Most significant signing: The addition of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee should give the Chicago Bears the most long-term value of the team's three signings. But in the short term, the addition of safety Antrel Rolle should be Chicago's most significant signing to date in part because of the horrid play at the position in recent years. The Bears haven't fielded a defense with consistent playmakers at safety in more than five years. So although Rolle is 32 years old, he brings a playmaking element (nine interceptions and two forced fumbles over the past two seasons), but more importantly, he provides leadership on a defense that has lost its way over the past three years. Chicago ranked 30th against the pass in 2014, and was one of just three teams to give up an average opponent passer rating of 100 or better. The defense ranked No. 30 overall in each of the past two seasons and also ranked 30th and 31st in points allowed in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Most significant loss: The Bears traded a seventh-round pick and receiver Brandon Marshall to New York in exchange for the Jets' fifth-round pick. The move sent away perhaps Chicago's most significant weapon on offense, and instead of working to replace Marshall's production with a top-flight receiver, the team added veteran Eddie Royal, signing him to a three-year contract worth $10 million guaranteed. Over the past two seasons, Chicago's quarterbacks put up a total QBR of 70.2 with Marshall on the field and just 3.33 when he wasn't in the lineup, according to ESPN Stats & Information. So there's no doubt Marshall helped to make Chicago's quarterbacks better. Can Royal do the same? Royal possesses the ability to play opposite Alshon Jeffery as a No. 2 receiver. But it's more likely the Bears ask Royal to operate out of the slot mostly in 2015. So Chicago will definitely be in the market, whether through free agency or the draft, for a No. 2 wideout.
Biggest surprise: Given all the needs on defense, especially in the secondary, it's somewhat surprising the Bears have moved so slowly in making acquisitions. In the first week of free agency, the Bears signed McPhee, Rolle and Royal. McPhee is an ascending talent, but the Bears need to bring in more players on defense who fit that description. Chicago did attempt to sign Kansas City safety Ron Parker to pair with Rolle, but he ultimately decided to re-sign with the Chiefs. The Bears have also been in discussions with Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster, but the sides remained far apart on terms.
What's next? Teams all around the league seemed to be making major moves through trades or big-money acquisitions, while the Bears remained mostly quiet during the first wave of free agency. But Chicago isn't done by a long shot, and it's expected most of the team's moves will come during the second wave of free agency, where the Bears might be able to scoop up some deep discounts. The Bears need to continue adding to the defense, and could be looking to bring in at least one more safety, another cornerback and inside linebackers. New general manager Ryan Pace seems to be taking a meticulous approach toward building the 2015 Bears. So don't expect the Bears to come out of free agency labeled as winners, which is fine by Pace and new coach John Fox, as games aren't won on paper.