It’s that time of year again. Four teams are duking it out for a bid to the Super Bowl while Chicago Bears fans are stuck reading article about what free agents should be brought back. Chin up, times are changing and there’s plenty to be excited about.

Newly hired head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace have their hands full in terms of free agents. The Bears have 20 unrestricted free agents and five restricted. Lots of decisions to be made.

To make things easier, we will be breaking the free agents into four categories: special teams (six players), offense (7), defense (7) and restricted (5). Each section will have its own article.
These articles aren’t going to try and predict the specifics in terms of length and amount of the contracts, just simply if the players are re-signed (in) or let go (out).

Prince Amukamara, CB

The Bears and Amukamara agreed on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, which was a bargain for Chicago. While he did lack in turnovers, zero interceptions and forced fumbles, he did recover a fumble and break up seven passes. His health was a bit concerning early on in the season, missing the first two games, but was solid after that. Corner is a bit thin in Chicago in terms of high-end talent. Keeping There is no chance that Amukamara will be that cheap this offseason, but he’s earned his spot on the roster.

Prediction: IN

Kyle Fuller, CB

Amukamara’s partner in crime, but let’s keep the Fuller conversation short, there’s a more in-depth look HERE. In short, Fuller was easily the Bears best corner this season and should 100 percent be re-signed. It’s time for Chicago to stop trying to strictly rebuild with new players in free agency and start signing some homegrown talent.

Prediction: IN

Christian Jones, LB

Chicago seems to always strike gold on undrafted free agents and Jones is a testament to that. He did a phenomenal job at filling in for both injured/suspended middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman and injured Danny Trevathan. This is another situation where the Bears need to figure out a way to keep a player that they have groomed for four seasons. Jones can do it all, he can play in the middle, he has some experience coming off the edge, is a solid special teamer and can absolutely lay the boom. A versatile guy like Jones is too hard to let go. Barring a team making a push for him and making him a starter, Jones will be back.

Prediction: IN

Mitch Unrein, DE

Two years ago, when the Bears took DE Jonathan Bullard in the third-round, he was expected to take over a be a starter, but the consistent solid play from Unrein has made it tough. Unrein isn’t an all-star, he won’t be going to any Pro Bowls or having double-digit sack seasons, but he will always do his job. He was unable to finish the season, but in 12 games had 2.5 sacks and 32 tackles. Again, nothing mind-blowing or fantastic, but good enough to keep him around.

Prediction: IN

Lamarr Houston, OLB

What an odd year Houston had. Chicago cut him in the preseason, he gets picked up by the Houston Texans, who end up cutting him after 10 games and then he lands back in Chicago for five games. His injury history made him too much of a liability for the Bears to pay him as much as they were, but he played his tail off this season. In those 10 games with the Texans he had five sacks, a forced fumble and a 34-yard scoop and score. To top it off, in his five game with the Bears he had four sacks. While most think that wide receiver is the Bears’ biggest need this offseason, there’s an argument that it’s actually outside linebacker. Houston fills a need.

Prediction: IN

Sam Acho, OLB

Acho is a similar player to Unrein, not flashy, but dependable. Chicago’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award saw a huge increase in snaps in 2017, mostly due to injury. His 639 snaps (60 percent of defensive snaps), up from his 499 in 2016, was the most by any Bears outside linebacker. His numbers aren’t great, three sacks and 40 tackles, but he is a solid rotational player at a thin position. He knows the system and is one of those storied “good locker room guys.” Bears can get good depth in Acho for a low price. He stays.

Prediction: IN

John Jenkins, NT

Jenkins bounced around between a few times this season. He was with New Orleans for seven games and two games with Seattle before landing in Chicago. He spent his time with the Bears backing up Eddie Goldman, meaning he didn’t see the field much. With only 109 snaps (10 percent of defensive snaps), Jenkins made little impact for the Bears this season, recording eight tackles in eight games. Up until this point, it’s been predicted that the Bears will re-sign all of their defensive free agents, but that changes with Jenkins.

Prediction: OUT

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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