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The Chicago Bears’ top free agent targets at safety in 2024

Here are the best safety choices available to the Chicago Bears when free agency begins the following week.

Chicago, Illinois — The Chicago Bears will have some strong choices at the safety position in free agency now that the 32 teams that choose to use their franchise tags have distributed them. Antoine Winfield Jr. was the best safety heading to the market, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put a tag on him. Nevertheless, Chicago will have access to a number of different players to cover for the vacuum created by the departure of longtime starter Eddie Jackson.

In order to complement third-year starter Jaquan Brisker, the Bears will be searching for a free safety. Head coach Matt Eberflus recently discussed the qualities the team will be seeking in Jackson’s replacement.

 

You’re trying to find a man who complements him well. Jaquan is a strong safety, according to Eberflus, who made this statement at the scouting combine. “The candidate that we would be searching for must be physically fit, has range, have excellent communication abilities, and have ball skills. All of our players should be able to take the ball away. He must also have that. then develop into a leader over time.”

Eberflus gave the Bears flexibility in how they may address the position, including using the draft or free agency.

 

“If it’s a free agent, he is gonna have to feel the temperature of the room and then dive into the leadership role,” Eberflus said. In light of this, let’s take a look at the best choices for safety when free agency begins the following week.

Safety Jordan Fuller will be available for the first time after playing with the Los Angeles Rams for four years. Fuller possesses a solid stature at 6’2″ and 203 pounds, and he has experience patrolling the middle as a free safety. In terms of the Bears, he should be a player to keep an eye on.

 

Following two seasons in which he participated in 28 games, Fuller’s hamstring injury limited him to just three games in 2022. With the exception of 2022, he participated in at least 92% of the defensive snaps for the Rams, demonstrating his durability. Throughout his four years, he has played 1,840 snaps at free safety, so that’s where he feels most at ease.

He ended with 94 tackles (one for loss), 3 forced fumbles, 8 pass breakups, and 3 interceptions in 17 starts the previous season. Fuller was a reliable cover man who gave up 25 receptions and 45 targets. As a result, quarterbacks against him had a 73.8 passing rating. In addition, he can tackle well. Over his career, Fuller’s missed tackle percentage stands at 9.3. Eddie Jackson’s is 14.1%, in contrast. Fuller may be the best option for the Bears if they want to go younger and less expensive.

 

Fuller is just beginning his peak; he turned 26 in early March. Fuller’s anticipated value, according to PFF, is $4.7 million, making him a reasonably priced addition for the team that signs him.

Here’s a player that Chicago should pay close attention to. Xavier McKinney, who was selected by the New York Giants in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Alabama, is set to become a free agent and is expected to be highly sought after among safety candidates.

With 93 tackles, five interceptions, and a defensive score in 2021, the 6-foot, 201-pound McKinney had something of a breakout campaign. In 2022, he had a great start to the season, but an odd accident ended his career after eight games. During the team’s bye week, McKinney broke multiple fingers in an ATV accident that hurt his hand during a sightseeing tour in Cabo. After that, he appeared in just one game the entire season.

With 93 tackles, five interceptions, and a defensive score in 2021, the 6-foot, 201-pound McKinney had something of a breakout campaign. In 2022, he had a great start to the season, but an odd accident ended his career after eight games. During the team’s bye week, McKinney broke multiple fingers in an ATV accident that hurt his hand during a sightseeing tour in Cabo. After that, he appeared in just one game the entire season.

In 2023, he made a significant comeback with a career year. McKinney finished with a career-high 122 total tackles—two for loss—0.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, 11 pass breakups, and three interceptions in just 17 starts. Last season, McKinney had an outstanding 91.2 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), allowing 33 receptions on 54 targets with 0 touchdowns. When going after him, opposing signal-callers posted a very low 52.1 passer rating.

 

Another youthful and extremely intriguing prospect for the Bears is 25-year-old McKinney. With a predicted market value of $10.4 million each season, Ryan Poles shouldn’t have any trouble affording Spotrac.

With safety Kyle Dugger, the New England Patriots decided to take a slightly different approach. He received a $13.8 million transition tag from the Pats. Dugger will be able to explore his free agency options as a result, although New England has the right to match any offer he accepts from other teams.

 

After four years, the 28-year-old Dugger joined the league. He was 24 years old when he was selected in the second round by the Patriots in 2020, and he has continued to get better since joining the league.

The 6-foot-2, 222-pound Dugger, who showed similar ball-hawking tendencies to those Jackson had earlier in his career, tied for the league lead in defensive touchdowns (2) in 2022. In 15 games during that season, he ended with 78 tackles (5 for loss), 2 quarterback hits, a sack, 8 pass breakups, a forced fumble, and 3 interceptions. In 2023, he had an even more successful season, recording 109 tackles (6 for loss), 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, 5 quarterback hits, 7 pass breakups, and 2 picks. He gave up 45 receptions on 63 targets last season, and opponents’ quarterbacks had an overall passer rating of 88.5 when they threw to him, according to PFF.

It will be fascinating to see what his market is and if the Pats decide to match a higher offer if it is substantially more than his current $13.8 million price tag.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, has moved about a little since joining the league. He played his first three seasons in New Orleans before moving to Philadelphia to have a spectacular 2022 season with the Eagles.

 

In 2023, he signed a contract with the Detroit Lions, but an injury ended his stay there. Gardner-Johnson didn’t return until mid-December after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2. He only saw 187 defensive snaps in the previous season with the Lions, and he will now probably play for his fourth team in six years.

Gardner-Johnson led the NFL with six interceptions in his final full season (2022), starting 12 games for the Eagles. He also finished with 67 tackles (5 for loss), 1.0 sacks, and 8 pass breakups. Although his history of injuries is concerning, he is still a young enough athlete to have an effect at the safety position.

commander’s security After completing his first four years of service in Washington, Kamren Curl is set to enter free agency. Curl, who was previously selected in the seventh round out of Arkansas, turns 25 today and is expected to ink a big contract. As of right now, Spotrac’s estimated value is $14.4 million per season, and he has justified it. Curl has participated in 60 games during his four seasons, with 53 starts. He only played in 12 games in 2022 due to an ankle issue, but he doesn’t have any serious injury concerns that Chicago should be concerned about.

Curl recorded 115 total tackles (three for loss), three quarterback hits, a sack, a forced fumble, and five pass breakups in 16 starts for the Commanders in the previous campaign. He gave up 36 receptions on 52 targets, and when opposing quarterbacks targeted him, they had a combined passer rating of 110.2. The 198-pound, 6-foot-2 veteran safety is a hard-hitter who doesn’t back down from contact and he likes to go into the backfields of his opponents. Curl has accumulated 5.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 15 tackles for loss in his four-year career.

Although he is competent in covering and has experience playing both strong and free safety, he did struggle with tackling in 2023. Curl missed 14 tackles (11.2%) in the previous season after recording a solid missed tackle percentage of 6.7 in 2021 and 4.7 in 2022. Going ahead, that is something to watch out for.

 

Written by schooleiwa

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