The NFL’s new league year begins on March 17th which means free agency is on the horizon. The start of free agency is almost like a rebirth. It does not matter what team you support. It does not matter what state that team was in the previous year. Last year doesn’t matter, and we’ve seen teams turn their program around in one offseason. That’s the beauty of free agency.
Even though it may seem that the Bears have been moving backward the last two years, we’re going to get up for the letdown. Over the next few weeks, the @BearsOnTap crew will be compiling a free agency wishlist. Every article in this series will have three criteria. First, what is the likelihood that the free agent will be extended or franchise tagged by their current team? Second, what kind of contract is the free-agent going to demand and how will it fit into the Bears salary cap? Lastly, we’ll explore what kind of impact each player would have for the Bears.
Brandon Scherff played under the franchise tag in 2020. This quote from last April outlines Scherff’s feelings about playing in Washington.
“It’s gone well…Just pretty much sat down and talked to my agent—that’s what he’s there for—and I want to sign a long-term deal with them, too. I love it there, and I’ve always said I wanted to be a Redskin for the rest of my career. So, hopefully we can work towards that.”– Via Washington staff writer Kyle Stackpole
As we know now, the deadline passed and a deal between the two sides never came to fruition. 2020 was a messy year. The projected drop in salary cap prevented the Football Team and Scherff from agreeing to terms on an extension. It should be a no-brainer for Washington to extend Scherff. If it weren’t for the radio silence coming from Washington, I wouldn’t be entertaining this idea. Scherff has reiterated his desire to stay in Washington and his satisfaction with the direction things are heading under Ron Rivera this offseason, but the organization hasn’t said a thing. It doesn’t make any sense. They have over $40 million to work with this offseason, so why hasn’t the deal happened? When you look at the Football Team’s roster, things become clearer. With an abundance of holes to fill on their roster, maybe paying an All-Pro guard top-end money isn’t the direction they’re going.
The Bears have much less cap flexibility than Washington does, but they could still make it work. First, the Bears would have to draft a quarterback. If the Bears sign or trade for a quarterback, that comes with a large cap hit which limits their flexibility. If not, cutting a few of their cap casualty candidates will give them room to make a move. Scherff’s predicted market value is $12.7 million and the most likely cut candidates — Buster Skrine and Bobby Massie — would give the Bears $9.5 million dollars in cap space. If the Bears backload a potential Brandon Scherff contract into years two and three, it’s an easy move to make.
Brandon Scherff is an absolute monster. He has been a top-five run blocker in the NFL since his second year in the league. The guy is a pancake machine; all he does is bully people up front. The Bears have a bigger need for tackles than they do guards, but the going rate for a premier left tackle is upwards of $18 million dollars. While many Bears fans want to move on from Charles Leno, he still has a bit too much dead cap on his contract to justifiably part ways with him. Leno only had seven penalties called against him and he let up 4.5 sacks last year.
A lot of people have suggested potentially bringing in Trent Williams. I like the idea of Williams and he would be a clear upgrade over Leno. Williams is also 33 years old and was penalized ten times and gave up four sacks. Leno also isn’t left on an island against elite pass rushers nearly as often, but the second Cody Whitehair moved to left guard, Leno’s play improved dramatically. I also think Scherff would improve the Bears’ running game dramatically. The Bears’ run blocking has been far worse than their pass blocking over the last few years. Scherff would bring the Bears stability in the running game they haven’t seen since Jordan Howard’s 2017 season.
Every single Bears fan is sick of seeing the offensive line get dominated in the running game. They plead with former players like Kyle Long and Olin Kreutz because they miss the enforcer attitude both of those guys brought to the unit. Brandon Scherff is that enforcer. It may be difficult to get him out of Washington, but it would be glorious if the Bears are able to pull it off.