Kyle Fuller to an outlandish offer sheet. 

7:45 p.m. update

CB Prince Amukamara

The news: Will re-sign with the Bears

This isn't surprising given the Bears probably didn't want to pay $22-$25 million in 2018 for their two starting cornerbacks (few, if any teams, would want to do that). Amukamara was solid, if not spectacular, in 2017: He didn't pick off any passes, but he wasn't targeted as frequently as Kyle Fuller was. His veteran leadership resonates in the Bears' defensive backs room, too. 

QB Mike Glennon

The news: Will sign with the Arizona Cardinals

This can't happen until the new league year begins and the Bears release Glennon. The Bears will face the Cardinals in 2018, but with Sam Bradford signed to a one-year deal and the possibility of Arizona drafting a quarterback this year, chances are Glennon won't get a shot at facing his former team. 

6:20 p.m. update

CB Trumaine Johnson

The news: Will sign with the New York Jets

CB Malcolm Butler

The news: Will sign with the Tennessee Titans

Johnson will get $15 million annually from the Jets, while Butler will get a little over $12 million from the Titans with a good chunk of that contract guaranteed. It'll be interesting if Kyle Fuller uses either of these contracts as a baseline for what he wants in a long-term deal, or if the Bears would rather use Bashaud Breeland's contract as a starting point:

More likely is Fuller's deal trending toward Butler, but not as high as Johnson. Either way, the top cornerbacks on the market are taken, so a team that missed out on one could approach Fuller with an offer sheet that would further help set his market. Expect the Bears to look for a less-expensive option to pair with Fuller -- reuniting with Prince Amukamara could make some sense -- and then possibly use a top draft pick on a cornerback in April. 

3:20 p.m. update

WR Taylor Gabriel

The news: Will sign a four-year deal with the Bears

The speedy 5-foot-8, 167 pound Gabriel fills the Bears' need for a slot receiver. He exploded for 579 yards and six touchdowns with 35 catches as part of the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl run in 2016, but tailed off a bit last year (33 catches, 378 yards, 1 TD). Perhaps worth noting is Gabriel's big year in Atlanta came when he played a little over 40 percent of the Falcons' snaps, as opposed to over 50 percent in 2017. Perhaps Matt Nagy can find a way to dynamically interchange him and Tarik Cohen in the offense to keep both players fresh and at their best. That's an exciting possibility. 

TE Jimmy Graham

The news: Will sign with the Green Bay Packers

The NFC North arms race just got another jolt, with the Packers landing the 31-year-old Graham, who caught 10 touchdowns last year for the Seattle Seahawks. But as part of signing Graham, the Jordy Nelson era is over in Green Bay:

CB Bashaud Breeland

The news: Will sign with the Carolina Panthers

The money for Breeland, perhaps more than Aaron Colvin, will go a long way toward setting the market for a contract extension for Kyle Fuller. We'll see what that is. 

2:30 p.m. update

CB Aaron Colvin

The news: Will sign a four-year deal with the Houston Texans

This is the first concrete movement we've seen on the cornerback market besides some rumors linking Malcolm Butler to the Detroit Lions on Monday. Colvin was a part of that elite Jacksonville defense in 2017 as a nickel corner, but there were some concerns his strong season was more due to the level of talent around him. What the value of his contract is could be a determinant for what Kyle Fuller's market value is as an outside guy, as well as the other top corners in this year's free agent class. 

WR Marqise Lee

The news: Will re-sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Another receiver goes off the board, though like with Richardson, it was unlikely the Bears were going to sign Lee and pay Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Cameron Meredith. 

 

12:30 p.m. update

LB Christian Jones

The news: His contract is worth $7.75 million over two years

This may have been more money than the Bears were willing to commit to a guy who may not have had a starting role on the 2018 team. Good for Jones, though, for cashing in on his strong play the last few years.

