Tracking Chicago Bears 2021 Free Agents

BearDigest.com's updated list of Bears free agents, their departures and signings for the 2021 free agency market, which began March 17.
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Returning Bears Free Agents

WR Allen Robinson (Franchise Tag, $17.9 million for one year) —It would make sense to get Robinson a new deal because they could turn some of the first-year cash into bonus and save money for their tight cap situation. This far into the game, it seems unlikely Robinson would be traded. They need to decide now what his future could be since it impacts the type of receive they could pursue in the draft.

T/G Germain Ifedi  (Signed by Bears, 1 year, $5 million) — The Bears now must decide whether the 6-5, 329-pound blocker will be lining up at right guard or right tackle. At the moment, tackle looks like the top option. He could have position competition from former Broncos lineman Elijah Wilkinson, who was acquired in free agency. Ifedi played his best last year at guard but wasn't poor at the right tackle spot in the last six games and allowed just one sack then.  

K Cairo Santos (Signed with Bears for 3 years, $9 million) — Santos was a great success story last season as he set Bears records for field goal percentage (93.8%) and consecutive field goals made (26) as a practice squad kicker who was called on to replace injured Eddy Pineiro. Santos played for only $991,000 last year and the Bears have to pay him now or face a return to the kicking uncertainty they had in 2018 and 2019 with Parkey and Pineiro.

Santos turns 30 this season and had one strong season with Kansas City in 2016 (88.6%) before injuries and inconsistency caused him to bounce around the league to the Rams, Buccaneers and Titans before landing in Chicago. This was one free agent the Bears couldn't afford to let get away. They're still counting money against their salary cap for Cody Parkey, a reminder of why they needed this signing.

DE Mario Edwards (Signed with Bears, 3 years, $11.55 million) — After a career-high four sacks last season, Edwards was rewarded despite a domestic violence charge made against him over a situation at the team hotel last year, and an upcoming two-week suspension to start the season for a PED violation.  Cut by the Saints last year,  Edwards had a strong season as a Bears situational tackle in the four-man rush. Pro Football Focus gave Edwards the third-highest grade of all interior defensive linemen in the NFL for 2020, behind only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones. 

S Deon Bush (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1.5 million) — After playing on a one-year deal for $1.4 million in 2020 as the third safety, Bush returns. He failed in an attempt to beat Tashaun Gipson out of a starting spot last year but made his first career interception and has participated on about half of special team snaps over the past four years. He has eight career starts, but just two since his rookie year. 

S DeAndre Houston-Carson (Signed with Bears, 1 year, $990,000, $137,500 bonus) — Like Bush, DHC served as an extra defensive back but proved he can actually play better in the defense than he displayed in the past with his first career interception and also a fourth-down pass defensed to beat Tom Brady.   DHC also has developed into one of the team's best special teams players, possibly second only to Sherrick McManis over the last three years.

P Pat O'Donnell (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1.75 million) — Now 30, O'Donnell is coming off his best overall Bears season and averaged 45.7 per punt, 16th in the league. But it was solid considering he's punting in severe winds on the lakefront at Soldier Field. It was his second-best career average, but he finished tied for third in the NFL at getting punts downed inside the 20 (28) and did it with just five touchbacks.

LS Patrick Scales (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1,047,500, including a $137,500 signing bonus) — Dependable as a player, the only problem the Bears ever had was his unavailability one season due to a knee injury. He's 33 this year, still in his prime for a long snapper.

CB Artie Burns (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $990,000)  Lost his starting job in Pittsburgh, came to the Bears in free agency and then tore an ACL on the second day of  training camp. The Bears are looking for help at cornerback and depth. It's possible he could provide it if he can come back from the knee injury.

Returning Exclusive Rights Free Agents

The Bears have tendered offers to their exclusive rights free agents and retained them: tight end J.P. Holtz ($850,000), outside linebacker James Vaughters ($850,000), inside linebacker Josh Woods ($850,000), guard Alex Bars ($850,000).

Free Agents Signed by Bears

QB Andy Dalton (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $10 million guaranteed including $7 million in signing bonus) — The "Red Rifle" has been told he is the starter this year after playing extensively as a backup for Dallas last year when Dak Prescott was injured. At age 33 now, Dalton last year was given the 16th best quarterback grade in the league by Pro Football Focus. Dalton's bonus money is prorated over three years, with two dummy years (lacking salary) after the 2021 season.

DE Angelo Blackson (Signed with Bears for one year, $1.5 million with $750,000 in bonus money)  The former Cardinals 6-4, 319-pound defensive lineman essentially replaces Roy Robertson-Harris. He has played for Tennessee and Houston, as well, in a six-year career. Last year in Arizona, playing mostly nose tackle, he had career highs of 2 1/2 sacks, eight quarterback hits, 24 tackles and four tackles for loss.  

OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Signed with Bears for one year, $1.65 million with $400,000 in bonus)  Former Denver Broncos edge rusher who is 6-3, 252 pounds, he made five sacks with nine quarterback hits and six tackles for loss in 2020. Overall, he made 31 tackles. Attaochu has started 23 games in seven years and started 10 games over the last two years. He has 20 1/2 career sacks and 42 quarterback hits. He replaces Barkevious Mingo but is more of a pure rusher than Mingo, who was also a coverage linebacker

G/T Elijah Wilkinson (Signed with Bears for one year, $990,000 with a bonus of $137,500) — A swing tackle and guard who has started 26 games and played in 45 during four seasons with Denver. A 6-foot-6, 329-pounder, he started seven games last year and was on injured reserve seven games as a result of a leg injury.

RB Damien Williams (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1.125 million with a $125,000 bonus)  The former Kansas City Chiefs running back who scored the final two touchdowns in his team's Super Bowl LIV win, Williams opted out last year after his big day helped win the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs cut him for cap purposes, to save $2.2 million. 

CB Desmond Trufant (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1.075 million) — The former Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons cornerback has been signed to compete for the left cornerback spot vacated when the Bears cut Kyle Fuller for cap purposes. Trufant has had injury issues the last two years and was cut by the Lions last season after six games. He had a hamstring injury last year and played only six games with Detroit, and played nine the previous season in Atlanta but was plagued by toe and then went on season-ending IR with a broken arm. Now 30 years old, he made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and has 14 career interceptions.

ILB Christian Jones (Signed with Bears for 1 year, $1,075 million with a $137,500 bonus) He returns back where he started his career in 2014 under coach Marc Trestman. Jones has been a starter in five of his seven NFL seasons and started 13 games each of the last two years for the Lions. He's made 439 tackles, 17 for loss, and has averaged half his team's special teams snaps. He has played both inside and outside linebacker, but will likely be used to back up Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith on the inside.

WR Marquise Goodwin (Signed with Bears for 1 year, cash TBA) Goodwin did not play last year as he opted out after being traded by San Francisco to Philadelphia for a sixth-round draft pick. The trade then reverted back to San Francisco due to the opt-out and the 49ers cut him. Goodwin figures to vie for time at the "Z" receiver spot outside where Darnell Mooney plays, much as Ted Ginn Jr. attempted to do. Goodwin ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2013 combine and competed for the U.S. Olympic team in the 2012 London Olympics in the long jump.  Goodwin first played for Buffalo and was plagued by injuries, playing in just 39 of a possible 64 games for his first contract. For the 49ers, he was in 36 of a possible 48 games. He has 140 receptions for 2,323 yards and 13 TDs in seven seasons.

S Tashaun Gipson (Signed with Bears for 1 year, cash TBA) — Gipson proved he still is a viable starter at age 30 last season with a one-year, $1 million deal and will return for one more year. He tied for the team lead in interceptions last year with two and had a better PFF grade (72.0) than all but 17 other NFL safeties, including Eddie Jackson. Gipson had been projected at $2.75 million a year by Pro Footbal Focus. 

Bears Free Agents Who Signed Elsewhere

QB  Mitchell Trubisky (Signed with Buffalo, 1 year, $2.5 million) — The much-maligned second pick of the 2017 draft finished his four-year Bears run. He had been slated to receive $24.8 million for 2021 on his fifth-year contract option but the team declined it in May, 2020.  

Trubisky is coming off his best year at completion percentage (67%) and had his second-highest passer rating (93.5). He had 16 TD passes to eight interceptions for 10 games, including nine starts. He also had the NFL's second-worst completion percentage in passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus (46.2%). The worst average belonged to Carson Wentz (45.4%). In 2019 he tied for the NFL lead at throwing interceptions in the red zone (4).

Trubisky was 29-21 as Bears starter. 

DE Roy Robertson-Harris (Signed with Jacksonville for 3 years, $23.4 million) Robertson-Harris outgrew his role and pay grade as the fourth Bears lineman on a three-man line. He was an undrafted UTEP linebacker who put on weight and converted to the line, and showed the availability to come off blocks and make plays. Last year the Bears knew he would be pursued if tendered at a lower level of restricted free agency so they tendered him at $3.3 million and kept him around for a year. In 2020, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at midseason. Robertson-Harris had a very productive Bears career, and his 7 1/2 sacks with 75 tackles probably don't indicate it enough. His 30 quarterback hits do.

KR Cordarrelle Patterson (Signed with Atlanta for 1 year, and a reported $3 million) — Second all-time in NFL kick return average (29.9), Patterson cost the Bears $5.25 million last year and $4.23 million in 2019. Patterson, who is 30 this seaosn, had just one total offensive TD with two kick-return TDs in Chicago for two seasons. Last year they paid him about twice the level of other top kick returners, according to Spotrac.com. Patterson was the highest-paid kick returner in the league and led the NFC in kick return average while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl status for the fourth time. Patterson helped the Bears finish seventh in average starting field position for drives with his returns, and on offense had a career-high 64 rushing attempts and gained just 3.6 yards a carry with a long run of 13 yards in 2020. He has 32 receptions in two Bears seasons.

