With a new GM comes an entirely new approach to free agency, the draft, and even the access the media is given.
Looking at Ryan Pace’s first free agency we have started to learn more about him as a GM.
These free agent grades are based on the following aspects,
Impact: What impact will they have on the Bears this season?
Upside: What impact will they have on the Bears in 2016 and beyond?
Intangibles: What impact will they have on the Bears that does not show up on the stat sheet?
Value: Did the Bears get a good value based on the market and the need?
S Antrel Rolle[NY Giants] 3 years 11.25 million/5 guaranteed
Impact: The Bears play at safety last season was soft, injured, and not very good. Rolle provides an immediate upgrade in toughness, health, and professionalism. Rolle will provide Fangio with a safety that will not blow coverages because of mental mistakes, and that will punish people in the middle of the field. Rolle does not have the incredible range that he did when he was a top 10 pick, but the Fangio defense does not need that. The Fangio defense at its peak had Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson, neither of which has incredible range. Rolle will provide the Bears with a QB of the back end of the defense and at a minimum make sure guys are lined up correctly in games and that they are practicing hard during the week.
Even in a down year Rolle had a good stat line 87 tackles, 1 FF, 3 INT.
Rolle brings 800 tackles and 26 interceptions to a unit that does not have enough proven players.
[B+], the Bears safeties have been epically bad, so Rolle provides an upgrade over the incompetence.
Upside: There is little upside when you sign a player that is 32 years old and that is no different with Rolle. The upside with Rolle is that his decline seems to have been a little exaggerated. 2014 was not a good year for Rolle whether you applied the eye test or the PFF metrics, but in 2013 he posted a very healthy +8 by PFF standards. The year before in 2012 he posted a Fairley respectable -2.5. Based on this it looks like 2014 was a bad year, not it cannot be ignored that older players sometimes fall of the cliff.
What hurts the upside grade is that younger players, with higher upside, signed for very similar deals. Would the Bears be better off with Da’Norris Searcy or Rahim Moore? That is a very fair question.
Having missed only 5 games in his career, Rolle does provide more upside than your average 32 year old.
[C+], this is a bridge signing to gain leadership and buy time to draft and develop safeties.
Intangibles: Rolle brings incredible intangibles to the team and this was no more apparent than when the New York media reacted to his signing with the Bears. They were genuinely concerned with who would replace the leadership void in the locker room.
@KimJonesSports: A real question for the New York Giants defense: Who leads? Antrel Rolle NEVER missed a game and was always — always — at his locker.
The other indication was what Tom Coughlin, legendary NFL curmudgeon, had to say about Rolle and his genuine respect for him.
“He’s an outstanding young man and really I’ve never come across a player that was more interested in his team and trying to help his team be better in any way they could,” Coughlin said. “I think countless Tuesday’s Antrel was in my office with, ‘How can we get better? What can we do to get better?’ Just thoughts going back and forth between coach/player, in terms of how our team could improve. ”
Even Adam Schefter chimed in with his assessment of the quality people the Bears were signing.
@AdamSchefter: Quietly and quickly, Bears finalize deals with former Chargers WR Eddie Royal and former Giants S Antrel Rolle. Quality players, quality men
Rolle, like McPhee, brings a ton of toughness, work ethic, and leadership to the team. He has played in 2 Super Bowls, he has won 1 Super Bowl, and he has played on very good defenses. He was considered a primary leader on a Super Bowl winning team. The Bears defense lacked toughness, Rolle helps that. The Bears defense is going to be very young and filled with draft picks, Rolle can teach and show real professionalism to these young players.
[A], this guy brings a special level of leadership and toughness. This is Rolle’s true value to the team.
Value: The value on the Rolle signing is where I have the most issues with the signing. It is clear by the contract numbers that the Bears could have gotten a younger, however less accomplished, at the safety position. 4-6 million dollars was the going rate for the non-elite safeties and Rolle provided no discount on that rate. Moore was cheaper, Parker cost the same, and Searcy cost slightly more. The Bears chose Rolle over younger options, with where this team is at I would have signed the younger player with more room for development. Even the guaranteed money was not that different.
Now there is value in the fact that he is owed 0 guaranteed money past the 2015 season and his cap hits drop to 3 million a season.
Rahim Moore 3/12 [4 guaranteed]
Ron Parker 5/25 [8 guaranteed]
Da’Norris Searcy 4/24 [10.5 guaranteed]
[D], paid full market value to an older player coming off a bad season.
Overall Grade: B