Bears make a pair of signing as NFL free agency begins

The Chicago Bears were active Monday night as the 48-hour negotiation window in which NFL teams can talk with free agents opened. Although signing cannot become official until 3 pm on Wednesday, Chicago agreed to term with a pair of free agents. The signings are not “impact” signings, but could have a big effect on the team’s offseason direction.

NFL insider Ian Rapport reported that the team had agreed to term with former Seahawks running back Mike Davis early Monday night. Davis rushed for 514 yards and four touchdowns last season and more importantly caught 34 passes. He provides the team with depth replacing Benny Cunningham’s role rather than Jordan Howard who has been the subject of possible trade rumors.

Shortly after, Mike Garafolo reported that the Bears also agreed to terms with former Jets defensive back Buster Skrine on a three-year deal. Skrine will most likely replace Bryce Callahan as the team’s starting slot cornerback. In eight seasons with both the Browns and Jets, he has nine interceptions.

There will be a void on special teams the team will need to fill as backup wide receiver and special team’s gunner Josh Bellamy signed with the Jets. Bellamy was with the Bears for four seasons with his best season coming in 2017 when he caught 24 passes including a 45-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky.

One name to keep an eye out for the next few days could be free agent running back Mark Ingram. Ingram has spent his entire career in New Orleans since being drafted in the first round back in 2011. Bears general manager Ryan Pace could look to bring in the two-time Pro-Bowl running back as a viable option if the team trades Howard.

Ingram would fit perfectly in the Bears offense as his role would be identical to how he was used in New Orleans. He would be the goalline running back and be used as the workhorse back. Head coach Matt Nagy could give Ingram 20 carries if the game is in hand, but also utilize him as a pass catcher also. Since 2015, he has averaged 45 catches and has rushed for 1,000 yards in two of the last three seasons.

Pace would have a proven running back replacement to Howard who could give the team one to two seasons before needing to address the position in the draft. Signing Ingram would allow the team to focus elsewhere in this year’s draft given that they do not have a first or second-round pick.

Monday’s night signing will not have a big impact on the Bears roster, but they definitely are precursors to what the organization’s bigger goals may be in free agency and the draft. Signing Davis and Skrine provide the team with security and depth at two positions lacking both, but may not be the final move at either position.

The start of the new league year always has its surprises, and although limited by cap space, the Bears could be gearing up for an unexpected move come Wednesday.

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