There’s a lot that is being said about the Chicago Bears right now. A lot of the press that the franchise is getting is negative.
New General Manager Ryan Poles is getting a lot of flack for the lack of support he gave Quarterback Justin Fields this offseason. The argument can certainly be made that Poles didn’t do as much as he could have to put weapons and protection in place for Fields.
However, Poles just got hired six months ago, and was handed an absolutely horrible situation. The roster was filled with old players who were past their primes, bad contracts, players who didn’t want to be here, and some guys who fit into multiple of those categories.
Players such as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Allen Robinson II, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Goldman, James Daniels, Danny Trevathan, Bilal Nichols, Jimmy Graham and some others who have been staples on this team the last 5 or so years in some capacity.Even a young 2nd year Offensive Tackle in Teven Jenkins who was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, looks like he won’t play another snap with the team, and who knows if star Linebacker Roquan Smith will even be back.
Ryan Poles is now faced with tackling a full on rebuild. He and Head Coach Matt Eberflus are tasked with changing the culture, rebuilding the roster from top to bottom, and setting this team up for future success.
Obviously, in today’s NFL, the most important player on any given team is the Quarterback. Justin Fields is an still unknown, but he has a ton of talent and a ton of potential to be a really good franchise Quarterback moving forward for this team.
Some of the potential cornerstones on this young and thin roster are Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney, Jaylon Johnson, Hopefully Roquan Smith, Cole Kmet, Trevis Gipson, Kyler Gordon, and Jaquan Brisker.
The only remaining extremely large contract given out by the last regime of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy is EDGE Rusher Robert Quinn. He was signed before the 2020 season. Quinn disappointed in his first year. In 2021, Quinn had the best season a Chicago Bears Edge rusher has ever had, and that says a lot with the rich history of Chicago Bears defense.
The 2022 season isn’t expected to be one that contains a lot of winning for the Bears, but I think it’s going to be a season that will be quickly left in the rear view mirror when it’s over.
The Bears will enter the offseason with well over $100 million in salary cap space, and the pressure will be on General Manager Ryan Poles to go out and get a few stars or go out and sign a bunch of really solid players. The only problem that rests on the shoulder of the Bears is that there’s not going to be a lot of high level players who will take less money to sign with Chicago. This is where having a ton of cap space comes in. Overpaying for a player won’t drastically impact the plan of the offseason.
Then, you have the NFL Draft. The Bears will almost surely have a top 10 pick, maybe even top 5. That pick will be super important no matter who it is and what side of the ball he plays on. It could be an Offensive Lineman, Wide Receiver, EDGE, or Linebacker. That player will be expected to come in and start right away and be a cornerstone piece of this franchise moving forward.
I talked about Robert Quinn earlier. He is likely being looked at by many contenders around the league right now, and will be until the trade deadline. The Bears accumulating draft picks that will help accelerate this rebuilding process is more important than hanging onto a 32 year old pass rusher who will only lose trade value and get older with time.
So the expectations moving into the 2023 offseason should be to start making this team good enough to make it to the playoffs and appealing to Quarterback Justin Fields as a long term home after the 2023 season, when he becomes extension eligible (If he plays well enough to earn that extension).
The answer to this article’s title is that the direction of the Chicago Bears is really unknown until next offseason. The roster is so devoid of talent right now, and there’s so many players who will be on the 2023 roster who currently play on different teams.