WR Paul Richardson

The news: Will sign a four-year, $50 million deal with Washington

RIchardson is a burner who averaged 16 yards per reception and caught six touchdowns last year for the Seattle Seahawks, and the soon-to-be 26-year-old has upside. The Bears were unlikely to sign Richardson if this was his market, though, meaning they'd be committing about $30 million in 2018 to three free agent pass-catchers, as well as some cash to restricted free agent Cameron Meredith.

QB Sam Bradford

The news: Will sign a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals

This doesn't take Arizona out of the market to trade up in April's draft and pick a quarterback. It could be a competitive market to move up with the Buffalo Bills, which would benefit the Bears either in their ability to trade down from No. 8 or their ability to get the guy they want (Quenton Nelson? Tremaine Edmunds? Denzel Ward? Josh Jackson?) at No. 8. 


11:25 a.m. update

LB Christian Jones

The news: Will sign a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions

It's a little surprising the Bears didn't retain Jones, who proved to be a solid player with good knowledge of Vic Fangio's defense over the last few years. Perhaps the Bears want to move forward with Nick Kwiatkoski as a starter next to Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker, or will target an inside linebacker like Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds or Georgia's Roquan Smith in the NFL Draft next month. For Jones, he'll stay in the division and will join outside linebacker Devon Kennard in Matt Patricia's defense:

QB Mike Glennon

The report: He could wind up in Arizona after the Bears release him

Glennon will be released when the 2018 league year begins on Wednesday, and the Arizona Cardinals could do what the Bears did a year ago and sign him, and then draft a quarterback in April. He certainly won't get close to the money he got from the Bears, of course. 

11:00 a.m. update

PK Cody Parkey

The news: Will sign with the Bears

Parkey is 26 and made 21 of 23 field goals last year for the Miami Dolphins, which would represent a massive upgrade over the ineffective Connor Barth/Cairo Santos/Mike Nugent trio from a year ago. He hit all 14 of his field goals from inside 40 yards, but oddly missed three PATs, and made seven of eight kicks from 40 or more yards, including a 54-yarder. The Chicago Tribune was the first to report the Bears' interest in Parkey. 

Parkey made the Pro Bowl his rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles, making 32 of 36 field goals in 2014, but struggled early in 2015 and then went on injured reserve with a groin injury. He re-surfaced with the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and made 20 of 25 field goals -- and overlapped with current Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor there -- before moving on to Miami last year. 

QB Kirk Cousins

The report: Will sign a three-year, fully-guaranteed deal with the Minnesota Vikings

There you have it. The NFC North will be stacked with quarterbacks, and if the Bears are able to take a major step forward, it could compete with the NFC West as the NFL's best division. But that's a big "if" right now. More immediately, the Vikings getting Cousins likely means we'll see more quarterbacks go off the board before the Bears pick at No. 8 in April's draft, with the Jets missing out on him and the Arizona Cardinals potentially eyeing a trade into the top 10 along with the Buffalo Bills. 

10:40 a.m. update

TE Trey Burton

The news: Will sign a four-year, $32 million deal with the Bears

The Bears may not be done adding to their offense, either, with the expectation being they could agree to sign at least one more wide receiver to pair with Allen Robinson. 

10:05 a.m. update

QB Kirk Cousins

The report: Minnesota is the front-runner to sign him

If this visit goes well and the Vikings can eventually hammer out a deal with him, the NFC North will have Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Mitch Trubisky as its quarterbacks, further underscoring the Bears' absolutely needing to be right on using last year's No. 2 overall pick on Trubisky. The Vikings are going for it, knowing their window to win is relatively narrow, and grabbing Cousins to throw the ball to Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen would certainly boost those efforts. The Broncos are expected to sign Case Keenum, taking them out of the mix and realistically leaving the Vikings, Jets and Cardinals as the three teams to sign him. But all signs seem to be pointing toward Minnesota right now. 

