Bears' Options After Failing to Find a Safety in Draft

There is still post-draft safety talent available in free agency after the Bears failed to address this issue but injured players and spotty performances might make their current options a better choice
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The bad news from the Bears draft was the lack of a safety to compete with the group including Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Kentrell Brice and Jordan Lucas for the starting spot alongside Eddie Jackson.

There's more bad news and it came from all the moving around on draft day they did. They have to pay more of their limited remaining salary cap space for their draft pool.

The good news is it's only $68,425 more to pay two fifth-rounders instead of two sixth-rounders and one seventh-rounder a few picks earlier. The individual draft pick slot figures came courtesy of Spotrac.com figures.

So $68,425 is about the cost of a Jaguar, the car, not the football player.

The Bears have about $10.2 million left according to Spotrac.com and can afford one more free agent, although they do need $5.8 million for their draft picks.

They could simply go with what they have and hope someone steps forward. Maybe Bush can start after being in Chicago for four seasons without breaking through.

There are safeties available still elsewhere. Some have injury issues and the pandemic freeze can keep teams from looking at the players until it ends. Here are the most eligible.

Tony Jefferson

The demand remains great on social media for Jefferson, anyway. It's a logical move if the cost is reasonable. They may need more restructuring of other deals or to sign Allen Robinson II to a contract extension to recoup some of the $10.9 in salary due this year by prorating some of it in bonus money over the course of the extension. There's no question when Jefferson is healthy, he's the top remaining free agent safety. It's a big "if" considering his torn ACL last October. Prior to then he'd started full or half of five straight seasons and averaged 81 tackles, which is a good amount for someone who is a strong safety type. Jefferson came a few years after Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano left, so he's not familiar with him but the Ravens' defensive system isn't entirely unlike the one used by the Bears. He can get back into coverage but is at his best playing closer to the line. He's still 28, so age isn't a concern here.

Eric Reid

Considering health and all other factors, Reid might be the best candidate. He has ideal size and speed. He's 6-foot-1, 213 pounds. One drawback would be the money for a player who is has been in the league seven seasons and is still only 28. He made an astounding 130 tackles last season, although his completion percentage against was up from 57.1% to 77.1% according to Sportradar statistics. The reason Reid isn't signed is likely to be a combination of salary demands and the concern over his past as Colin Kaepernick's sidekick in San Francisco during the Star Spangled Banner kneeling campaign.

Tavon Wilson

A 30-year-old worth exploring but the Bears have had enough experience beating Detroit secondaries that they might not want to look this way. It's been one of the few secondaries their quarterbacks have beaten on a regular basis. Still, Wilson has a four-year background with the Patriots first and didn't become a starter until 2016 with Detroit. He's versatile enough to play back in coverage or come into the box. The last two years his passer ratings against were 94.5 and 92.2. He missed 10% and 11.7% of his tackles in those seasons.

Clayton Geathers

He has versatility to play back or up in the box as both a free safety and strong safety and played for Pagano with the Colts for three seasons, mostly as a reserve. He did get starter status the last two seasons. With just one interception in five seasons and spotty in pass coverage, he's not an ideal candidate.

Morgan Burnett

The Bears already have a former Packer club going with Jason Spriggs, Jimmy Graham and Kentrell Brice. Why not add another? Burnett is 31 now and coming off an Achilles injury, which landed him on injured reserve. That's a difficult injury to get past as a safety. He played for Pittsburgh and Cleveland the last two years before the injury after eight years in Green Bay as a starter.

Eric Berry

Heel and foot injuries plagued Berry for his last two years with the Chiefs, and the five-time Pro Bowl player sat out last year. He hasn't started more than two games since 2016, but says he's making a comeback. The success and legacy are there, the body might not be willing. At age 31, he'd have to be checked out physically and there has to be concern whether he could handle the physical nature of strong safety after nine years in the league and all the injuries he's had. On the positive side, he does know Matt Nagy from Kansas City.

Jahleel Addae

Now 30, Addae had a one-year stop in Houston after six with the Chargers and became a reserve last year after starting in San Diego and L.A. At 5-10, 195, he's undersized as a strong safety but still averaged almost 60 tackles a year.

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