Keep: Kyle Fuller CB
- The Bears have all three of their starting corners hitting free agency this off season. The most important one to keep in my opinion would be Kyle Fuller their former first rounder who has the most upside among the trio. He was finally healthy this season and looked to be a great fit in Vic Fangio's defense turning into one of the best cover corners in the league. It is a tad worrisome that he finally put it all together in his contract season, but I trust Fangio's ability to coach players up. If he remains healthy and continues to improve he should turn into a key piece on one of the more underrated defenses in the league. He will not be coming cheap most likely being a key target free agent for many teams so giving him a franchise tag may have to be the best option to make sure he does not leave.
Cut: Mike Glennon QB, Pernell McPhee OLB, Josh Sitton OG, Dion Sims TE, Jerrell Freeman LB
- I may be cheating here as a fan of the Bears, but they really do have a handful of players that could be obvious cut candidates. Obviously, Glennon will be one saving them $11 million, letting him go for obvious reasons. Then Pernell McPhee has been sapped of his talents from the myriad of injuries he has had over the years. While he is a good vocal leader the price tag and production are just not equaling out. Cutting him would save another $7 million. Josh Sitton is a bit of a surprise cut, but they have some depth options behind him to take his place. While he is a great guard when healthy he has been getting nicked up a lot lately making this line become unstable more often than not. Letting him go would save $7 million and at pick #8 could be an ideal landing spot for Quenton Nelson. Dion Sims is a one dimensional tight end who was an odd signing last year to begin with. Letting him go would save $5 million and clear out more room for Adam Shaheen to get more playing time. Jerrell Freeman should get cut too after his second PED suspension and his sudden admitance to already having memory lose. He is clearly unstable at this point and cutting him would allow Nick Kwiatkoski to get a full starting job. All in all after these cuts it would give the Bears a massive $83 million in cap space to land more useful players. You know what adding Markus Wheaton and Marcus Cooper to that list would bump it up to an even $90 million so they can get more sure talent than buy low candidates like they have been doing during this rebuild.
Sign: Jarvis Landry WR Miami Dolphins
- There is no doubt that the Bears need to get more receivers to pair with young Mitchell Trubisky if they want him to continue to develop. They could still have Cameron Meredith, and Dontrelle Inman on cheap deals, but they still need to do better than that. If Landry ends up hitting the open market the Bears should make a run after him. Landry has been a virtual catching machine for the Dolphins the past few seasons and would be a perfect fit for new coach Matt Nagy's West Coast system. I know he is not a true dominant number one option, but he is much better than what they have and would be a terrific slot option for Trubisky to lean on.
Ideal Draft Pick: Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
- I doubt Bradley Chubb gets past the Bucs, which is why I have Nelson here instead. If they do cut Sitton they would then be in need to land a guard and why not land one of the safest prospects in the draft. An added bonus is that the Bears just locked up former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand who coached Nelson. That way there would not be any risk of a huge learning period with his old coach knowing how to work with him. He along with Cody Whitehair and if Kyle Long can stay healthy could give them an interior line that could rival Dallas' talented interior.
Keep: Ezekiel Ansah DE
- Ansah is one of the top edge rushers hitting free agency along with DeMarcus Lawrence of Dallas. I am a tad down on him like I am with Lawrence,
but I understand how big of a need good rushers can be in this pass happy league. Ansah has me wanting more with his athletic upside and talent almost bubbling to the surface. However, he just has not put it all together whether it be injuries or a lack of talent around him, he just has not been that much of a game changing talent yet. The Lions would be best off franchise tagging him and finding a compliment rusher through the draft or free agency to see how he can play with better teammates. If he continues to underwhelm then they should bite the bullet and let him go.
Cut: Eric Ebron TE
- Unlike Chicago who have been failing on many smaller signings that have come back to bite them. The Lions really do not have any outstanding contracts that need to be moved. With a comfortable $49 million in cap space the Lions really do not have to make much space unless they want to bring in high priced defensive linemen. One guy they could do without is Eric Ebron who finally started looking good last year, but still drops too many passes to my liking. Cutting him would save about $8 million in cap space to maybe allow them make a run at Jimmy Graham who would be an upgrade.
Sign: Adrian Clayborne DE Atlanta Falcons
- The Lions could use an upgrade across from Ziggy Ansah to clear out more space for him if they do keep him. Seeing as how the pool for quality edge rushers is shallow this year in the draft I think dabbling in free agency may be a smarter choice. One guy who could come at a reasonable contract would be Clayborne who has quietly turned into a well rounded end. He is an accomplished edge setter in the run game and is a solid enough pass rusher to get the job done. I think he would be a perfect smart signing and turn into one of the better ones long term this off season with his high floor.
