Chicago Bears 2022 Offseason Previewby Brandon Braasch February 17, 2022 1 comment
It has been about a month since the Chicago Bears cleaned house, firing head coach, Matt Nagy, and general manager, Ryan Pace. Since then, they have filled most of their front office and coaching staff. It all started when they hired the now-former Chiefs executive, Ryan Poles. He then hired Matt Eberflus as head coach who has since put together a very well-respected staff. Chicago will have high hopes for the upcoming season especially with an entirely new offense being implemented for Justin Fields in his sophomore year.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Offseason Previews.
Pending Free Agents
According to Over the Cap, the Bears have a projected $28.6 million in cap space. They also have 36 upcoming free agents. Of those 36 only eight of them played significant snaps. With all those guys being signed by Pace there is a very good chance Poles doesn’t bring any of their free agents back. With that being said here are a few of the more notable ones to Bears fans.
Hicks will be entering free agency after playing on the final season of his four-year 48 million dollar extension he signed back in 2017. He has been with Chicago since the 2016 season. Hicks was very good the first three seasons getting a total of 23 sacks and playing in every single game. However, in the final three seasons, he was banged up often playing in only 29 out of 49 games. It’s almost guaranteed that Hicks will not be brought back as he was quoted late in the season saying “I just wanna play good football and say goodbye to Chicago in the right way.”
In March of last season, Dalton signed a one-year deal with Chicago fully expecting to be the starter all season. He began the year as QB1 before getting hurt in week two and losing the job to rookie Fields. In the end, he only wound up starting six games and finished the year with nine interceptions to only eight passing touchdowns. Dalton will turn towards free agency to look for a starting gig in 2022.
Robinson had a very disappointing 2021 season. He ended up playing on the franchise tag and had the worst year of his career. A big reason for that is believed to be the coaching. Even with the coaching staff gone, it is highly unlikely Robinson returns to Chicago. He expressed his displeasure with how the season went many times on Twitter and it will likely end with him ready for a fresh start. However, if the new front office and coaching staff have positive discussions with Robinson maybe they convince each other to give it another run. More than likely it ends with Robinson going elsewhere in March.
Potential Cap Casualties
The good news for the Bears is that they have Fields and a lot of their offensive guys on rookie deals. The bad news is they have an aging defense with a lot of their cap put into them. With that being said they are still in decent shape cap-wise. However, with a lot of holes to fill on offense look for Poles to make quite a few cuts to help save some extra money.
Eddie Goldman ($6.6 Million Saved)
After sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID reasons, Goldman made his return in 2021. However, he wasn’t nearly as impactful as he was expected to be. He recorded only half a sack and 22 tackles in 10 games started. He’s an obvious cut with the money they can save, especially with the defense shifting to a 4-3 under Eberflus.
Tarik Cohen ($2.25 Million Saved)
Cohen hasn’t seen the field in nearly two years due to an ACL injury. It may be time for the Bears to just take the loss with Cohen and move on. Especially, with Khalil Herbert emerging and showing some good potential as a change of pace to David Montgomery. They could attempt to trade Cohen but it will be tough to find a team willing to take him in after missing so much time.
Nick Foles ($3 Million Saved)
The trade for Nick Foles might just be the worst move in Pace’s tenure. They spent a lot of money and even lost picks on a guy that has mostly been a backup and even third-string for most of this past season. To make things worse, it was reported at last year’s deadline that the Bears had trade interest but didn’t pull the trigger on a trade. Poles may feel it’s time to just cut ties and save what they can on Foles unless they can find a trade partner.
Open Market Free Agent Targets
The Bears roster has quite a few gaps they need to fill. The three most important positions they need to improve are the offensive line, adding some receivers, and filling in their secondary. Poles will have his work cut out for him, especially with limited draft picks. That will likely force him to be active in the free-agent market.
Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints
Poles is a former lineman and understands the importance of a good offensive line. This would be a huge signing for the Bears if he was able to pull this off. Armstead would immediately improve the Bears line after they allowed a league-high 58 sacks in 2021. That compared to Armstead who only allowed one sack last season according to PFF. Bringing him in would allow the Bears to slide Teven Jenkins back to his natural right tackle position and Larry Borom could move inside to guard. That would also allow them to let James Daniels walk while still strengthening the line.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Gallup is coming off a major injury but he is expected to make a full recovery and be good to go sometime early next season. Because of the injury that should make Gallup more affordable for Chicago. He would be a great addition opposite Darnell Mooney. Gallup has shown the ability to go up and high point the football and make plays downfield which is exactly what Fields needs. Look for Poles to at least make offers for Gallup in free agency.
Charvarius Ward, Kansas City Chiefs
The Bears defense desperately struggled to find a second corner last year. Ward would be just that for their defense. He would be a very good option to pair with Jaylon Johnson on the outside and potentially Thomas Graham Jr in the slot. Furthermore, Ward has previous ties with Poles having both been in the Chiefs organization the last four seasons. If the price is right, the Bears should definitely take a look at Ward next month.
Previewing the 2022 NFL Draft
The Bears will enter the NFL draft in the bottom five in terms of draft capital. The biggest reason for that was them trading their first and their fourth-round pick to move up and draft Justin Fields last year. With such little draft capital, they may need to look at moving down a few times in the draft to add more draft picks.
Round 2 Pick 39: Wide Receiver
Mooney and Dazz Newsome are currently the only wide receivers on the active roster so receiver is a big need. Fields needs more weapons and George Pickens would be a perfect fit. He has elite potential but is similar to Gallup also coming off an ACL injury. Pickens did return to limited capacity in his final four games at Georgia so he and Fields would be able to get a full off-season together. However, with this pick, if Chris Olave were to slip it would be a no-brainer to pair Fields with his former Ohio State teammate.
Round 3, Pick 71: Cornerback
The Bears could choose to go cornerback with their second-round pick if a receiver they like doesn’t slip to them. However, if they do go receiver they should look to add some depth at cornerback with this pick. After cutting Kyle Fuller last off-season they only had one reliable corner in Johnson. Another option with this pick would be a trade back. If they were able to add some later picks to slide back to a late third-rounder that would be ideal for Chicago.
Early 2022 Expectations
Bears fans have many reasons to be excited about the 2022 season. They have a brand new coaching staff, a brand new front office, and a young quarterback with loads of potential. If they are able to put more pieces around Fields and retool the defense, the Bears could be playoff contenders in 2022. However, Bears fans may want to head into the season just hoping to see some development from Fields while also being competitive.
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