It’s officially time for the Bears to begin their roster turnover. Last season was a weird one with COVID, a six-game losing streak, but somehow making the playoffs. Chicago got crushed 21-9 on the road against New Orleans in the Wild Card round. Now, a big off-season looms for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, who could easily have their jobs on the line if this upcoming season isn’t successful. Here are steps the Bears should take this off-season to remain contenders next season.
Re-Sign or Franchise Tag Allen Robinson
This is a no-brainer. AR has been the best and most consistent WR on the team since he got here. He only missed three games over the course of his Bears tenure and all came in 2018. 255 receptions, 2151 receiving yards, and 17 TDs in his three seasons with Chicago. Robinson had a great connection with Mitchell Trubisky, and his veteran leadership was invaluable. Pace and Robinson’s representation couldn’t get a deal going over the course of the regular season, and there hasn’t been much talk of a new contract recently.
AR has expressed his desire to remain a Bear, but will not settle until he gets his bag. Clearly he deserves it and the Bears should be prepared to use the franchise tag if necessary. The QB of Chicago, whether it’s Trubisky or somebody new, needs a guy like Robinson to throw to. With the futures of Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, and Cordarrelle Patterson uncertain, getting back Robinson will be key for the WR group.
Figure Out the QB Situation
Mitch? Wentz? Draft? Either way, the Bears need a clear answer at QB. The Foles experiment did not work, and if a Wentz trade goes through, Foles will more than likely be a part of it. I’m not opposed to a Wentz trade, but you can get the same production from Trubisky. Wentz had a down year in Philly similar to Mitch getting benched this season. I don’t think it’s worth giving up more draft capital to get a player who can’t really be considered an upgrade. At that point, it’s best to draft a QB and see what happens. Bringing back Mitch on a one-year deal as a bridge isn’t a bad route to take either. He showed signs of improvement after his benching, and his teammates always rave about what a great locker room guy he is.
Mitch’s tenure with the Bears has been rocky. Aside from 2018, there wasn’t much success. Sure, there were flashes, however, there was also inconsistencies. What we saw at the end of the season received some questioning because of the defenses the Bears played. However, it still showed Trubisky improving. It’s worth bringing him back on a one-year prove-it deal if the Bears were to draft a QB. There will be shifting at the QB position, it’s just a matter of what route Pace decides to take.
J.J. to the Bears?
There’s already a lot to talk about J.J. Watt to the Bears. I would love to see it. Trading or cutting Robert Quinn would be the first step to making it happen. Quinn had a dismal first season after signing a $75 million deal. Easily one of Pace’s worse signings. Mack and Watt on the same line would be insane.
In his 10-year run with the Texans, Watt recording 101 sacks, 61 passes defended, 494 tackles, and 25 forced fumbles. To add to that, he’s a 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 5x 1st Team All-Pro, and 5x Pro Bowler. He’s a one-man wrecking crew on the line and he could help a Bears D that struggled in the pass rush at times. With Eddie Goldman potentially opting back in, Mack, and Hicks, Watt would bring the Bears D to a whole new level under new DC Sean Desai. Obviously, there are other suitors for Watt including the Steelers who have his brothers. Watt’s market is going to be crazy, so we’ll see how it plays out.
Upgrade the O-Line
It’s no secret the Bears O-line was a mess at various times this year. The unit got much better at the end of the season with the emergence of Sam Mustipher, and better play from Charles Leno Jr. Chicago will need to look at the draft, trade market, or free agency to improve this unit. Leno and Massie could be replaced, but the interior of the Bears O-Line is set with Whitehair, Mustipher, and the return of James Daniels. The Bears also need to add more depth on the line. Rashaad Coward should be gone and Germain Ifedi is a free agent.
The Bears defense was good, not great. The linebacker position needs more depth, and Barkevious Mingo should be brought back as he performed well last season with 2.5 sacks and 23 tackles. Of course, there still needs to be more moves made but Mingo is a step in the right direction. Furthermore, Tashaun Gipson is a free agent, but he also played well in his first season with the Bears (48 tackles and two interceptions). The Bears have yet to find a more long-term replacement for Adrian Amos. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Gipson have been short-term options. Could Gipson be more long-term? Even if he’s resigned to a one-year deal, it will provide some continuity for the Bears secondary.
Speaking of secondary, we saw the Bears need for more veteran depth. Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley played their best under the circumstances, but it showed a lack of depth for the secondary. Jaylon Johnson will be fully healthy and that will provide a spark, but Buster Skrine’s future is uncertain, and his play was average at best. We didn’t see many takeaways from Pagano’s D, but new DC Sean Desai learned a lot from former DC Vic Fangio. We could see an improved defensive unit next season.
At the End of the Day…
The Bears need help. Help on offense and defense. Keeping some free agents will be key like Allen Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Barkevious Mingo, and Tashaun Gipson. Needs can and will be filled through free agency, draft, and possibly, trades. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have a lot of work to do in order to save this team and their jobs. A lot of pieces are in place for the Bears, but each move made will need to be a smart one with cap space constraints. Time to get to work, Chicago Bears.