Cut Defensive Backs Fit Possible Need Area for Bears
With the Bears facing the prospect of more financial attrition in the defensive seocndary, any experienced entries into the free agent pool have to attract their attention.
Last year it was Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos they lost, this year it could be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Prince Amukamara.
On Friday the Baltimore Ravens announced they had cut safety Tony Jefferson. Down the road a ways, the Washington Redskins cut cornerback Josh Norman. And Ian Rapoport reported Friday the Houston Texans had cut cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
The pool of potential players in the secondary will grow from now until free agency begins. Whether it includes Clinton-Dix and Amukamara depends on what the Bears are able to do or want to do with current contracts to free up money under the salary cap.
If they have interest in Jefferson they would be attracted by the fact he is more of a strong safety. By using Clinton-Dix in the secondary last season, they had to use Eddie Jackson closer to the line of scrimmage in run support at times and this isn't the best way to use a ball hawk's skills. Jefferson would be considered more like Amos was in Chicago.
He has played seven seasons but last year posted a horrendous 141.4 passer rating against and his missed tackles percentage has crept up the last two years to 10% and 16%. He played for Arizona before he was with the Ravens.
Norman is a former All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback who started with the Panthers and then moved on to the Redskins. An eight-year veteran, he is now 32 and had a three-year stretch with each team from 2014-16 when he made 48 pass breakups and nine interceptions.
There is no doubt his production has waned with just four interceptions and 24 pass breakups over the last three years with bad Washington teams. His passer rating against has soared to 109.3 and 129.0 the last two years. However, his tackling remains solid and last season he gave up only 71 yards after the catch in a 12-game season. His season was shortened by a hamstring injury.
The Bears haven't really been too thrilled with the thought of bringing in older defensive backs over the years. When they did, the results weren't good. Quintin Demps and Marcus Cooper were examples of this.
In Hargreaves, age isn't a problem. He will be 25 when the season begins and was in his fourth season when Tampa Bay released him. The Texans picked him and then also released him.
Hargreaves' passer rating against the last two years was a concern. It increased to 96.7 and then 116.1. But his 2018 season ended early with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 1 and last year he had to contend with learning a new defense.
When players are released twice in a year, their next signing can be expected to be for less money. Hargreaves is no common waiver-wire pickup. He was chosen two picks after Leonard Floyd, 11th overall in the 2016 draft.