With many of the big names gone, and much of the big money being distributed, attention is now turning to the second and third waves of free choice.
These are arguably the most essential waves as this is where bargains are found and depth charts are rounded.
A guy who signs a one- or two-year proof-it deal could play for more money sooner or become a cheaper part of a starting lineup.
We know that many of the big signings won’t see the end of those big money deals. But the next round of contracts could see their entire deals play out and the GMs who signed them looking very smart for it.
Of course, there are still some big money and big name players out there.
The Chicago Bears have many holes in their roster to fill, with glaring requirements for offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback depth, potential running back depth, and more.
The draft can’t fill all of those positions, so here are a few folks the bears could (or should) check out.
Orlando Brown Jr., T – The former Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs tackle appeared to be getting the big bucks, but it hasn’t come to him just yet. He reportedly wants to play left tackle and get paid for it. Perhaps the reality of the offers doesn’t live up to his camp’s expectations, but now that the market has been open for a few days, anything can happen. TO UPDATE – Shortly after the release, Brown signed with the Bengals!
Cameron Fleming, RT – Fleming was with the Denver Broncos in 2022, starting in 15 games. He previously played for the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. He’s 30 and has only played two years as a full-time starter, but could be a nice touch to round out the depth and potentially compete with a rookie.
Jermaine Eluemunor, G/T – Eluemunor is 28 years old and played for the Las Vegas Raiders last season. Most of the time, however, he played guard. He started all 17 games last season but was mostly a backup.
Isaiah Wynn, T – Wynn, a former Patriots first-round pick in 2018, came on the market after a disappointing tenure in Boston. Injuries and an up-and-down game plagued him and a move from left to right didn’t go as planned in 2022.
Ben Jones, C – At 33, Jones is on the older side, but was a pro bowler for the Tennessee Titans last season, where he played the last seven seasons. He was originally drafted by the Houston Texans in 2012 and played both guard and center for them.
line of defense
A’Shawn Robinson, DT – The veteran defenseman has been around for a while, coming into the league in the second round of the 2016 draft with the Detroit Lions. But he turns 28 next week. He was with the Los Angeles Rams for the past three seasons and has started 61 of 93 career games. Not a big sack player, but he would be more experienced and better than anything Chicago had last season.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE – It seems like ages since Ngakoue broke out with the Jacksonville Jaguars, was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, and then traded back to the Ravens. He signed with the Raiders and then was traded back to the Indianapolis Colts for Rock Ya-Sin last season. Ngakoue remains productive (19.5 sacks over the last two seasons combined) and young (he turns 28 at the end of the month). But you must be wondering why the teams sent him out so quickly.
Dawuane Smoot, DE – The former Jaguar has spent most of his career in rotation, playing just 17 of the 87 games he has played since joining the league in 2017. But he’s managed to endure three coaching changes and put in a solid performance. He’s had six, 5.5, six and five sacks over the past four seasons. That’s pretty consistent production, even when his snap count wasn’t that high (38 percent, 59 percent, 65 percent, and 44 percent, respectively).
Greg Gaines, DT – Gaines spent the last four years with the Rams, who drafted him in 2019. He has been a consistent rotation player and has earned a starting spot alongside Aaron Donald. Gaines started 25 of the last 59 games for the Rams and played over two-thirds of the snaps. He has 10.5 career sacks and 24 QB hits. At the start of the season he will be 27 years old.
Poona Ford, DT – Poona worked his way up to starting for the Seattle Seahawks the last four seasons after going undrafted from Texas in 2018. He has 7.5 career sacks and has played around 60 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps over the past four years.
Quinton Jefferson, DT – Jefferson is there and has played for three teams, including two stints with the Seahawks, who originally drafted him. Jefferson is close to his 30th birthday but would be a solid veteran proposition. He has 20.5 career sacks.
Michael Brockers, DT – Much like Jefferson, Brockers is a veteran. While Brockers has been around for about 10 years and has been long-lived, it did not see the field last year and was subsequently released last month.
Darius Slay, CB – There are some reports that the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t want to ax Slay when they couldn’t agree to a contract reorganization, so he’s not technically a free agent yet. But the situation is worth watching. TO UPDATE – Slay is off the board and staying in Philly.
Rock Ya-Sin, CB – The Colts’ former second-round pick (when Matt Eberflus was DC, mind you) was shipped to Las Vegas for Ngakoue last season. Could Ya-Sin get back together with his former coach? Perhaps. He turns 27 this season and has experience in that defense. He didn’t live up to the hype of being a second-round pick (two career INTs, high QB rating allowed), but with Kyler Gordon and Jaylon Johnson he wouldn’t be counted on as a starter and could be a depth of quality cheap.
Shaquill Griffin, CB – Griffin has started 72 of 76 career games played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks since coming into the league with Seattle as a third-round pick in 2017. He finished last year at IR but has been solid if unspectacular for his career.
Which players do you want the Bears to pursue?