With free agency set to open March 11, we’ll shine the spotlight on the Bears’ free agents and examine each player’s likelihood to return. Friday’s focus is on safety Major Wright.
Check out previous spotlights:
Position: SafetyAge (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 26NFL seasons logged (with Bears): 4 (4)2013 stats: Started 15 games. Had 99 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles.
Quotable: “I have no clue. I’m blind to the fact. This year I came and just tried to play my hardest, do everything that I could do. I just hope that something happens. I’m just waiting to hear back from my people, and we’ll see what happens.” – Wright to reporters on Dec. 30 regarding his future.
“I saw with our safety play, and I’m sure that Major and Chris would agree, that they did not play at the ability and capability level throughout the season that we would have expected, and I think that they would be their own worst critics in this area, that they would have wanted more out of themselves.” – Marc Trestman to reporters on Jan. 2.
Fit with the Bears: Wright’s play took a serious hit in 2013. Take Pro Football Focus’ metrics, for example. PFF had Wright as the 86th-ranked safety with an overall, cumulative grade of -27.4. He was also 86th in run defense with a -15.5. The previous season, he ranked 23rd overall and 19th against the run.
Wright’s play was just part of a big problem on defense. He created a few turnovers, sure, but struggled in coverage — quarterbacks had a passer rating of 146.8 throwing at Wright, according to PFF. For a Bears defense that needs drastic changes from the worst unit in team history, it’s hard to see where Wright fits in that puzzle.
There are two things going for Wright, though — he is young and should come cheap coming off a tough season, but that will likely be a benefit to a different team that signs him, looking for the numbers we saw in 2012, not the Bears.
Financials: With some big-name players available (Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward), the safety market could be set high for the best safeties — in the $30 million range (total value). Obviously, Wright won’t go near that. His 2013 season may put Wright in a position for a one-year, “prove it” contract before he can strike a long-term deal.
Best guess: It’s hard to envision Wright back in a Bears uniform next season. It’s unfortunate — following a strong 2012 campaign, if Wright played well again last season he could have been rewarded with a long-term deal to stay in Chicago. Assuming the Bears move on, look for Wright to land on another team with a one-year deal and compete to start. He will try to regain his form and get a better contract in 2015.