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Bears general manager Ryan Poles spent the offseason overhauling Chicago’s roster, which saw the departures of key veterans and the additions of veterans on cheap, one-year deals.
While there were key losses on the offensive line (James Daniels), running back (Damien Williams), tight end (Jimmy Graham) and safety (Tashaun Gipson), those positions didn’t suffer significantly like some others on the roster.
Here’s a look at the five positions where the Bears got noticeably worse this offseason:
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
There’s no position on this roster more scrutinized than wide receiver, where Darnell Mooney is the only returning wideout from the 53-man roster. The loss of Allen Robinson looms large, and it doesn’t help that the new additions to the roster are unproven. While Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. have the potential to carve out nice starting roles for themselves, Fields doesn’t have a lot of proven options outside of Mooney. Which isn’t exactly a recipe for success for a young quarterback.
Interior defensive line
AP Photo/David Banks
The Bears lost four defensive starters this offseason, including Khalil Mack, who was traded to the Chargers. But it’s the interior of the defensive line that suffered the most with the losses of Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols. Now, Chicago is turning to newcomer Justin Jones, second-year pro Khyiris Tonga and some solid depth pieces in Angelo Blackson and Mario Edwards. Everyone’s going to get a chance to play as Matt Eberflus implements a rotation along the defensive line to keep legs fresh. But there’s no denying the Bears got worse along the interior and didn’t do much to address it.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
The fact that Justin Fields has a year of experience under his belt and a new offensive coordinator in Luke Getsy is definitely encouraging heading into the 2022 season. But the backup quarterback situation behind Fields has gone from good to bad. Andy Dalton and Nick Foles are easily better options than Trevor Siemian and Nathan Peterman. And while the hope is the Bears won’t need to turn to Siemian (or Peterman), the reality is that you have to be prepared for that situation.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
There’s certainly more confidence off the edge than the interior. But the Bears traded star edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Chargers, which instantly downgrades the defensive end position heading into the 2022 season. Chicago is returning Robert Quinn, who’s coming off a franchise single-season record 18.5 sacks. Third-year pro Trevis Gipson showed promise in relief of an injured Mack last season, and the Bears added Al-Quadin Muhammad this offseason. But the loss of Mack looms large, especially with speculation about Quinn’s uncertain future.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears special teams will look different for the first time in three years following the departure of punter Pat O’Donnell, who signed with the rival Packers in free agency. Chicago drafted Trenton Gill in the seventh round, and right now he’s the clear favorite to start — if only because he’s the only punter on the roster after Ryan Winslow’s release. While it’ll be interesting to see what the Bears have in Gill, it’s not exactly encouraging going from a proven veteran to an inexperienced rookie.