Jairus Byrd is a nice dream that could solve so many problems for the Chicago Bears, but as far as 2014 NFL free agency goes, he is the fruit that’s too high in the tree. Given how many holes there are for the team to fill on defense alone, they can’t afford to think about one bold move. This off-season must be about a bunch of good free agents over one great one. Here is a list of possible bargains for them to consider.
Clinton McDonald – DT – Seattle Seahawks
Depth along the defensive line is what helped drive the Seattle Seahawks defensive machine in 2013. A key cog that almost nobody talked about during that run was reserve defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Despite limited snaps he still managed 5.5 sacks on the season, demonstrating his ability to disrupt the pocket from the interior.
Robert Ayers – DE – Denver Broncos
Another player who came in only during substitution packages. Yet Robert Ayers made the most of his opportunities. Injuries to Von Miller and the loss of Elvis Dumervil didn’t stop him from creating problems for opposing quarterbacks. In three starts and fifteen games he posted 5.5 sacks. That means at best he’s a terrific rotational pass rusher and could be even better as a full-time starter.
Antoine Bethea – SS – Indianapolis Colts
How a two-time 29-year old Pro Bowl safety isn’t getting more attention in 2014 NFL free agency circles is amazing. Antoine Bethea might quietly be one of the best defensive backs in the entire crop. He’s durable, tough, a good leader and experienced playing in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense. He might not have that long-term upside but if a team like the Chicago Bears needs stability on the back end, he is an excellent choice.
Captain Munnerlyn – CB – Carolina Panthers
He might not be the en vogue type of cornerback who rests his laurels on shutting down receivers every game but Captain Munnerlyn can certainly put versatility at the top of his strengths list. In 2013 he had 74 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two interceptions. He is a nice fit for the Bears scheme and still just 25-years old. Though not a shutdown guy his reliability is evident.
Malcolm Jenkins – FS – New Orleans Saints
Probably the biggest conundrum of 2014 is Malcolm Jenkins. There is no doubt the 25-year old free safety has talent and it flashed a lot. His problem with the New Orleans Saints has been consistency. His stat line of 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions doesn’t look bad though. The Chicago Bears might view him as excellent competition for Chris Conte.
Tags: 2014 Nfl Free Agency Antoine Bethea Captain Munnerlyn Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Clinton Mcdonald Denver Broncos Indianapolis Colts Malcolm Jenkins New Orleans Saints Robert Ayers Seattle Seahawks