The Chicago Bears haven’t made a lot of headline-grabbing moves this offseason, though that’s been by design.
New general manager Ryan Poles is engineering a rebuild in Chicago, which means the 2022 season will essentially be a “reset year” for the Bears.
Chicago wants to be competitive under new head coach Matt Eberflus this season, but they’re more concerned about building a solid foundation for the future of the franchise. That’s why the Bears have tried to make financially savvy moves this offseason, instead of going all-in on the free-agent market.
While this is the right approach by Poles and the front office, there’s also still room for some moves to be made.
In fact, there’s one under-the-radar free agent that could be a smart signing for the Bears.
Former Tennessee Vols linebacker Alexander Johnson is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. And he’s a player that Chicago could sign for fairly cheap.
Johnson was a standout linebacker at Tennessee, but he went undrafted after he was accused of rape in late 2014.
The former Vol was acquitted of the chargers in 2018 and signed a free-agent deal with the Denver Broncos shortly after.
Johnson has 249 tackles in 38 career games with the Broncos. In 2019, he finished the season as the fourth-highest graded linebacker in the NFL (Pro Football Focus). The biggest reason that Johnson is still available is because he suffered a torn pectoral last season and he’s already 30 years old.
This would be a low-risk/high-reward move for a Bears team that could certainly use another linebacker.
Chicago has Nicholas Morrow and Roquan Smith penciled in as two of the starters at linebacker. Free-agent addition Matthew Adams, who played under Eberflus with the Indianapolis Colts, is currently holding down the third linebacker spot. The Bears, however, could use competition for Adams (and some depth). Adams has played in 58 career games and he’s totaled just 55 tackles.
Johnson would likely be an upgrade at the third linebacker position. And even though the Bears are expected to run a lot of two-linebacker sets, this is still a free agent move that could pay major dividends for Chicago.
Poles has made team-friendly deals a priority this offseason and signing Alexander Johnson would certainly fall into that category.
Featured image via David Banks-USA TODAY Sports