The Chicago Bears' updated free-agent class does not include a single player ranked in the top 40 of ESPN’s top 150 free-agent list.
That did not stop Bears general manager Ryan Pace from guaranteeing substantial money.
The largest deal, of course, went to quarterback Mike Glennon, who is guaranteed $16 million in 2017. Glennon hasn’t started in two years, but $16 million is below average for an NFL starting quarterback. Pace smartly limited Glennon’s guarantees beyond Year 1 to just $2 million; meaning the rest of the three-year deal is essentially pay as you go after the first season.
At cornerback, though, the Bears were not shy about paying Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper starters’ money. Amukamara, who’s battled injuries much of his career, is signed for $7 million guaranteed in 2017. He’s automatically on the first team. And Cooper, who had a breakout year for Arizona in 2016, is guaranteed $6 million next season. Of Cooper’s projected $5 million base salary in 2018, $2 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the next league year. Even if Cooper doesn’t see the second year of his contract -- for whatever reason -- he’s being paid to start in the upcoming season.
For the sake of comparison, Chicago paid veteran Tracy Porter $4.5 million last year.
Tight end Dion Sims is primarily an in-line blocker, but he’s making $6 million in 2017. Of Sims’ projected $6 million base salary in 2018, $4 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the next league year. For $6 million, Sims ought to be a one-man wrecking crew on the line. Sims does have the skill set to catch the football, but he only had 26 catches for 256 yards and four touchdowns in his final season with Miami.
Again, for comparison’s sake, Zach Miller’s base salary is $1.5 million. He can also earn $1 million in roster bonuses if he’s active for all 16 games. Obviously, Miller is much older and coming off another injury, but the difference in salary between Sims and Miller is high.
Safety Quintin Demps, who turns 32 in June, pockets $5 million guaranteed in 2017.
New wide receiver Markus Wheaton’s deal calls for $6 million in total guarantees. Wheaton missed almost all of last season because of a labrum injury that required surgery. Alshon Jeffery’s total guarantee in Philadelphia is $8.75 million.
Don’t let anyone say that the Bears don’t spend money. Whether Chicago spends money wisely is what remains to be seen.