After starting the season 5-1, the Chicago Bears then lost six games in a row. That put head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the hot seat. However, after the six-game skid, they rallied back and finished the season 8-8 for the second year in a row. With the expanded playoff field, the Bears made the playoffs but were eliminated by the New Orleans Saints by a score of 21-9.
Pending Free Agents
Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback
The Bears decided to decline Trubiskys fifth-year option so, he will now become an unrestricted free agent. There are some rumors that Trubisky has no interest in returning to the Bears and the Bears have no interest in bringing Trubisky back. However, if they are unable to find a replacement, then Trubisky very well could be the best option they have. They could give him a small one-year deal and not have to trade any future assets for a quarterback. They then can build up the offensive line, add some weapons, and then if Trubisky still doesn’t work out, they can move up in the 2022 NFL draft.
Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver
Robinson is the biggest and most important free agent the Bears have this offseason. Not only is he Chicago’s best wide receiver, but he is among the best receivers in the league. Robinson will be a top target on many teams list this free agency. The Bears could franchise tag him, but Robinson has made it clear that he wants a long-term deal. There will be a competitive market for Robinson, and as upsetting as it may be, Bears fans should not be surprised if he walks.
Tashaun Gipson, Safety
Gipson was brought in this season on a one-year deal after being cut by the Houston Texans the last offseason. Bringing back Gipson is a possibility for the Bears. He was a good fit alongside Eddie Jackson, and if the market is not too high, they should consider bringing him back. If not, he will be a veteran safety for any team willing to sign him in free agency.
Alex Bars, Guard
Bars was apart of the revamped Bears offensive line after getting his shot due to injuries. Bars is a guard but showed his versatility when he stepped up against the Tennessee Titans and played center for the first time in his career. He ultimately settled in and played the final seven games of the season at guard. Bars is a solid offensive lineman, and the Bears should look to bring him back in 2021.
Potential Cap Casualties
According to overthecap.com, the Bears are currently $2.5 million over the salary cap. There is some good news, though. The good news is that they have plenty of options to cut some players and get below the cap. Pace has also been good at restructuring contracts since he joined the Bears in 2015. Look for the Bears to be active during the cut deadline.
Akiem Hicks, DT (10.5 Million Saved)
Hicks has become a fan favorite, and this move would be a tough one to make in terms of appealing to the fans. Eddie Goldman is slated to return, and they may choose to get younger and draft another defensive tackle to play alongside Goldman. If they cut Hicks, it will save them a lot of money while only costing one and a half million in dead cap. However, they could go the other direction with Hicks by extending him and restructuring his contract.
Jimmy Graham, TE (7 Million Saved)
Graham was a very good veteran signing this year and put up some solid numbers. He scored eight touchdowns and was a great mentor for rookie Cole Kmet. However, it is Kmet’s time in Chicago as he will look to take the next step in becoming a top tight end in the league. Cutting Graham would save them a good chunk of money, and Bears fans should expect to see that this offseason.
Bobby Massie, OT (5.4 Million Saved)
Massie is coming up on 32 years old, and some moves need to be made to improve the offensive line. With his age and his injuries, Massie could very well be cut. Between Massie and Charles Leno, one will be cut. They could also choose to do a complete overhaul on the line and cut both of them. Either way, they are very likely to release Massie.
Open Market Free Agent Targets
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens
David Montgomery is the top running back in Chicago. However, as we saw last season, injuries happen, especially at the running back position. If Montgomery was to go down, then Tarik Cohen would not be able to handle a full workload. If the Bears were able to bring Ingram in on a team-friendly contract, he would be a great addition. Even if he didn’t see many snaps, he would still be a great veteran to have in the locker room.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
If the Bears choose to let Robinson walk, Davis, who is among the top free-agent receivers, should be their top target. In his first season after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the fifth overall pick, he was a disappointment. Davis was unable to find the end zone in his first year and only had 375 receiving yards. This past season Davis had his best season as a pro catching 65 passes for 984 yards and five touchdowns. A change of scenery might be just what Davis needs to take the next step in his NFL career.
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
The Bears are very familiar with Jones as he has been a member of the Detroit Lions the past five seasons. Jones would be a great addition whether they were able to re-sign Robinson or not. The offense needs more playmakers. While Jones isn’t a number one receiver, he has made plays when they’re needed. In five seasons in Detroit, he scored 36 touchdowns. If they sign Jones, look for them to either bring back A-Rob or draft another receiver.
Cam Robinson, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round of the 2017 draft, out of Alabama. If the Bears choose to cut Massie, then Robinson would be a solid replacement. He is still only 25 years old. The Bears could sign him to a short-term deal and draft a tackle. That would give them some much-needed depth on the offensive line and, more specifically, the tackle position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
Fitzpatrick may not be a popular signing. However, if the front office can’t make any big splash trades or move up in the draft, they will be forced to look at free agency. Fitzpatrick may not be the best, but he plays with a lot of heart and would be able to win some football games in Chicago. He has shown that he still has some magic left in the tank with his play in Miami and Tampa Bay the last couple of seasons.
Previewing the Draft
Chicago has a first-round pick for the first time since they drafted Roquan Smith in 2018. It truly is a mystery what Pace is going to do with their first pick. However, it plays out Bears fans should expect Pace to be aggressive during the draft. He has shown that he is willing to trade up to draft the guys he is targeting. Either way, this draft will be very interesting for Bears fans.
Round 1, Pick 20: Offensive Tackle
This pick has been rumored to be part of almost any big trade the Bears have been involved in. If they choose to hold at this spot, they need to beef up the offensive line. They should go tackle here even if they end up signing one in free agency. Depth on the line is much needed, and the Bears learned that last season with all of their injuries. The good news for them is there are plenty of talented offensive tackles in this draft that could be available at this pick.
Round 2, Pick 52: Wide Receiver
If the Bears lose Robinson, they need to add some receivers through free agency and the draft. They were able to snag Darnell Mooney last year in the fifth round, and he looks like he has the tools to be a very good receiver in the league. However, they still need to add talent to their receiving core. If they are lucky, some receivers might slip to them with this pick. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Rondale Moore are some targets that Bears fans should be ecstatic about if they fell to them at this pick.
Round 3, Pick 83: Edge Rusher
If the Bears choose to let Robinson walk, they could potentially use this pick for another receiver. However, if they don’t go receiver back to back, they should look add some more pass rushers. Robert Quinn was signed last season to be opposite Khalil Mack. He underperformed and only had two sacks on the year. The defense needs to get younger, and drafting an edge rusher at this slot will do just that.
Early 2021 Expectations
The Bears are right in the middle of being a contender and looking to rebuild/retool. This will likely be Pace and Nagy’s final year if they don’t show some promise. The good news for Bears fans is they can expect them to come out swinging. The bad news is they might make some aggressive moves that may not work out. If they can get their defense back to what it was in 2018, they will contend for a wild card spot. If the defense performs up to par and the offense is revamped, Chicago might contend for the top spot in the NFC North. Either way, expect some fireworks out of the Bears in 2021.