A breakdown of the initial wave of free agency for the Chicago Bears:
Overall grade: B. The Bears addressed several needs on paper – wide receiver, cornerback, tight end, backup quarterback and outside linebacker – but free agency is risky. Chicago spent plenty of money, but that doesn’t always translate to success on the field. Remember, the Bears were praised by many for their free-agent haul of Mike Glennon, Marcus Cooper, Markus Wheaton, Quintin Demps and Dion Sims in 2017 -- almost all of whom have been released or brought back at a reduced salary.
Most significant signing: wide receiver Allen Robinson. The Bears guaranteed Robinson $25.2 million over three years based on the numbers he put up in 2015-16 for the Jacksonville Jaguars – the 24-year-old wideout had a career-high 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns three seasons ago. Robinson, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 1 last year, was signed to take pressure off of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who started eight games as a rookie. General manager Ryan Pace also aggressively pursued wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency, but Robinson expressed a greater interest in joining the Bears. And the Bears landed Robinson for slightly less money.
Most significant loss: Linebacker Pernell McPhee. The Bears couldn’t justify keeping McPhee at $7.2 million in 2017, but his leadership and candor inside the locker room will be missed. McPhee, who began his career in Baltimore, wasn’t afraid to hold teammates accountable. At this stage of his career, McPhee has been reduced to part-time player – he battled health problems throughout his three-year tenure in Chicago -- but he was one of the club's most outspoken leaders.
Player they should have signed: cornerback Malcolm Butler. The Bears went after Butler in free agency, but the former New England Super Bowl hero opted instead to sign a five-year deal with Tennessee that contained $30 million in guaranteed money. Pairing Butler, who fell out of favor with the Patriots at the end of last year, and Kyle Fuller, who the club initially designated as their transition player before matching an offer sheet submitted by the Green Bay Packers, at cornerback would've given the Bears a ferocious secondary. Chicago instead re-signed Prince Amukamara when Butler chose to play for the Titans.
Key additions: Allen Robinson, wide receiver; Trey Burton, tight end; Taylor Gabriel, wide receiver; Chase Daniel, quarterback; Cody Parkey, kicker; Aaron Lynch, linebacker; Kyle Fuller, cornerbacks (re-signed); Prince Amukamara, cornerback (re-signed); Sam Acho, linebacker (re-signed); Pat O'Donnell, punter (re-signed).
Key subtractions: Pernell McPhee, linebacker; Mike Glennon, quarterback; Markus Wheaton, wide receiver; Quintin Demps, safety; Willie Young, linebacker; Josh Sitton, offensive guard; Jerrell Freeman, linebacker.
What’s next: The Bears still have plenty of work to do. The club’s decision to decline Sitton’s team option creates a hole at left guard. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson – a projected top-10 pick – was coached by new Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand in college. The Bears also need more help at linebacker, where Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Georgia’s Roquan Smith probably will be available when Chicago picks eighth overall next month. The Bears are in prime position to land an impact player at No. 8 since so many teams in front of them are expected to select quarterbacks in Round 1.