While the Chicago Bears continue to tip toe through the 2021 NFL free agent market, with just quarterback Andy Dalton signed and cornerback Desmond Trufant reportedly in the fold, it seems like a good idea to take a fairly deep dive and analyze Ryan Pace’s first six free agent classes as general manager while we wait to see what will happen this year.
|Pernell McPhee||Sam Acho||Antrel Rolle||Eddie Royal|
|Alan Ball||Vladimir Ducasse||Mason Foster||Thomas Gafford|
|Jarvis Jenkins||Will Montgomery||Dante Rosario||Jacquizz Rodgers|
Pace arrived in January of 2015 inheriting arguably the worst locker room in the NFL and set about a complete rebuild, so a number of signings in his first free agent class were more placeholders than building blocks.
McPhee was the centerpiece of the group but knee issues plagued his entire stay in Chicago, causing him to miss 12 starts and notch just 19 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and six, four and four sacks in his three seasons as a Bear.
Not awful but nowhere near what was expected.
Acho was a solid contributor for three-plus seasons. Ball was OK in is one year with the team, and Royal was productive when on the field but that was only for nine games in 2015 and again in 2016.
Rolle and Foster were major disappointments. Grade: C.
|Akiem Hicks||Danny Trevathan||Bobby Massie||Josh Sitton|
|Ted Larsen||Jerrell Freeman||Omar Bolden||Manny Ramirez|
Pace got hot in Year 2, knocking it out of the park with Hicks and Trevathan, getting excellent value and participation from Massie and Sitton, and an excellent utility man in Larsen.
Ramirez ended up retiring and never played a down for the Bears, and Freeman was a major disappointment due to injury and failed P.E.D. tests that knocked him out of the league.
Still, this group was a home run. Grade: A-.
|Mike Glennon||Mark Sanchez||Quintin Demps||Prince Amukamara|
|Benny Cunningham||Marcus Cooper||John Jenkins||Markus Wheaton|
|Kendall Wright||Tom Compton||Dion Sims|
The narrative that Glennon was some huge miss is simply untrue. He was brought in as a one-year bridge to Mitch Trubisky, his contract was easy to dispose of after the first year, and he got only four starts, his last including four picks with two bouncing off receivers’ hands and was benched as John Fox turned to Trubisky early to try and save his job.
It was a bad signing but nowhere near the disaster people paint it as.
Amukamara proved an excellent addition. Jenkins was mediocre and left for two seasons but returned this year and played well. Cooper, Cunningham and Wright all made some solid contributions. Grade: C+.
|Allen Robinson||Taylor Gabriel||Trey Burton||Aaron Lynch|
|Cody Parkey||Chase Daniel|
Robinson was one of Pace’s best moves as a G.M., along with signing Hicks. Lynch, Gabriel, Burton and Daniel all made significant contributions to the playoff run that season. Along with the Khalil Mack trade, they helped make Pace the NFL Executive of the Year.
Obviously Parkey was a disaster, and Burton and Gabriel didn’t have much staying power after their first seasons. Grade: B+.
|Cordarrelle Patterson||Buster Skrine||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Mike Davis|
|Marvin Hall||Ted Larsen|
Patterson has been one of the team’s MVP’s the last two seasons. Skrine gave them a season and a half of very good play at the nickel before coming apart the second half of this season. Clinton-Dix was a solid addition – a very similar player to Adrian Amos, who left for three times what Pace paid Clinton-Dix.
Davis was a mistake, Hall a non-factor and Larsen not as valuable in his second go around with the team. Grade: B-.
|Robert Quinn||Tashaun Gipson||Jimmy Graham||Germain Ifedi|
|Jason Spriggs||Mario Edwards Jr.||Barkevious Mingo||Demetrius Harris|
|Artie Burns||Tre Roberson||Ted Ginn Jr.|
This is the toughest one to grade because of the lack of production from Quinn – the show pony in the group – but it’s easy to see him bouncing back in 2021 and bringing value.
Gipson, Graham and Ifedi were all actually as good as or even a tad better than advertised, especially Graham whose signing was widely panned but turned out to be a nice add. And Edwards Jr. turned out to be a keeper. Grade: B/incomplete (Quinn).