G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

Ryan Pace has done an amazing job since taking over as general manager of the Chicago Bears – that much is obvious. Even with questionable signings (or flat out mistakes) like Trey Burton and Cody Parkey, Pace has still solidified himself as one of the smarter GM’s in football. With that being said, nobody knows what the Bears will do with the roster, or how much money will be thrown around. Here are the best options for the Bears if they are trying to penny-pinch in the linebacker position this off-season:

Connor Barwin:

Barwin is not the same player he was when he entered the league in 2009, but who would expect him to be. Last year on the Giants, he was a “fill in” guy and only started three games for New York. Although he didn’t put up monstrous stats, it’s important to note that in the three games he did start, he deflected four passes. Barwin still has some athleticism in his 32 year old frame and can still be utilized as a pass rusher. What he lacks in speed now-a-days, he makes up for by still being strong and fending off blockers. As the Giants season looked meaningless, Barwin was losing snaps to the rookie Lorenzo Carter, in a way to get Carter more experience. Considering that Barwin signed a two year deal for $3.5 million last year (cut this season by New York) – the Bears should be able to get this guy for a dirt-cheap price for at least this season.

Shane Ray:

Source: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images North America

When Shane Ray was drafted in 2015 by the Denver Broncos he was expected to become an elite pass-rusher in the league. The red flags for Shane Ray are evident and so is his injury history, which may lead Ray to be a “boom or bust” signing. I couldn’t see a team offering him more than a one year “prove it” deal, and if so, motivation will be key. Before coming into the league Ray was cited for possession of marijuana and in 2014 he was ejected from the SEC title game for late hit on Oklahoma quarterback Blake Sims. It seemed that his second season in the league would be the start to something special as he played in 16 games (started *) and ended the season with 48 tackles and eight sacks. Since 2017 though, Shane Ray has been dealing with wrist injuries and surgeries which have sidelined him for 13 games. His “red flags” as mentioned before are worrisome to some degree, but for a guy with his athleticism and in a rotational role – he’d be a plus on this roster.

Sam Acho:

Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

Yes, a familiar face. Actually, someone who probably still has residence in the state of Illinois and he may be one of the better options to keep on-board. The Bears have been offering Acho one-year deals from 2015-2017. In 2018 the Bears gave him a two year deal worth $5.5 million – unfortunately for Acho, the Bears cut the linebacker before this year’s free agency period. His cut was made to save the “cap strapped Bears $2.125 million on the salary cap” (via Kevin Patra). Acho’s season was cut short last season due to a torn pectoral muscle, but as a veteran who knows the system and has been a fixture in this Bears locker room, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Bears to retain his services for something under a million dollars for the 2019 season.

G.W. Gras

Twitter: @GeeSteelio