The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the 2023 NFL season, and with free agency just around the corner, there’s no shortage of speculation about who they might add to their roster. One area that could use some bolstering is the secondary, where the Bears have some promising young talent but could use another starting-caliber cornerback to complete the group.
In this article, we’ll explore nine of the top cornerbacks set to hit the market and assess which ones would be the best fit for the Bears. Read on to find out which players could help take the Bears’ defense to the next level in 2023.
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Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jamel Dean is coming off the best season of his young career in which he had 57 tackles, eight PBUs, and two interceptions. That sort of ball production will make Dean a very popular cornerback during free agency with plenty of suitors. He’s played every year in Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers drafted him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Dean also was shut down in his own right as he only allowed a completion rate of 55.4% when targeted in 2022. Simply put, he was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. At only 26 years old, it’s easy to see the best football still being in front of Dean.
Is Dean a fit for the Bears?
Dean would be a fit for practically any defense throughout the league. The only problem for the Bears is that he’s going to warrant a massive contract as there will be more than a handful of teams interested in the young, dominant cornerback. But it’s fun imagining what the cornerback room could look like with Dean joining forces with Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon.
James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
2022 was a big year for James Bradberry. He was released in May from the Giants as the team had to create cap space and couldn’t find a trade partner for the cornerback. He signed with the Eagles and put together the best season of his career being voted a Second-team All-Pro.
But it’s not like success is new for Bradberry as he has been one of the better cornerbacks in the league for years. It doesn’t matter what team he plays for, Bradberry makes life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. He’s had 10 or more pass breakups every year of his career, and has 52 since his pro bowl season (2020). Bradberry has also tallied two or more interceptions every season besides one (2018).
Is Bradberry a fit for the Bears?
Bradberry would make an already strong Bears’ secondary potentially elite. Imagine him lining up alongside Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson. The only, and big, question is whether or not the Bears would pay top dollar for Bradberry, who’s going to have his fair share of suitors.
Cam Sutton, Pittsburgh Steelers
It was a career year for Cam Sutton in Pittsburgh as the corner had the most pass deflections (15) and interceptions (3) he’s ever had in a single season. For the Steelers, Sutton was a do-it-all corner who would line up outside, in the slot and even shadow opponent’s top receivers at times.
Sutton has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh after the team drafted him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. After four years of playing only in sub-packages, Sutton has blossomed as a full-time starter over the past two seasons.
Is Sutton a fit for the Bears?
Sutton’s versatility is intriguing and surely would be something the Bears would welcome as they tended to move their corners around last season. Sutton would allow them to maintain flexibility with their coverage schemes. He could fulfill a variety of roles for the Bears’ defense.
Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots
Jonathan Jones is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, a team he’s played for throughout his seven-year career. He has 11 interceptions and 44 pass breakups and 330 total tackles throughout his career.
In 2022, the Patriots moved Jones from the slot to outside cornerback. Despite the position change, Jones played well. Though, there were times when bigger receivers were able to take advantage of the 5-10 corner. It will be interesting to see where another team sees Jones fitting on their defense as he has proven versatility.
Is Jones a fit for the Bears?
Jones may indeed be an option for the Bears if they want to add another body to the cornerback room. It’s no secret that they covet players who have versatility, and Jones proved he has that in 2022. He would be a veteran presence on this young team and provide the Bears with the flexibility to get the best guys on the field in the best position to win their matchups.
Patrick Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Peterson is a household name at the position and has been for some time. Since entering the league in 2011, Peterson has been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times and named an All-Pro three times. He has 34 interceptions and 111 pass breakups throughout his career.
The savvy veteran has shown little signs of slowing down as he was the best cornerback on the Vikings last season. In fact, according to PFF, Peterson had the third-best coverage grade of all corners in the league in 2022 (82.5). He’s still a force to be reckoned with.
Is Peterson a fit for the Bears?
At this juncture of Peterson’s career, he’s most likely not seeking a long-term deal, but he’ll make sure he is well compensated for whatever amount of time he agrees to. The Bears would most likely want to go with a younger option if they opt to sign a cornerback in free agency. If they did end up signing Peterson, he would be an upgrade at outside cornerback, and Kyler Gordon most likely would move exclusively to the slot.
Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas Raiders
Rock Ya-Sin had a solid season in Las Vegas with 45 tackles and seven pass breakups. He only has two interceptions in his four-year career, both of which came in his first two seasons in the league back with the Colts. The lack of ball production is what is holding Ya-Sin from becoming a bigger name at the position, however, he’s still regarded as a solid player in his own right.
Ya-Sin thrives in press coverage. He’s aggressive and likes to make it difficult for opposing receivers to get in and out of their breaks. His ability to provide sticky coverage is key to the low completion percentage he’s allowed over the years. The one concern to have about the young corner is healthy as Ya-Sin has struggled to stay healthy for an entire season so far in his career.
Is Ya-Sin a fit for the Bears?
Ya-Sin is a very intriguing option for the Bears. He has four years of experience in the Bears’ defensive scheme as he played under Matt Eberflus from 2019-2021. In fact, he allowed a career-low 53.3Cmp% in 2021 under Eberflus’ leadership. Perhaps a reunion between player and coach is in store, and the Bears will bring in a starting-caliber cornerback that can jump in and pick up where he left off as there wouldn’t be any transitional period.
Byron Murphy, Arizona Cardinals
Byron Murphy hasn’t quite lived up to his draft status after being taken by the Cardinals with the 33rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Murphy has been good, but not elite playing multiple positions in the Cardinals’ defense. Murphy has flexibility playing both in the slot and at the boundary.
One thing that stands out for Murphy is the tackle numbers as he has 229 tackles in 56 career games. In 2021, he had plenty of ball production with four interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He averaged 10 PBUs per season over his first three years in the league. Murphy only played nine games this past season before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury.
Is Murphy a fit for the Bears?
Murphy’s injury and slight regression in 2022 may end up lowering his overall price point, which could interest the Bears. The 25-year-old corner has plenty of tread left on the tires, and can be used in a variety of ways. Is he a boundary corner that moves Kyler Gordon inside? Is he a slot guy that keeps Gordon outside? Either way, the Bears’ secondary gets better with Murphy in the mix.
Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Peters has had a storied career since joining the league in 2015 after being drafted by the Chiefs in the first round. Peters has been showered in accolades throughout his career, and rightfully so as he’s been one of the best corners in the league since his arrival.
Peters returned in 2022 after missing all of the prior season due to a torn ACL. He put up modest ball production after a year away with six pass breakups and one interception. A far cry from his career highs, but still, Peters is a very capable cover corner that can still be a high-upside CB2 for a team in this league.
Is Peters a fit for the Bears?
Peters may only be looking for one-year deals at this stage of his career, and given his recent injury history, teams will most likely want to keep their risk to a minimum. If the Bears want a veteran presence on the boundary with a high floor, Peters is your guy. The question is whether or not that is the direction the Bears would want to take. Bears GM Ryan Poles is familiar with Peters as Poles was the Chiefs’ College scouting coordinator when they drafted the cornerback. Perhaps that connection will lead to the Bears leaning Peters’ way. Still, it may be a long shot.
Isaiah Oliver, Atlanta Falcons
Isaiah Oliver has been with the Falcons after being drafted by the team in the second round in 2018. He only had five starts in 2022, but still had an interception, seven pass breakups and 37 total tackles.
Oliver primarily played in the slot this past season with 262 snaps in the slot compared to just 18 out on the boundary. He only allowed a passer rating of 72.4 when targeted on the year. Oliver can do more than cover receivers in the slot, he’s able to go after passers and generate pressure.
Is Oliver a fit for the Bears?
Oliver is an interesting option for the Bears if they want to bring in a player that plays his best football in the slot. That would make Kyler Gordon’s job easier as he would put his sole focus on the boundary and would not have to play multiple positions in 2023. Again, that depends on the Bears’ plans. There’s a real chance they prefer Gordon to keep his dual role, and if that’s the case, Oliver wouldn’t make much sense.
The Chicago Bears have a lot of options to consider when it comes to bolstering their secondary in free agency. With Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon already on the roster, adding another talented cornerback like Rock Ya-Sin could help complete the unit and give the Bears one of the strongest defenses in the league.
Whether the Bears decide to pursue any of these cornerbacks on the market, it’s clear that they have a lot of work to do this offseason to improve their roster and compete at a higher level.