The Chicago Bears are a defensive-minded team with a head coach who knows what he’s looking for on that side of the ball.
Matt Eberflus was entering his second year as defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts in 2019 when that franchise selected cornerback Rock Ya-Sin with the No. 34 overall selection in the second round of the NFL Draft. Ya-Sin left for the Las Vegas Raiders last year, the same time Eberflus joined the Bears for a crack at his first head coaching job. Now, just one season later, the opportunity to reunite coach and player in Chicago has presented itself.
Bill Zimmerman of SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron suggested the move when discussing the roster holes that Bears general manager Ryan Poles has yet to fill despite an already blisteringly busy offseason.
“Rock Ya-Sin is a veteran still looking for a home and the Bears could certainly use him,” Zimmerman wrote on Saturday, April 1. “Another guy who isn’t the strongest run defender, but he has improved in pass coverage each season he’s been in the league. He could step in, start immediately, and contribute in the secondary. Plus, he spent a few seasons with Matt Eberflus in Indianapolis so he’s familiar with the scheme.”
Ya-Sin Best Free Agent Cornerback Still Available
Ya-Sin has good experience, appearing in 52 games and earning 38 starts across his four-year NFL career. He has made only two interceptions, though he has defensed 27 passes and forced two fumbles as well. Opposing quarterbacks completed less than 61% of their throws against Ya-Sin in 2022 for an average of six yards per target, per Pro Football Reference.
Matt Bowen of ESPN listed Ya-Sin as the third-best free agent still available as of Wednesday, March 29, and the top cornerback.
“Ya-Sin has just two interceptions over his four pro seasons, but with press-man traits, zone awareness and a competitive playing style, he is a physical corner who can disrupt at the line of scrimmage and tackle,” Bowen wrote. “The 2019 second-round pick had seven pass breakups last season, and he allowed just one touchdown catch as the nearest defender in coverage, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.”
Poles Has Invested Heavily in Secondary as Bears GM
Poles has been aggressive in his attempts to improve the back end of the Bears’ defense, including using second-round selections in last year’s draft to pick up safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon.
The two joined safety Eddie Jackson and cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor in the defensive backfield in 2022. Chicago could look to add to the secondary in the first couple rounds again this year, with picks at Nos. 9, 53, 61 and 64. However, Zimmerman wrote Saturday that even picking up another defensive back in that range shouldn’t preclude the Bears from taking a hard look at adding Ya-Sin to the rotation.
“Even if [the Bears] spend a draft selection on a cornerback in the top 64, I am not comfortable with a rookie and Vildor rounding out their nickel package,” Zimmerman wrote. “Gordon will hopefully spend more time inside as the nickel corner and the Bears will hopefully utilize a veteran signing to start opposite Johnson.”
Ya-Sin has a projected market value of $10.8 million annually over a four-year contract, per Spotrac. The Bears currently have approximately $37.7 million in salary cap space for the 2023 season.