Before we get into free agency and the NFL Draft, the Bears have a few huge decisions to make with their own free agents: most notably Adrian Amos, Bryce Callahan and Bobby Massie.
We’ll be taking a look at each player’s past performance, fit on the team and potential contract in evaluating whether or not the Bears should re-sign them over the next few weeks.
First up is strong safety Adrian Amos.
Amos has spent the last four years on the Bears after being selected in the fifth round of Ryan Pace’s inaugural draft in 2015.
He had an immediate impact as a rookie, starting all 16 games on what proved to be a below average defense. Amos showed some promise and hopes were high for him going forward. Unfortunately, he did not take the next step many were expecting of him in 2016.
As the talent around him improved, he then took a step up in 2017 and 2018. This past season he set career highs in tackles (73), interceptions (two in the regular season and one in the playoffs), and pass deflections (nine).
The knock on Amos is he does not have adequate ball skills for the position with only three interceptions in four seasons. This is true especially when you consider all of his interceptions have been on deflected passes. He just is not a player that is going to force a lot of turnovers.
A common misconception about him is this means he is bad in coverage, but that hasn’t been the case especially the last two seasons.
In that time, Amos has been targeted 78 times and surrendered 56 receptions for 442 yards (7.9 yards per reception) and only four touchdowns. For comparison sake, Jets safety Jamal Adams, whom many Bears fans wanted to draft and plays a similar role to Amos, over the last two years has been targeted 94 times for 53 receptions, 688 yards (13 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns.
Pace and Matt Nagy admitted in their postseason press conference that one of the benefits of hiring Chuck Pagano is his scheme being similar to Vic Fangio’s.
They also mentioned Pagano is going to be more aggressive defensively than his predecessor.
His aggressiveness could lead to more safety blitzes – something Fangio did not ask out of the position. When Pagano was the defensive coordinator, his strong safety was Bernard Pollard. Pollard blitzed 64 times in 2011. To compare, Amos only blitzed five times this season and only 11 times in the last three. While this does not mean he is incapable of doing so, it is clearly something he is not used to doing.
Pagano also played Pollard in the box on 31.1 percent of snaps. This season, Amos played in the box at a lesser 25.6 percent rate. In 2017, which was arguably Amos’ best season, he played in the box 32.4 percent of the time. Amos excels the closer he gets to the line of scrimmage so him playing more in the box would make complete sense.
From purely a football, on the field standpoint, I would guess the Bears would love to have Amos stick around. However … it’s not that simple. The type of contract Amos gets will play a large role in him returning, or not.
The best way to estimate his eventual contract is to look at similar players the past few years.
In 2017, two comparable players in terms of age and production were Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid. Both signed one-year deals for $1.5 million and $1.39 million respectively, and both signed late in the offseason and for far less than they were projected. I won’t get into why this happened but you might be able to figure it out yourself.
If the Bears can get Amos at a similar contract, it would be an easy decision. Except, these contracts appear to be outliers.
Going back one more year will give us a better indication of the type of contract he might receive. Here are some similar players based on age and production:
- Micah Hyde (26 years old): 5 years, $30.5 Million, $14 million guaranteed
- John Cyprien (27 years old): 4 years, $25 Million, $9 million guaranteed
- D.J. Swearinger (26 years old): 3 years, $13.5 Million, $9 million guaranteed
Since this was two years ago and contracts are always going up, I would expect him to get a contract similar to Hyde and Cyprien. Something around 4 years, $26 million with $12 million guaranteed seems to be fair.
That might be too much for the Bears to commit to a defensive back who does not create turnovers, but with a deep free agent safety class, his price could drop. If the Bears can get a hometown discount, it could be worth it.
It is also worth noting that if a team does sign Amos, it will give the Bears a good chance of receiving a compensatory draft pick. So that will be weighed into their decision as well.
Verdict: Do Not Re-sign
The Bears won’t be able to sign all three of their big free agents. That’s the reality we live in. After expected cuts, the Bears will have around $27.5 million in cap space and only 35 players under contract.
The Bears simply cannot afford to tie up a good portion of their money into a box safety that does not create turnovers. They will be better off going with a cheaper alternative.
In case you missed it, I outlined a cheap, albeit not as talented, alternative at safety who also has the added benefit of knowing Pagano’s scheme.
They could also choose to go with Deon Bush as his replacement, who got some valuable starting experience at the end of last year.
Come back next week when we take a look at the next free agent on the list: Bryce Callahan.