They signed quarterback Mike Glennon, who is promoted from backup to Jameis Winston at Tampa Bay to starter in Chicago, replacing the released Cutler.
But with Jeffery gone to Philadelphia, Glennon might appreciate an upgrade in receivers. Signing former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton and former Titans receiver Kendall Wright did little to alter the perception of the Bears' receiving corps.
Wheaton constantly battled injuries and logged only two seasons with more than six receptions. Wright is consistently effective as a slot receiver, but also has had health issues.
Considering Kevin White is the new No. 1 and spent his first two seasons mending broken legs, it's easy to see the Bears drafting a wide receiver in the first or second round.
With Glennon signed, Mark Sanchez under contract as a backup, and pet project Connor Shaw healed from a broken leg, it could make the Bears less likely to reach in the first round for a quarterback from a pool some regard as questionable.
There are obvious needs at cornerback, safety and even defensive end after several weeks of free agency.
The Bears added veteran free-agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, and already have Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and two viable candidates for nickel back returning. But they lack two proven safeties, although they might have one after signing Quintin Demps in free agency.
In two seasons since Vic Fangio became defensive coordinator and John Fox head coach, the Bears have three total interceptions by safeties.
Here is a closer look at where the Bears are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, No. 3 overall.
2016 finish: 4th NFC North (3-13)
TOTAL OFFENSE: 356.5 (15th)
RUSHING: 108.4 (17th)
PASSING: 248.1 (14th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 346.8 (15th)
RUSHING: 121.9 (27th)
PASSING: 224.9 (7th)
1. Safety: Pairing veteran Quintin Demps with an all-around physical force like Jamal Adams or with a big-time playmaker like Jabrill Peppers would be ideal for a secondary that played a huge role in tying the NFL record for fewest turnovers caused (11) last year.
2. Wide receiver: With no experienced standout receiver, and questions surrounding every other expected contributor, it would be difficult to envision a Bears draft without a receiver being selected in the first or second round. The 6-foot-4 size of Clemson's Mike Williams makes him an ideal replacement for Alshon Jeffery. Later in Round 1 it would be hard to pass on the ridiculous speed displayed by Washington's John Ross.
3. Defensive end: Jonathan Allen would be an easy pick in the first round to come in and start immediately at end, but questions about arthritis in his shoulders persist. The Bears have more talent available to answer their need at cornerback. At end, they have last year's third round pick Jonathan Bullard, who struggled.
KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 5)
CB Johnthan Banks: UFA; $855K/1 yr, $80K SB/$280K guaranteed.
K Connor Barth: UFA; $980K/1 yr, $80K SB.
LB Christian Jones: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
C/G Eric Kush: Potential UFA; $2.5M2 yrs, $500K guaranteed.
S Chris Prosinski: UFA; $855K/1 yr, $80K SB.
WR Deonte Thompson: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
NT C.J. Wilson: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
CB Prince Amukamara: UFA Jaguars; $7M/1 yr, $3.5M SB/$7M guaranteed.
T Tom Compton: UFA Falcons; $1.85M/1 yr, $850K SB.
CB Marcus Cooper: UFA Cardinals; $16M/3 yrs, $1.5M SB/$8M guaranteed; $2M injury only at time of signing.
RB Benny Cunningham: UFA Rams; $855K/1 yr, $80K SB.
S Quintin Demps: UFA Texans; $13.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB/$5M guaranteed.
QB Mike Glennon: UFA Buccaneers; $45M/3 yrs, $3M SB/$18.5M guaranteed.
NT John Jenkins: UFA Seahawks; $900K/1 yr, $100 SB.
TE Justin Perillo: FA; $615,000/1 yr.
QB Mark Sanchez: UFA Cowboys; $2M/1 yr, $750 SB/$1M guaranteed.
TE Dion Sims: UFA Dolphins; $18M/3 yrs, $1M SB/$10M guaranteed, $4M injury only at time of signing.
WR Markus Wheaton: UFA Steelers; $11M/2 yrs, $1.5M SB/$3M guaranteed.
WR Kendall Wright: UFA Titans; $2M/1 yr, $250K SB/$1.5M guaranteed.
QB Matt Barkley: UFA 49ers; $4M/2 yrs, $500K SB.
QB Jay Cutler (released/failed physical).
DE Ego Ferguson (released).
QB Brian Hoyer: UFA 49ers; $12M/2 yrs, $4M SB/$9.85M guaranteed; $2.75M injury only at time of signing.
WR Alshon Jeffery: UFA Eagles; $9.5M/1 yr, $7.75M SB/$8.75M guaranteed.
G/C Ted Larsen: UFA Dolphins; $5.65M/3 yrs, $1.25M SB/$1.75M guaranteed.
T Matt McCants: UFA Browns; terms unknown.
TE Logan Paulsen: UFA 49ers; $1M/1 yr, $125K SB.
LB Josh Shirley (released).
DE Cornelius Washington: UFA Lions; $5.825M/2 yrs, $1.55M SB.
NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 3 overall)
Jamal Adams, SS, LSU. Safety has long been a sore spot in Chicago with only one Bears safety (Mike Brown) earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl over the past 20 years. Adams has that kind of potential and is viewed by some as the safest prospect in the draft. He is a tone-setter with a rare combination of instincts, athleticism and intangibles to make an immediate impact on a defense that made strides a year ago but allowed 24.9 points per game, 24th in the NFL.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The Bears signed Prince Amukamara to a one-year "prove-it" deal, but there are still plenty of question marks at cornerback for Chicago. If the doctors give two thumbs up then Lattimore is worth this high selection.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team's current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.