The deals: Alan Ball (one year, $3 million total, $1 million guaranteed), Tracy Porter (one year, veteran minimum).
What happened: Ball got the bigger deal, but Porter was the better player. After starting the first three games of 2015, Ball played sparingly the rest of the season. After being slowed by a hamstring injury, Porter took over in Week 4 and became one of the Bears’ best players. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio often matched Porter against the opponent’s best receiver. Porter played 81.9 percent of the defensive snaps, breaking up 22 passes and making one interception.
What it means for ’16: The Bears need a cornerback. Porter will turn 30 in August and is looking to turn his strong season into what might be his final NFL payday. Should the Bears give it to him? Fangio has said he wants him back, but cost is everything. Ball, meanwhile, is unlikely to return. He will turn 31 this month. Janoris Jenkins (Rams) and Sean Smith (Chiefs) are the top cornerbacks on the market.