Bears free agency roundup

RB Michael Bush (Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Bears GM Phil Emery is getting low on cap space after putting the franchise tag on Matt Forte, trading for Brandon Marshall, re-signing five players and signing five more in free agency.

When new Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery was hired, he said his mission was to build his roster through the draft.

"Our goals and our orientation are through building this team and continuing to add good players through the draft," Emery said at his introductory press conference. "We want to raise our own. We want people to have passion for the Bears; that came into our home and were raised and developed in our home; that have the passion not only for the Bears, but for this city and our fans."

So what does he do? He makes a huge trade, slaps a franchise tag on the team's best player and signs 10 players in free agency. That is a lot of free-agent activity for an executive that expounds the value of the NFL Draft.

Former GM Jerry Angelo was relatively forthright when he spoke publicly. Obviously, we can't say the same for Emery.

As a result of his wheeling and dealing the past month, the Bears now have just $3.54 million left under the 2012 salary cap.

That should be just enough to sign this year's draft class, so don't expect any more moves in free agency.

Here then are all the moves Emery has made since taking over as Chicago's general manager.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

RB Kahlil Bell (tendered at $1.26M with no compensation)
-Bell performed well late last season when called into action. He's a tough runner with good hands. He must learn to hang onto the ball though. The low tender keeps him on the roster at a minimum price.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED


TE Kellen Davis
Scott Boehm/Getty

TE Kellen Davis: UFA; $6M/2 yrs, $2.7M SB
-Davis had just 18 catches last year but was under-utilized by former coordinator Mike Martz. Davis will need to vastly improve on those numbers if he's to live up to that contract.

DE Israel Idonije: UFA; 1 yr, $2.5M
-Idonije is a decent all-around player but lacks consistent pass rush. The Bears will need to pair him with a speed rusher in the draft.

CB Tim Jennings: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown
-Jennings is a tough player who fits well in Chicago's Cover 2. He struggles in man coverage though. Some competition at cornerback would do him good.

QB Josh McCown: UFA; $850,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB
-McCown still has a little left in the tank and will make a solid No. 3 signal caller.

S Craig Steltz: UFA; $1.64M/2 yrs
-Steltz is a great special teams player and was very good late last year at strong safety. He may challenge incumbent starter Major Wright next season.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

RB Michael Bush: UFA Raiders; $14M/4 yrs, $7M guaranteed
-Bush was the best back on the market. He's great in short yardage situations and also has good hands. Combining him with Forte gives Chicago one of the most talented backfields in the league.

QB Jason Campbell: UFA Raiders; $3.5M/1 yr, $2M SB
-Campbell has been a starter his whole career in the NFL and brings a lot of experience into the backup role. His strong arm will work well in the Windy City, assuming he ever gets called into action.

LB Blake Costanzo: UFA 49ers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB
-Costanzo is a very good special teams player. He's limited as a linebacker.

WR Brandon Marshall (trade Dolphins)
-Marshall was acquired for two third round picks, which is an absolute steal. If he continues his five-year streak of 1,000 yards seasons next year, he'll become the first Bears wideout to crack the 1,000-yard mark since Marty Booker in 2002.

WR Devin Thomas: UFA Giants; 1 yr, terms unknown
-Thomas is an experienced kick returner. As a receiver, he has ideal size and speed, but his three total catches the last two seasons combined – in which he played for three NFL teams – means he'll likely have limited value on offense.

WR Eric Weems: UFA Falcons; $4.2M/3 yrs, $1,5M guaranteed
-Weems is a special teams standout that made the Pro Bowl in 2010 as a returner. He's a solid coverage player and has experience returning both punts and kickoffs.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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