Cornerback is one of several positions of need the Chicago Bears are expected to address this offseason.
The Bears have one solid cover corner in Jaylon Johnson, who is entering his third year with the team, but beyond that, the list of cornerbacks under contract for Chicago heading into next season isn’t a promising one. Apart from Johnson, there’s Thomas Graham Jr. Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor, Michael Joseph and BoPete Keyes, and that’s not exactly a group that inspires confidence. Graham is intriguing but unproven, and will be one to watch moving forward.
New head coach Matt Eberflus has a recent history of bringing in low-risk, high-reward veterans at the position, which is what he did as defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. Eberflus and company spent $4 million total in 2020 on two free agent CBs, T.J. Carrie and Xavier Rhodes, and one Bears insider thinks one of the two is a viable option for Chicago this offseason.
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Eberflus Has Done Well With Vets on Cheap Deals
T.J. Carrie signed one-year deals with the Colts worth just over $1 million in 2020 and 2021, per Spotrac, and while he performed capably, it’s Rhodes insiders have mentioned as a possibility to reunite with Eberflus in the Windy City.
Rhodes signed a one-year, $3 million contract ($1 million guaranteed) in 2020 and re-signed another one-year deal for $4.77 million ($3.75 million guaranteed) last season. Rhodes, who turns 32 in June, was an All-Pro for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, and he started 29 games for the Colts over the last two seasons. He finished with 81 total tackles, 19 passes defensed, three interceptions and a defensive score in his two seasons with Indianapolis.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune noted in his February 23 column he thinks adding a player like Rhodes — an aging vet on a cheap deal — is something Eberflus will strongly consider to address the team’s “huge need” at corner.
“One thing I would keep in mind is that Eberflus did pretty well in Indianapolis with an aging veteran in Xavier Rhodes, whom the Colts were able to sign on the cheap. Rhodes was slower than he was originally in Minnesota, but the Colts identified a player who would fit their scheme and wouldn’t take up much cap space. It was a terrific signing,” Biggs wrote, adding:
“It’s possible the Bears would take a similar approach — and it might not be someone whom they would sign in the first wave of free agency, when teams inevitably overpay. Cornerback is a huge need, and the Bears need to infuse the position with at least two new options to raise the level of play.”
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Bears Insider: ‘Wouldn’t Be Surprising’ if Bears Target Rhodes in Free Agency
“It wouldn’t be surprising if veteran Xavier Rhodes became an early target for the Bears. He started 29 games over two seasons for the Colts and Eberflus,” Bears insider Adam Jahns of The Athletic wrote on February 24.
Pairing the soon-to-be 23-year-old Johnson with a veteran like Rhodes makes a ton of sense. The Bears wouldn’t have to fork over a ton of guaranteed money to Rhodes, and the could also address the position in the draft for added depth. It’s early in the offseason, but put an asterisk by Rhodes’ name as someone to watch in free agency.