Chicago Bears sign OLB Pernell McPhee

McPhee was a risky signing this off-season. On one hand, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ #2 ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2014 despite playing just 540 snaps. He was 2nd in the NFL behind only JJ Watt with 21 quarterback hits. He’s not a one year wonder as that type of player either as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked defensive tackle as a 5th round rookie in 2011 on just 348 snaps and has graded out above average in all 4 seasons he’s been in the league. He’s supremely versatile with experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker, a 4-3 defensive end, a 3-4 defensive end, and a 4-3 defensive tackle. He’s also only going into his age 27 season and could break out as one of the best edge rushers in the game if he’s given a bigger role.

On the other hand, he’s still never played more than 540 snaps in a season so he’s still unproven as a full-time starter and he’s still unproven outside of Baltimore, where they have such great supporting talent defensively. However, at 8 million annually (5-year, 40 million) with just 16 million of that guaranteed, he’s well worth the risk. McPhee will work in rotation with Jared Allen and Willie Young in the Bears’ new 3-4 defense. Young and Allen both played well last season, but neither of them has ever played in a 3-4, as McPhee has for most of his career. He should have a significantly bigger role than he did in Baltimore, somewhere around 700-800 snaps annually, and could easily prove to be worth 11-12 million dollars per year.

Grade: A

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