A Look at the Chicago Bears Offseason
As a lifelong Bears fan, the last season from the Bears was disappointing in many ways. They went 6-11 and ranked 23rd and 27th in the league for offense and defense respectively, according to PFF. That’s well below average so they knew that they needed to make changes and get a lot better in many places. I think that they really need to build around probable franchise quarterback Justin Fields, which they haven’t so far, but this shouldn’t lead everyone to believe that they don’t believe in him. They’re probably just getting rid of a lot of our contracts after this season to have money to spend next year in order to build around him. I’ll highlight all of the changes that the Bears made to see what exactly they did throughout this offseason.
They started by going from Ryan Pace to Ryan Poles as the new GM. Poles spent 13 seasons in the Chiefs’ front office, most recently serving as the executive director of player personnel. They then parted ways with ex-head coach Matt Nagy and hired Matt Eberflus as head coach. Nagy was a former Coach of the Year with the Bears, but it was all downhill from there. I believe that these are good moves simply because they were in shambles as the stats and record show, so tearing everything down makes sense to me. Only time will tell if they hired the right guys, but it could get worse because of the growing pains before it (hopefully) eventually gets better.
Free Agency Departures
I’ll start the actual roster moves with who ended up leaving the team after last season. We lost quite a bit of talent, but here are the top five players that we lost to free agency this offseason.
- Allen Robinson, WR ->Rams. 3-year, $46.5 Million
- James Daniels, G->Steelers. 3-year, $26.5 Million
- Jakeem Grant, WR->Browns. 3-year, $10 Million
- Bilal Nichols, DE-> Raiders. 2-year, $8.625 Million
- Andy Dalton, QB-> Saints. 1-year, $3 Million
We lost some others, but not many consequential players outside of this list. Allen Robinson is easily the biggest loss for the Bears. He is such a talented receiver but has been plagued by bad quarterback play his entire career. Fields needs all the help he can get being a young quarterback and loses a principal component of the offense. James Daniels is also a pretty big loss because our offensive line struggled mightily last year and Daniels was a solid player. The contract he eventually signed with the Steelers also seems pretty reasonable to me, along with other fans as they weren’t too happy we let him walk.
Bilal Nichols is also a pretty big loss for the Bears after being a pretty solid player in their defensive system for a few years. I think he just didn’t align with the new Eberflus system as well, and the Bears ultimately let him walk. Seeming to get rid of a few contracts and will hopefully have more money to work with next year.
Free Agency Acquisitions
- Byron Pringle, WR via Chiefs. 1-year, $4.125 Million
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR via Packers. 1-year, $965,000
- Tavon Young, CB via Ravens. 1-year, $1.365 Million
- Nicholas Morrow, LB via Raiders. 1-year, $3 Million
- Justin Jones, DT via Chargers. 2-year, $12 Million
They added some talent, but it’s nothing compared to what was lost in free agency. Pringle may be the other receiver Fields throws to other than Darnell Mooney in the absence of Robinson. He had 568 yards and five touchdowns with a 66 PFF grade for the Chiefs last season. I would like to see a breakout year for Pringle in an expanded role with the Bears. Equan is another receiver added to the rotation for Fields. He didn’t do much last year but is around 25 years old, so he has more room to grow compared to the 28-year-old Pringle.
The three guys added to the defense are Jones, Young, and Morrow. Morrow will be another linebacker to coincide with Roquan Smith. He is a smaller, but faster linebacker that should do well in this scheme. Young is also undersized at 5’9″, but should find his role on the defense. Jones is a bigger-bodied defensive tackle that can eat up space, freeing up our linebackers.
I will also note the Khalil Mack trade here before we get into the draft. Mack was a dominant force on our defense for a while but was battling an ankle injury, making him not as productive. They traded Mack to the Chargers for a second-round pick and, while I thought we could get more, I think it was a great move. I just think they need to get younger and free up some wiggle room for the future now that we have a younger quarterback.
They had a really good draft in my opinion given how the draft board eventually fell. Many fans wanted to see them take more help for Fields, but we got some great players defensively throughout this draft.
Pick 39: CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
Pick 46: S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Pick 71: WR Velus Jones Jr, Tennessee
Pick 168: OT Braxton Jones, Southern Utah
Pick 174: OLB Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH)
Pick 186: OT Zachary Thomas, San Diego State
Pick 203: RB Tristan Ebner, Baylor
Pick 207: C Doug Kramer, Illinois
Pick 226: OG Ja’Tyre Carter, Southern
Pick 254: S Elijah Hicks, California
Pick 255: P, Trenton Gill, NC State
They had 11 picks in the draft despite not having a first-round selection. Poles got astounding value later in the draft by constantly trading down to stack more picks. I’m ecstatic with what they got in the Draft as well. I’m most excited to see Jaquan Brisker (who I wrote an article on) in this defense, as he was one of my favorite underrated players this year. Kyler Gordon is also a hyper athlete to pair at corner with Jaylon Johnson. We do end up getting Fields some assistance later on in the draft in Velus Jones and some offensive linemen. Jones is 25 as of about a week ago, so he is an older rookie but I still hope he can build some chemistry with Fields. Given the resources Poles was working with, I think he added some serious talent to the team.
Overall Grade: C
I’ll go with a flat C grade for the Bears’ offseason. No bias with the grade, but I don’t think Poles was equipped to do too much better this year. There are some things that I would’ve liked to see him do differently, but I personally don’t mind any of Poles’ moves so far. I want to see a lot more from him next year though to see Fields truly shine.