10 moves the Bears should make in free agency
The Chicago Bears have some pressing needs to address heading into free agency as general manager Ryan Poles looks to retool arguably the league’s worst roster last season.
For Poles, he’s got plenty of resources — roughly $100 million in salary cap space to be precise — to retool this roster at a number of positions. He has some important decisions to make about big-name veterans hitting the open market and any in-house free agents worth bringing back, including running back David Montgomery.
With free agency just around the corner, we’re taking a look at 10 moves we’d like to see the Bears consider making to improve their roster:
Sign DT Javon Hargrave
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The Bears are in need of a disruptive three-technique to power Matt Eberflus’ defense, and Javon Hargrave fits that mold. Hargrave is coming off a career year as part of a dominant Eagles defense, where he totaled a career-high 11 sacks from the interior. Hargrave is an athletic run stuffer and knows how to get after the quarterback, and he’d be the perfect piece to solidify the interior of the defensive line.
Sign DT Dre'Mont Jones
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If the Bears opt to go the younger route, they should look to Dre’Mont Jones to be the anchor of the defensive line. Jones, who is just 26, is one of the best defensive tackle prospects set to hit free agency, and he’s coming off a career year with 6.5 sacks, 10 QB hits, 9 tackles for loss and 1 forced fumble in 13 games with the Broncos. Jones brings both the interior pass rush and run stopping ability that the Bears defensive line desperately needs.
Sign RT Mike McGlinchey
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The Bears have a gaping hole at right tackle, a position that could be addressed by bringing in a left tackle (and moving Braxton Jones to the right side) or landing a big-name like Mike McGlinchey. McGlinchey has been a solid right tackle in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, where he’s been reliable in both pass protection and run blocking.
Trade for WR Tee Higgins
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The Bears need a No. 1 wide receiver for Justin Fields, and Bengals wideout Tee Higgins would be the perfect get for Poles. Higgins, 24, is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, and he’s proven to be the kind of playmaker Chicago lacks. There’s no indication that Cincinnati is looking to deal Higgins. But with Higgins due an extension and the Bengals needing to lock up Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase in the coming years, they might not be able to keep all three.
Sign G Ben Powers
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Ben Powers was part of one of the NFL’s best offensive lines this past year with the Ravens, and there’s certainly a big pay day in his future. Powers started all 17 games and one postseason contest for Baltimore. In 1,094 offensive snaps — including 597 pass plays — Powers allowed just 12 pressures, one QB hit and zero sacks for the entire season. With Cody Whitehair’s massive $14.1 million cap hit, the Bears could part ways with Whitehair and bring in Powers to help anchor the left side of the line.
Sign DE Arden Key
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The Bears desperately need help at defensive end, and Arden Key is one of the top edge rushers set to hit free agency. While Key had a rough start to his NFL career, he really hit his stride over the last two seasons as a rotational piece, where he totaled 11 sacks, 39 quarterback hits and 80 pressures. Key, 26, has a 14.6% pressure rate, which ranks 17th among edge rushers over the last two seasons. Key is a sleeper to keep an eye on for Chicago, especially given he won’t necessarily break the bank.
Sign TE Mike Gesicki
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Chicago should be looking to add more playmakers around Justin Fields, and Mike Gesicki would be the perfect addition to the Bears’ passing game. Last year, Gesicki had his worst production since his rookie season, totaling just 32 catches for 362 yards. But he eclipsed 700 receiving yards in each of the previous two years with the Dolphins, and he’d be the kind of playmaker that could help this passing game thrive. Gesicki is the top tight end to hit the free agent market, and he’d be a nice complement to Cole Kmet.
Sign LB Bobby Okereke
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The Bears have an obvious need at linebacker where Jack Sanborn is the only notable name on the roster. It seems like a Bobby Okereke-Matt Eberflus reunion could be on the way in Chicago. Okereke is coming off a career year with the Colts, where he totaled 151 tackles, including six for a loss, two forced fumbles and five pass breakups in 17 games. Okereke is one of the better linebackers in the NFL, and he’d be a great scheme fit for the Bears.
Sign CB Jamel Dean
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Cornerback is one of the more underrated needs for the Bears this offseason. While Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon are on the roster, they’re missing that vital third cornerback. Should Chicago choose to keep Gordon exclusively in the slot, Jamel Dean would be the perfect fit to play opposite Johnson on the boundary. Last season, Dean totaled 57 tackles, including one for a loss, two interceptions and eight pass breakups in 15 games. Dean established himself as the Bucs’ top cover corner, and he’d be a great addition for the Bears.
Sign C Ethan Pocic
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Ethan Pocic, a former second-round pick in the 2017 draft, would be an upgrade at center for the Bears. Pocic was signed by the Browns as a depth piece last offseason, but he was thrust into the starting role after Nick Harris was lost to injury. Pocic started 13 games for the Browns last season, where he had the fourth-best pass block and run block win rate at center. Now, Pocic is in for a significant pay day after bolstering his stock in a huge way in 2022.
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