Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today

Chicago Bears come up empty handed on first day of free agency

The Chicago Bears failed to land a number of top-tier free agents yesterday, yet that might actually be a good thing.

There's a new reality in Chicago, one Cleveland fans came to accept many years ago: Elite NFL free agents don't want to play in your city.

Despite the Bears being the charter franchise of the NFL and playing in the third largest media market in the country, no one wants to come here.

Yesterday GM Ryan Pace aggressively pursued a number of big-name free agents, particularly in the secondary, and missed on all of them.

Pace was in on CB Stephon Gilmore, who signed with the Patriots and then said he was surprised the Bears didn't up their offer.

Pace also missed on CB A.J. Bouye, who signed with the Jaguars, and CB Logan Ryan, who signed with the Titans.

The Bears also couldn't convince OT Ricky Wagner, who signed with the Lions, nor S D.J. Swearinger, who signed with the Redskins, to come to Chicago.

Instead, the Bears are going to pay $16 million next season to QB Mike Glennon, who hasn't started an NFL game since 2014. The team also dished out $6 million per season to TE Dion Sims, making him the fifth highest paid player on the roster.

Pace also added WR Markus Wheaton but that was only after he failed to retain WR Alshon Jeffery, which was arguably the biggest mistake of the day. Jeffery signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, which shows just how much he wanted out of Chicago.

The new reality: the Bears are a 3-13 team without a viable quarterback and a head coach whose job security is shaky at best.

If you were an NFL free agent looking to take the next step in your career, would that be a desirable destination?

Coming off their worst season in franchise history, the Bears have officially hit rock bottom. Yet they may turn out to be a good thing.

When was the last time a team who "won" free agency actually won anything in the NFL playoffs? While it's disappointing Pace was unable to land the targets he pursued, the vast majority of the contracts handed out yesterday were above market. Almost everyone was overpaid.

History has shown that to be a shortsighted strategy to build long-term success. Conversely, the teams who go dark early in free agency -- like the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens -- have sustained success by building through the draft and rewarding their own.

That's a route the Bears are now forced to take. They'll surely sign more mid-level veterans over the coming days but their plan to immediately upgrade the roster by acquiring the best-available free agents failed.

As such, the future success of this team will depend largely on how well Pace drafts this year.

Last year's draft class produced right away and the 2015 class has shown potential, although it has been hampered by injuries. If the last two classes pan out and Pace adds another quality class, it won't matter that he failed to land a bunch of overpaid veterans on the first day of free agency.

The Bears have a lot of holes to fill, so Pace's .125 batting average on the first day of free agency is disappointing for fans but the idea that the 2017 season is already over is ludicrous.

There's an old saying: winner's adjust. Pace's Plan A failed but a well-executed Plan B or Plan C can still result in significant improvement this year and, more importantly, sustained success down the line.


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