It was announced on Thursday that former Redskins defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois would be meeting with the Chicago Bears. Two days later, Jean Francois tweeted this out:
I got to get use to the cold again real quick.
— Ricky Jean Francois (@Rbjf_99) March 18, 2017
You can take that tweet whichever way you want.
If Jean Francois does sign with the Bears, then he would fill a big hole across Akiem Hicks on the defensive line. Those two, along with Eddie Goldman, Mitch Unrein, Jonathan Bullard and recent signee John Jenkins would give them an all-around solid group: one that wouldn’t be a weakness on the Bears’ roster.
How much would that change their draft plans?
Before we reach a conclusion, the Bears must sign Jean Francois in the first place. This argument is based on the assumption that he will sign, so nothing will change if he doesn’t.
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If he does, then the next thing to look at would be the price tag that they would give to him. If Chicago gives him a small contract, then that would mean that they wouldn’t see him as a starting-caliber player. However, if they give him a decent-sized contract, then they would likely view him as a starter in 2017.
In recent weeks, more mock drafts have been pegging Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas to the Bears. And although Alabama’s Jonathan Allen’s shoulder issues have caused him to drop a bit, he’s still a popular target. If Chicago signs Jean Francois, then they won’t necessarily need either of the two. Besides, they have other needs.
While Quintin Demps was a solid free-agent signing, he won’t be the team’s long-term answer at safety. They could still draft Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker at No. 3. Either one of them would be a great addition to a secondary that still needs improvement.
The Bears could also pick a quarterback in the first round. Despite their addition of Mike Glennon, adding another signal-caller early is still an option. It’s very likely that neither the Browns nor the 49ers will pick one in the first two picks. That means that Chicago would have their top quarterback, whomever that may be, available for them.
However, Ryan Pace stuck to a best-player-available approach in his first two drafts. If either Allen or Thomas are the best player available when the Bears pick, then odds are they will stick to their original draft plans.
Also, let’s not forget that Jean Francois isn’t a star player by any means. He could serve as a stopgap starter, but wouldn’t serve as much else.
Although he would be a solid addition, he wouldn’t be a long-term solution at defensive end. If the Bears were to feel that Thomas or Allen is the best player on their board when they pick, then they shouldn’t think twice about picking one of them.