Breaking Down: Chicago Bears free agent signing Pernell McPhee

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?


OLB Pernell McPhee [Baltimore] 5 years 38.5 million/15 guaranteed


Impact: The Bears should expect an immediate impact from McPhee on the defense. McPhee immediately gives the Bears a strongside OLB that can move inside in the sub packages. McPhee brings a relentless style, impressive versatility, and has been productive in a limited role.

McPhee can generate plays from all over the field. His sacks last season came from all over the field. He sacked Andrew Luck from the inside and then followed it up by beating Browns LT Joe Thomas with an inside move for a sack.

McPhee’s combination of burst, size and power allows him to generate pass rush even when he does not win clean. His violent hands allow him to effect the pocket without winning pretty or clean. McPhee has a lunch pale quality to his game and he does equally good work against the run.

McPhee’s ability and upside were not a secret he ranked highly on most media outlet rankings, CBS [10th], SI [12th], NFL [14th].

[B+], he is not a super star, but he will be a center piece of the Fangio attack.

Upside: PFF rated McPhee as the 2nd most productive OLB behind the Chiefs Justin Houston. McPhee played in a rotational role [540 snaps] last season and was able to produce 7.5 sacks. McPhee has a ton of upside. 540 snaps is 34 snaps a game, the Bears are probably going to ask him to play 50-60. He has not started and while he will need to be kept fresh he should simply have more  opportunities to produce. McPhee’s best football is ahead of him. McPhee has had a postive score through PFFs grading system every season,

2011 [Rookie]: +20.3

2012: [Injuries]: +6, +4 in the Super Bowl run.

2013: +6.5

2014: +26, +28.04 including the playoffs.

Consistently positive scores and seems to be hitting his stride.

26 years old, 4 missed games in 4 seasons, adds to the potential upside.

[A], you cannot argue with where he is going.

Intangibles: McPhee brings a toughness and attitude that the Bears have been missing on defense for the last 2 seasons.  McPhee played 4 seasons for a Championship level defense. McPhee has only ever played for top 12 defense with high expectations 2014, 7th, 2013 12th, 2012, 12th, 2011, 3rd. McPhee has a Super Bowl ring, he has played in 8 playoff games, and he comes from one of the most consistent and best run franchises in the NFL. He has learned from defensive player of the year award winners in Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis. McPhee in his opening press conference said that he is “violent”, and the Bears could use a little violence.

[A], again you cannot argue with the intangibles, style of play and experience.

Value: The Bears paid for McPhee, they paid a lot for a player that has not started a lot in his career. But the market price for high upside OLBs is in the 7+ range.

Brandon Graham 4/26

Derrick Morgan 4/30

Brian Orakpo 4/32

Looking at the contract comps the Bears paid fair market value for McPhee and the argument could be made that McPhee offers more upside than guys listed.

[B], solid value in comparison to the market.


Overall Grade: A

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