San Francisco 49ers

5 players the Bears could still sign in NFL free agency

5 players the Bears could still sign in NFL free agency

We’re a week into free agency, and the Bears are almost out of money. Well, sort of. There’s always money in the banana stand. 

As of Monday morning, the Bears have a little under $2 million in remaining cap space, per Spotrac (this doesn’t yet include contracts for safety Deon Bush, cornerback Artie Burns and linebacker Barkevious Mingo). However, General Manager Ryan Pace can free up more dollars by restructuring the contracts of Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller and/or Eddie Goldman. 

The downside to that approach is that the bill will be due for those guys in the future. But that may be a problem for a another day. Pace’s former team, the New Orleans Saints, has been kicking their proverbial cap can down the road for years now. 

All of that sets up this list of second and third-wave free agents the Bears might be interested in over the next week or so. We’re going to stick to offense because the Bears look done adding anything more than depth pieces (like Burns and Mingo and Jordan Lucas) on defense.

Guard Josh Kline

Kline was cut by the cap-crunched Vikings last week and is the best run blocking guard still available, per Pro Football Focus. That’s not saying a lot, though. Kline’s run blocking grade in 2019 was slightly lower than Rashaad Coward’s, the guy he’d compete against if he were to land in Chicago. Kline is 30 and would bring some much-needed experience to a battle at right guard that might still include a draft pick.

Guard Michael Person

He’s similar to Kline, a veteran who would bring experience to a battle with greenhorns like Coward and Alex Bars. He played all but one snap of the San Fransisco 49ers’ playoff run earlier this year and, like Kline, won’t count against the 2021 compensatory pick formula because he was cut. A decent case here is for Person or Kline to be 2020’s starting right guard, with Coward being a valuable reserve who can play both guard and tackle. 

RELATED: Bears add veteran LB Mingo on one-year deal

Running back Corey Clement

Snap to Clement, toss to Burton, pass to Foles… The Bears could re-create the Philly Special! Clement was a valuable reserve for Doug Pederson’s Philadelphia Eagles in 2017-18, and the Bears should add another running back for depth behind David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen. But as cool as the thought of re-uniting the Philly Special guys in Chicago is, Clement is coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury. Because the Bears can’t get their medical staff to check him out due to the NFL’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, this is probably just a fun thought. 

Running back Carlos Hyde

Man, it’s tough out there for running backs. Hyde had the first 1,000-yard season of his career last year with the Texans and, a week into free agency, still hasn’t signed anywhere. If he’s willing to take a cheap, one-year deal, pairing him with David Montgomery would make a lot of sense. Hyde hasn’t been used as a receiver much in the last few years, but he did catch 59 passes in 2017. 

Wide receiver Robby Anderson

It’s been a brutal year for free agent wide receivers thanks to the deep, talented draft class about to hit in April. Anderson has been a victim of that market. His 14.98 yards per reception over the last three years rank 15th among wide receivers with at least 100 catches. That kind of explosiveness has been lacking in the Bears’ offense. Anderson is the most expensive guy on this list, but if his price keeps dropping, he’s worth considering as an upgrade in this offense.

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Patriots Bill Belichick and Tom Brady phone call 'didn’t go well'

Patriots Bill Belichick and Tom Brady phone call 'didn’t go well'

Tom Brady’s future still hangs in the balance and it appears things are getting even murkier. The six-time Super Bowl champ had his first conversation with Patriots GM Bill Belichick about his impending free agency and according to a Boston Herald source, the conversation did not go the way either party had hoped. The source didn’t elaborate further on why the conversation was unproductive, only saying it “didn’t go well.”

Not going well could mean a garden variety of things. According to NBC Sports Boston, Belichick conducted the call as if Brady was still firmly under contract with the Patriots and wasn’t particularly warm with his franchise QB. This is apparently very in-character for Belichick, who is known around the league for being all business during these negotiations. If the Patriots want to keep Brady, which they reportedly do, Belichick will need to show a little more emotion in these talks and make sure Brady feels valued in the organization.

Belichick’s cold demeanor aside, the free agent market is looking good for Brady, with multiple teams looking to sign the star. Most recently, Brady has been connected to the San Francisco 49ers, which saw QB Jimmy Garoppolo underperform in this year's Super Bowl against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo left the Patriots in order to stand out from Brady’s shadow, so it would be incredibly interesting if the 49ers were to pick him up this offseason.

Other teams currently connected to Brady include the Titans and the Buccaneers. The Las Vegas Raiders previously appeared interested in Brady, but it was revealed their interest wasn’t as strong as originally thought.

It looks like Brady will wait until officially becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 18 to decide where he will play this fall. And somewhere in this quarterback shuffle and scramble, the Bears will likely find a QB to challenge Mitch Trubisky for the starting job.

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The idea of Tom Brady to the San Francisco 49ers is catching on

The idea of Tom Brady to the San Francisco 49ers is catching on

Until Tom Brady picks a landing spot, we are going to have to deal with plenty of rumors and speculation connecting him to various teams.

That said, this one is wild. How about Tom Brady to the San Francisco 49ers? Wouldn’t that be something?

This is still more in the rumor stages and doesn’t have a ton of substance to it yet, but there has been a lot of chatter. Just for how fun the hypothetical is, it makes sense why this story has caught on.

It’s fun because the 49ers were just in the Super Bowl and starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not have a good game. Brady could be an upgrade and could put the 49ers over the top. Brady is also from the Bay Area.

It’s more fun because Garoppolo left the New England Patriots to get away from Brady’s shadow and carve out his own starting role. If there is mutual interest between Brady and the 49ers and the move materialized, that’s the stuff of epic grudges.

Would the 49ers want a 42-year-old quarterback when they just went to the Super Bowl with a 28-year-old? If Brady gets the 49ers a Super Bowl at the cost of some long-term success, it could be worth it, but it’s a huge risk.

NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran said it’s more than speculation, something the Boston Herald confirmed.

Where would that leave Garoppolo? Could he go back to New England?

If it’s just a straight swap, even if not explicitly made through a trade, that would have less of a domino effect on the quarterback market than Brady going to a team like Las Vegas or Nashville, for example. Even so, it would make one heck of a storyline.

If Brady goes to the 49ers and Garoppolo becomes available, could the Bears step in and get Garoppolo to come home? If the Rolling Meadows native doesn't go straight to the Patriots to finally get the starting job he had been groomed for, he would be an upgrade over Mitch Trubisky for the Bears.

It's a lot of its without anything real, but it's a heck of a thought.

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