Emma: Bears Set To Be Busy In Free Agency

By Chris Emma–

(CBS) Staying true to form, general manager Ryan Pace promised to be calculated and composed in free agency and a pivotal period for his Bears.

Despite all the noise from the first day of “legal tampering” in the NFL, it seems Pace will follow his word.

The Bears have their ducks in a row after a busy day of working the phones. Wednesday could see discussions turn into verbal agreements, with 3 p.m. CT on Thursday marking the time in which deals can become official. What’s clear is that the Bears will be busy.

Pace is ready to make a splash — but not the reckless kind that gets general managers fired. He will act accordingly to the plan set during his first offseason two years ago.

Look for the Bears to sign players still in their prime to team-friendly deals, a model set with the signings of players like linebacker Pernell McPhee, linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. And remember back to last March, when Pace refused to get in a bidding war for defensive lineman Malik Jackson and instead inked Hicks, then 26, to a smart deal. The Bears won’t break the bank.

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Yes, that’s true for quarterback Mike Glennon, who reportedly could draw anywhere from $10 million and perhaps up to $15 million from the Bears. That number seems high, but consider that a figure like that would rank 23rd among quarterback average salaries in 2017. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton ranks 22nd at $16 million, and Chase Daniel is 24th at $7 million.

Glennon, 27, would be paid like a bottom-tier starting quarterback. The Bears believe he can be better than that, but he would also be signed as a bridge while the team develops a young quarterback.

Glennon would face a simple task — hand the ball off to Jordan Howard, protect the football and give the Bears a chance to win. They would be looking to play complementary football with Glennon being the firm hand at the wheel. In the meantime, the future would be groomed. Maybe it’s Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitchell Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes. That’s something for later.

The Bears are looking to overhaul their troubled secondary, reportedly targeting 26-year-old cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Chicago is the most likely landing spot for Gilmore, according to reports. He’s a Pro Bowler who tallied five interceptions last season. The Bears had eight total.

Safety will be an important piece to the puzzle, with Duron Harmon reportedly among options in play, as a source said. A third-round pick in 2013, the 26-year-old Harmon appeared in all 16 games for the Patriots last season, making 22 tackles and recording one interception. D.J. Swearinger, 25, is also a possibility, the Chicago Tribune also reported, after he started 12 games for the Cardinals last season. More names could emerge come Wednesday.

Then there’s the receiver position, which has reached an interesting point. It appears Pace has played his cards right with Alshon Jeffery, who may not get the $14 million he desires on the open market. Pace had said the best avenue was letting Jeffery assess his market value. He knew well that the top receiver could be coming back.

Re-signing Jeffery will be a top priority for Pace in the coming days. The Bears have also begun to explore other options, with Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times reporting Kenny Stills could be in play. Stills, 24, had 42 catches for the Dolphins last season. The Bears also have interest in Hoffman Estates native Andre Holmes, a source confirmed. The 28-year-old Holmes had 14 catches for the Raiders last year.

Other needs remain, with the Bears exploring their options at tight end and tackle. Filling a void at defensive end will also be a priority this offseason, though that could come in the draft.

Activity will pick up for the Bears come Wednesday. They will be plenty busy for the days ahead, but don’t look for them to break the bank.

Pace has vowed to approach free agency with reason.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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