8:50 a.m. update

WR Albert Wilson

The news: Will sign a three-year, $24 million deal with the Miami Dolphins

Last night, Rapoport reported the Dolphins were the front-runner for Wilson, and that came to fruition Tuesday morning, it would appear. The thought was the Bears would be a natural fit for Wilson, who had some success under Matt Nagy in Kansas City, but the Dolphins will give him $8 million annually to replace Jarvis Landry. Still, expect the Bears to be in the market for another receiver or two, or a tight end, as we hurtle toward 3 p.m. on Wednesday. 

CB Bryce Callahan

The report: The Vikings could target him

https://twitter.com/GoesslingStrib/status/973525992051478528

The Bears have the right of first refusal on Callahan (and Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy) but will not receive a draft pick if they decline to match an offer sheet. Callahan flashed some playmaking ability with two interceptions and a forced fumble last year, but has been banged up at times over the last few years. 

7:25 a.m. update

WR Allen Robinson

The news: Will sign a three-year, $42 million deal with the Bears

We'll have plenty on Robinson throughout the day here on NBC Sports Chicago, but we'll start here: He's coming off a torn ACL suffered on the third play of the 2017 season, but expects to be cleared for training camp

WR Sammy Watkins

The news: Will sign a three-year, $48 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs

Couple this move with Robinson, and the two top wide receivers have their landing spots. Most importantly, though, they have their contracts, with Robinson getting $14 million annually and Watkins netting $16 million annually with more than half his contract guarnateed. This now opens up the free agent market for the second-tier receivers in it, like Seattle's Paul Richardson and Jacksonville's Marqise Lee. The Bears could still be in on those guys, as well as Kansas City's Albert Wilson (though NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Miami Dolphins are the front-runners for him). Expect some news about the top tight ends in this free agent class to trickle out on Tuesday, too, with the Bears potentially in on those guys. 

OL Andrew Norwell

The news: Will sign a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars

If you were wondering why the Bears weren't in on the best guard on the free agent market to replace Josh Sitton...this is why. Norwell is a great fit for a Jaguars team with Leonard Fournette, but his contract is the largest ever given out to a guard. 

QB Case Keenum

The news: Will sign with the Denver Broncos

The begs the question: Are the Minnesota Vikings so confident they'll sign Kirk Cousins that they were willing to let Keenum, who QB'd them to the NFC Championship, walk to Denver? Maybe, maybe not, but for the Bears' draft purposes, Keenum going here doesn't necessarily take Denver out of the quarterback market. If it does, though, Denver could look to trade down, with the No. 5 pick more enticing to a team like the Buffalo Bills than the Bears' No. 8 pick. A lot to consider here. 

Four key tagging decisions bring free agency into focus for Bears

Four key tagging decisions bring free agency into focus for Bears

The NFL’s deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on players passed Tuesday afternoon, with the Bears deciding against using it — and the near $15 million salary that comes with it — on cornerback Kyle Fuller. But they will use the transition tag, which costs less than the franchise tag at $12.971 million.

The transition tag allows the Bears to match any offers a team makes to Fuller, but if they decline to match it, they will not receive compensation. That's the risk of the transition tag; the benefit is it costs less and affords the Bears more time to negotiate a long-term deal (the deadline for franchise tagged players to sign a long-term extension is July 15). 

This isn’t like the Alshon Jeffery situation last year, when the Bears declined to use the franchise tag and lost him to the Philadelphia Eagles (the transition tag was not used on Jeffery). Jeffery picked a team with more coaching and quarterback stability (and upside) in the Eagles over a Bears team that was about to sign Mike Glennon and was a month and a half away from drafting Mitch Trubisky. 

Fuller’s situation is much more stable in Chicago, with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell returning for their fourth seasons with the Bears. It’d make sense if Fuller ultimately wanted to continue playing for the same coaching staff under which he enjoyed a breakout 2017 season, one which improved his stock from possible being a training camp cut to being due for a big payday. 

