The Bears are making wholesale roster changes this offseason. A bunch of new players will be brought in with the 120 million dollars they have available to them. But, every roster has core and foundational pieces. Who are those guys for the Bears?
1. QB Justin Fields
No, the Bears shouldn’t take a Quarterback at number 1 overall, and I don’t think that it will happen. What the Bears surrounded Justin Fields with in terms of protection and weapons is not enough to make a clear evaluation that he isn’t the franchise guy, especially after only his 2nd year. He deserves another year to prove himself with a better offensive line and better weapons. Fields needs to grow as a passer and that should be obvious to everyone, including him and the coaching staff. He has to get better in structure. This is all stuff that happens as guys are in the league longer, and I expect the same growth for Fields.
2. RG Teven Jenkins
Teven Jenkins was an incredible Chicago Bears success story this season. At the start of training camp in July, it looked like he’d end up being traded or even cut. Instead, he moved to Right Guard and was one of the 5 best Right Guards in the league this season. The best player on the Bears team overall this year was likely Jenkins. I don’t see the Teven Jenkins trade talks re-surfacing, simply due to how good he was and he was also the only good offensive lineman protecting Justin Fields. Jenkins is also a beast in the run game. That’s a great guy to have to start your rebuild. He knows how to get through adversity, he plays hard every play, and most importantly, he defends his QB when he gets hit late. I want Jenkins to get a bit more sound from a technical standpoint, but he’s only going to get better.
3. CB Jaylon Johnson
Jaylon Johnson is one of the cornerstone defensive pieces moving forward for the Bears on the defensive side of the ball. While Johnson only has 1 INT in 39 games, he is the definition of a lockdown corner. He has a strong mentality to go against all of the league’s WR1s. It’s a shame that Johnson missed the last few weeks of the season, because he was going to have to face Stefon Diggs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Justin Jefferson. Those are all top 10 Wide Receivers who had pro bowl caliber seasons. Jaylon Johnson has been looked at as a great pick since the night he was drafted in 2020. He has looked the part and has, at points in his career, played like a top 10 Cornerback in the NFL. The Bears need to lock him up long term this offseason so Ryan Poles isn’t stuck in another situation like the Roquan Smith situation.
4. SS Jaquan Brisker
Jaquan Brisker was one of the steals of the draft. The Bears got him using the pick they got from the Chargers in the Khalil Mack trade, and man, he was worth it in his rookie season. He led the Bears in sacks, played over 100 snaps in 4 different roles. 371 snaps in the box, 289 snaps at free safety, 150 snaps at the line of scrimmage, and 100 snaps in the slot. Having a chess piece like that on defense has become super important in today’s NFL due to the athleticism of the offensive players and how versatile guys are in terms of where guys line up offensively. The Bears have a great safety duo with the rookie Jaquan Brisker along with the veteran Eddie Jackson, who in my eyes was playing like an all pro safety this season before the season ended.
5. Whoever the Bears use their highest draft pick on
Quite simply, other than Justin Fields, this is the most important Bears draft pick in years. It’s so important that they get this right. Ryan Pace messed up the Mitchell Trubisky draft pick and ultimately, that’s why we are in this situation 6 years later. If Ryan Poles plays his cards right, the Bears will not pick this high in the draft again. We all assume the Bears will take a defensive player, and the Bears definitely need more defensive cornerstones. I like the position Poles is in, now he has to capitalize. Having the most cap space in football by a wide margin along with the number 1 overall pick all in 1 offseason is something that can forever change the Bears franchise. You can sign good players, trade for good players, draft the best prospect in the draft, and gain future draft picks by trading down from number 1 overall. In 2021, we saw Miami land the third overall pick, but trade back with San Francisco, who had the 6th overall pick at that point. The trade landed Miami 3 first round picks. They used those picks to draft Jaylen Waddle, trade for Tyreek Hill, and trade for Bradley Chubb. Those are 3 of their top 5 players on their team. So no, it isn’t an overreaction how Bears fans are acting due to them landing the first overall pick. This is a franchise-changing offseason, and now it’s on General Manager Ryan Poles to capitalize on it and get this franchise turned around.