Ideal Draft Pick: Da'Ron Payne DT Alabama
- I know running back may be the knee jerk move here, but this is a terrific running back class and that normally causes good backs to slide as more valued positions get reached for. Instead, more improvements on their defensive line to pair with their solid secondary would be a great idea. Da'Ron Payne is going to get the stigma of broken down Alabama defenders hitting the pros, but he is a tad different than his predecessors. For one he has been healthy throughout his career and another reason is the fact that he was hidden behind a talented starting crop having spent most of his career thus far on the bench. In his first full season as a starter this year he was a monster in every aspect. There is still a lot of upside here and he would be a nice upgrade over the aging Haloti Ngata who is set to be a free agent anyways.
Green Bay Packers:
Keep: Morgan Burnett S
- The Packers just locked up Corey Linsley and Davante Adams, which is nice and all, but they forgot about Burnett who is a better player than both of them in my opinion. One a relatively shaky secondary, Burnett was the only one to play not only good, but very good and one of the best in the league. He is a great all around safety with good talent in coverage and tenacity attacking the run game. His veteran savvy instincts also makes him a solid safety who should fit anywhere he goes. They still have cap space to keep him, but I could see them letting him walk anyways like many other talented defensive backs over the years.
Cut: Clay Matthews OLB
- This will be an unpopular move in Green Bay since Matthews is such a likable character. However, you need to see past your love of a player to see what he has really become. He is an aging talent at 31 who has lost a ton of his speed after so many injuries. Matthews even before that was never an athletic freak and won more of his match ups with his energy. With so much of his stamina gone now he looks like a practice squad member more often than not. Sure he can give you a spark of what he once was, but now he is more of a liability than anything else. Cutting him would save them about $11 million that could allow them to resign Morgan Burnett. It also creates more room for them to resign Aaron Rodgers who is going to be a free agent in a few years and they should start looking to save some money sooner than later for him.
Sign: Jimmy Graham TE Seattle Seahawks
- The Packers have been shy to give Aaron Rodgers actual talent to throw to. In my opinion, Jordy Nelson's, Randall Cobb's, and Davante Adams' success has all been tied to Rodgers. If they were else where I think they would just be middling talents who would have trouble sustaining success on their own. The front office should go and get Rodgers some real talent, which could be Jimmy Graham who can finally give him a dynamic tight end option to throw to. It may be difficult to convince him to move to frigid Green Bay, but having an opportunity to win and play with Rodgers could sell him into going there.
Ideal Draft Pick: Derwin James S Florida St
- There really is not a dominant edge rusher available outside of maybe Marcus Davenport where they would be picking, but he is more of a project than a sure fire stud. Instead, they could land a guy like Derwin James who could be a true difference maker on a shaky secondary. James is a blue chip prospect who has a rare blend of size and speed to fly around on a defense. He could slide as teams move around seeking quarterbacks and other more pressing positions. James would be a signature pull for the Packers who land a top talent while other teams over think things.
Keep: Teddy Bridgewater QB
- The Vikings have a great GM in Rick Spielman, which baffles me on how he got himself in this conundrum where they could lose three starting quality quarterbacks. They have to keep at least one out of the group of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum. I think they lean towards Bridgewater their former number one pick. He looked really great in his brief time as the starter and has a lot more upside than Bradford or Keenum who are both in their 30s. I also feel like Keenum will be a hot free agent who will get overpaid by a desperate team. While the Vikings could keep Bridgewater on a cheaper and short term deal as he reestablishes himself.
Cut: Sharrif Floyd DT
- The Vikings for a team on the verge of being Super Bowl contenders they actually do not have many over priced players who need to be cut to make space. With $56 million they really have no reason to cut someone unless they want to make a run for Kirk Cousins. However, a guy they can cut is Floyd who may just retire after the nerve damage injury he suffered in his knee. With him gone it would save about $6 million for them to use elsewhere. Plus, even before the injury the former first rounder has not really made a consistent impact like you would hope.
Sign: Dontari Poe DT Atlanta Falcons
- The Vikings are going to have a need at defensive tackle this off season if Floyd retires and their depth like Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen leave in free agency. I am not the biggest fan of Poe due to his lethargy and injury history. However, when on his game and healthy he can be a bull in the middle of a defense. Putting him next to Linval Joseph could give the Vikings one of the hardest fronts to run on. Poe signed with the Falcons on a relatively cheap one year deal so I cannot see how the Vikings could not sign him for a cheap deal as well.
Ideal Draft Pick: Taven Bryan DT Florida
- I am sure they would love to get Da'Ron Payne or Vita Vea instead. However, that is very unlikely to happen. Instead, they could land a guy like Taven Bryan who has three-technique written all over him and could help bridge the gap from losing so many tackles this off season. He has a ton of upside to develop due to his rare blend of size and athleticism. His stamina and technique need work, but in this weaker draft class he could be a hot commodity rising up to the first round.