But since Fuller’s made it this far without being agreeing to a multi-year deal with the Bears, there’s little risk for him in testing the free agent market to see what his value is. The Bears know that, but still wanted to keep him without guaranteeing him more money in 2018 than he may get on the open market. 

“I would say cornerback this year in free agency and the draft is a good position,” general manager Ryan Pace said last week, “so that’s beneficial to us.”

Maybe that was Pace sort of winking at Fuller’s representation that, hey, the market you’re expecting may not be the market that develops given it’s flooded with top-end guys like Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler and Bashaud Breeland, not to mention a draft class headlined by Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Iowa’s Josh Jackson. The transition tag bears that out: The Bears want to keep Fuller, and it allows him to test free agency to figure out his market while allowing Pace to match any offers that come his way. The tag makes sense a lot of sense for the Bears, and probably does for Fuller, too. 

“I can definitely see myself back here,” Fuller said back on New Year’s Day. “I was drafted here. I like it here. But it’s my first time ever in free agency. I have to talk to my agents, my family and just see how that stuff works out. We’ll see. I understand it’s a business. So I’ll be looking forward to whatever it brings.”

Beyond Fuller, there were three other players who didn’t receive the franchise tag on Tuesday for whom the Bears could be in the market:

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson

Initially, the thought was the Jaguars would do whatever they could to hang on to Robinson, especially after they signed Blake Bortles to a contract extension last month. But the Jaguars and the playmaking wideout have drifted apart in negotiations over the last week, and the team decided against spending $15.98 million on a guy coming off a torn ACL. 

When healthy, Robinson is one of the best receivers in football, catching 153 passes for 2,283 yards with 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016. He’ll have plenty of suitors and command a hefty payday with plenty of guaranteed money. Will that scare off the Bears, given their best wide receiver — Cameron Meredith — is similarly coming off a torn ACL? Or will Pace roll the dice and try to hit it big in finding a No. 1 target for Trubisky? The Bears’ level if interest here will be fascinating to watch develop. 

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins

The Rams were reportedly going back and forth on using the franchise tag on Watkins or safety Lamarcus Joyner, and ultimately decided to use it on Joyner. Watkins will have plenty of interest in the open market after averaging 15.2 yards per reception and hauling in eight touchdowns in 2017, though he only caught 39 passes for 593 yards as part of that explosive Rams’ offense. 

Watkins, like Fuller, could opt to stay in Los Angeles with the thought it’s the best place for him to further his career. But expect the receiver-starved Bears to make a push for Watkins, too, hoping to sell him on their own combination of a young, offensive-minded head coach and a developing franchise quarterback. 

Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell 

Norwell would’ve been due a little over $14 million had he been tagged (the expectation in Carolina is he won't be). That’s money usually reserved for tackles, not guards, though the 26-year-old Norwell is one of the best interior linemen in the league and hasn’t missed a game since the 2015 season. 

Norwell could command around or more than $30 million in guaranteed money in the open market, which could be more than the Bears want to spend after releasing Josh Sitton and saving $8 million in cap room. But Norwell’s age and talent, coupled with the Bears’ healthy cap situation, does represent the team’s best chance to upgrade over Sitton at guard. Going with a cheaper free agent, or drafting a guard — whether it’s Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson or a later-round guy — is certainly an option here as well. 

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Free agent focus: Free-agent options for the Bears to upgrade at wide receiver

Free agent focus: Free-agent options for the Bears to upgrade at wide receiver

The Bears need to find Mitch Trubisky some players to throw to this season, and that process begins next week when teams are allowed to begin negotiating contracts with free agents on March 12. There might not be an elite receiver set to hit the open market, but there are plenty of solid players who could be fits for the Bears. A look at five of those guys:

Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams seems prepared to let Watkins test the open market, but after catching eight touchdowns a year ago in the Sean McVay/Jared Goff offense, would he really want to leave? Or, alternatively, would the Bears be willing to potentially overpay to lure him away from Los Angeles? Watkins, for what it’s worth, only caught 39 of his 70 targets last year and missed eight games as recently as the 2016 season.

Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks

Richardson tore his ACL and suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in 2015, which muted the former second-round pick’s promise a bit in Seattle. He flashed some good downfield skills in 2017, catching 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns while playing in all 16 games. He’d be a good option to be a deep threat for Trubisky and might even be a better one than Watkins.

Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars

If the Jaguars can’t come to agreement with Allen Robinson — which might not be a slam dunk anymore — perhaps they’ll do what they can to keep Lee, who’s averaged 63 catches for 828 yards the last two years. But either way, things might be trending toward both receivers hitting the open market.

Lee is 26 and has only missed two games in the last two years, which could make him an attractive target to add to the injury-ravaged Bears receiving corps. But how the market develops for Robinson will be fascinating — would the Bears be willing to offer more years and more guaranteed money to a guy coming off a torn ACL? That question is complicated by the fact that the Bears’ best receiver on their current roster, Cam Meredith, is coming off a torn ACL, too. Money isn’t necessarily an object for the Bears, who could have around $90 million in cap space if they release Markus Wheaton and Marcus Cooper, but signing an injured receiver while Meredith and Kevin White are on the mend does carry risk.

But Robinson, when healthy, is one of the best receivers in the league. He won’t turn 25 until August and racked up 2,283 yards and 20 touchdowns while being targeted 302 times between 2015 and 2016. If the Bears can land Robinson and get him healthy, he’d immediately be the best target for Trubisky, and one who could help the entire passing game merely by his presence.

Either way, the Bears could target either of these Jaguars receivers, given Jacksonville probably doesn’t have the cap space to keep them both.

Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens

Wallace turns 32 in August but showed in Baltimore he still has some tread on his tires, following a 1,000-yard 2016 season with 52 receptions for 748 yards (14.4 yards/reception) in 2017. He only missed one game last year and prior to that played in all 16 games for four consecutive seasons. The Bears would be gambling against an age-related regression, and he might not be the elite deep threat he once was (on average, passes thrown to him traveled 12.9 yards, about the same as those intended for Dontrelle Inman). But depending on what kind of contract Wallace commands on the open market, bringing in a veteran with Super Bowl experience for Trubisky could be a good thing.

Albert Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach’s reaction to a question about his hopes of re-signing Wilson told it all last week at the NFL Combine: “Well, Matt’s in Chicago.” Matt, of course, is Matt Nagy, the Bears’ head coach who most recently was Kansas City’s offensive coordinator.

The 5-foot-9, 200-pound Wilson caught 42 passes for 554 yards with the Chiefs last year and would be a good scheme fit for Nagy’s spiced-up West Coast offense. Signing him, if the Bears don’t pull off a blockbuster trade for Miami's Jarvis Landry, would give Trubisky a reliable slot target who knows Nagy’s offense well.

“He is a very tough player,” Veach said. “He does everything from the slot to the outside, he can block, and he can return if you need him to. He is a very valuable commodity for us and certainly has done a lot for us the last few years.”

Other options

The Bears’ free-agent plans could crystallize before March 12 if they were to pull off a blockbuster trade for Landry. NBC Sports Chicago colleague John “Moon” Mullin reported the Bears have discussed a mega-trade that would ship Jordan Howard and the No. 8 pick to the Dolphins for Landry, the No. 11 pick and a third-round pick. Yes, a ding against Landry’s game is that he only averaged 8.8 yards per reception in 2017, but he averaged 11.2 yards per reception during the 2015 and 2016 seasons and has never missed a game in his four years in the league.

Wilson would be a cheaper option, but the Bears need productive receivers, and Landry certainly is productive. Some other options who are on the market, if the Bears were or were not to acquire Landry: Ryan Grant, Eric Decker, Donte Moncrief, Jaron Brown, Taylor Gabriel, Terrelle Pryor and John Brown. Expect Pace to cast a wide net to find receivers for Trubisky.