The Chicago Bears kicked off NFL free agency with a bang today as they filled their two major needs immediately. In new head coach Marc Trestman‘s first press conference, he was applauded by Bears fans for two notable points he made. First, he agreed with questions about the tight end position and said that it has been an issue. Second, and most importantly to Bears fans, Trestman made one of his more memorable points by saying that his number one priority is to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. Well, Bears fans, you should be excited because Phil Emery and the front office took care of both of those needs today.
Right off the bat, the Bears agreed in principle with New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett to a four year contract. I can tell you who is most excited about this move folks, it’s Jay Cutler. Cutler has had to deal with some awful tight end play over the past couple seasons, more recently from the inconsistent Kellen Davis. To give you all an idea about how big this signing was to the bears, here are some numbers. In four seasons, Davis has caught 47 passes for 529 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last season, Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns. At 6’6” 265lbs, Bennett is a giant target who can run down field to make plays, as well as contribute successfully as a blocker.
The second signing of the day came from the New Orleans Saints when the Bears signed Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod. Let me repeat myself: there is no one happier at Halas Hall right now than Cutler. In Bushrod, the Bears get an immediate upgrade to struggling tackle J’Marcus Webb. He is a capable blocker and pass protector who has spent the past two seasons protecting Drew Brees as he broke NFL records. The most interesting part of this signing is that Bushrod came from New Orleans, where new and current Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer used to coach him and the offensive line. Many agree that Kromer had quite a bit to do with this signing, and I wouldn’t doubt it. Kromer’s former players in New Orleans had nothing but positive things to say about him as he left for Chicago to join Trestman’s staff. This leads me to believe that there is already going to be a lot more chemistry on this year’s offensive line than in recent memory.
Finally, the Bears signed Henry Melton to the franchise tender of $8.45 million, and as I wrote in a previous article, could end up giving them more flexibility this offseason. Melton was a must-sign going into the free agency period, and it looks like he’ll be in Chicago one more year, if not a few more to come.
Congratulations to Phil Emery and the front office of the Chicago Bears. They have all done a fantastic job to start off the most exciting period of the offseason. Let’s see what else they have in store for us going forward.