DE Brent Urban (Signed a 1-year, $1.75 million deal with Dallas) — Like Robertson-Harris, Urban took to the coaching from Jay Rodgers in Chicago and went from a Titans castoff to a valued extra edge who stops the run well while occasionally getting after a quarterback. His Dallas deal is guaranteed and included a $500,000 signing bonus, according to Spotrac.com. Although he's largely a run stuffer, Urban's pass rush off the edge at Kirk Cousins on a bootleg pass on fourth down helped earn a victory over Minnesota in 2020 and ultimately a playoff berth. 

OLB Barkevious Mingo (Signed with Atlanta Falcons for 1 year, $1.075 million)  The versatile, 6-5, 235-pound athletic reserve performer and special teams ace had 2 1/2 sacks last year, the most he's had since his rookie season. He's a nine-year veteran who is now 31. 

OL Rashaad Coward (Signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 1 year, $990,000) — Once thought of as a starter, he didn't live up to expectations after being moved from tackle to guard. Coward originally was a defensive lineman converted by the Bears to offensive line. 

NT John Jenkins (Signed with Miami Dolphins for 1 year, $1.212 million with $150,000 guaranteed and $50,000 bonus) — Brought back for second stint in Chicago last year because of the opt-out by Goldman,  Jenkins suffered through a few minor injuries and played solid football when healthy. Now he'll have a second stint with the Dolphins.

PR/WR DeAndre Carter (Signed with Washington for 1 year, $920,000 with a $50,000 signing bonus) — Was not tendered an offer as a restricted free agent and is now an unrestricted free agent after serving briefly last year as a replacement return man following Tarik Cohen's and Dwayne Harris' season-ending injuries, as well as the release of veteran Ted Ginn Jr. He had to wind up playing wide receiver against the Saints in the playoffs because Darnell Mooney was injured and Anthony Miller was ejected.

Bears Free Agents Who Are Unsigned

K Eddy Pineiro — As a restricted free agent, the Bears chose not to tender him an offer sheet which would have required paying him $2.1 million. He is an unrestricted free agent now. If league owners decided to allow for expanded practice squads again this year, it wouldn't be a shock if the Bears offered him a practice squad contract to return, provided he's over the groin injury issue which put him on injured reserve last year. Pineiro cost the Bears a seventh-round draft pick when they acquired him in 2019 from the Raiders.

S Sherrick McManis — The longest-tenured Bear, he's been here since Lovie Smith's last year in 2012 and keeps coming back as a gunner and backup defensive back at the minimum salary or close to it. He'll turn 34 late in the season and it's possible he's done now in Chicago. He played on a $1.1 million deal last year. Not only was he the leading special teams tackler for the fifth time in six years, but he produced the clinching interception on a Hail Mary pass as an extra defensive back in the critical win over the Minnesota Vikings at Minneapolis.

TE Demetrius Harris — A third tight end brought to the team because of his system knowledge from earlier years in Kansas City, and because he was also to help mentor Cole Kmet. Harris wasn't really a contributor on offense with only seven catches on 14 targets. He played a role in special teams. The Bears do like his blocking ability. At 30 now in 2021, he has made 79 career receptions as a backup but played at $1.65 million last year.

T Jason Spriggs — An often-injured insurance policy as a swing tackle, he suffered another injury then other issues when they needed to lean on him and it would be difficult to see how he'd fit in  this season after the Bears signed Elijah Wilkinson. 

PR Dwayne Harris — A return man who didn't get much chance to produce due to an triceps tear. He was brought in after Tarik Cohen's season-ending ACL tear. At 34 this season, it's unlikely he'd be brought back unless they had another injury disaster.

NT Daniel McCullers — A former Steelers fill-in and massive, veteran nose tackle at 6-7, 352, he'll turn 29 this season. He played at a $1.05 million rate over part of 2020. If Eddie Goldman returns this year and the Bears seem covered at nose tackle because Goldman and Bilal Nichols  can both play there.  

Bears Salary Cap Cut Victims

  • The option on tackle Bobby Massie's contract was not picked up, saving the Bears $5.4 million in salary cap space.
  • Nickel cornerback Buster Skrine was released, saving the Bears $2.7 million overall against the cap.
  • Cornerback Kyle Fuller. The Bears cut him for cap purposes and he signed with the Denver Broncos for one year and $9.5 million. It was reported by the Chicago Tribune that he refused to take a pay cut, as the team sought to restructure his deal. Fuller counts for $9 million of the Bears' current total of $16.7 million in dead cash against their cap.

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