Bears 2023 free agency profile: RB Saquon Barkley

NFL free agency will be here before we know it, and the Chicago Bears have plenty of work to do. Luckily, general manager Ryan Poles has $100 million to work with to bring in some impact players as he looks to retool the roster.

Here at Bears Wire, we’re highlighting some potential free agent targets and breaking down their 2022 performance and whether or not they’re a fit in Chicago.

Next up is running back Saquon Barkley, who’s coming off off a bounce back year where he eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the third time in his career and showcased his playmaking ability on the Giants offense. If he hits free agency, would the Bears be a potential destination?

2022 stats

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  • 295 carries, 1,312 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns

  • 57 catches, 338 yards

2022 review

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Barkley wasn’t quite himself during the 2021 season, after suffering a torn ACL against the Bears in Week 2 of the 2020 season. But with a full healthy season under him, Barkley reminded everyone why he was the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Barkley finished fourth in the NFL with 1,312 yards (averaging 4.4 yards per carry) where his playmaking ability was on full display. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the third time in his career, and the only times he didn’t were in 2020 (torn ACL) and 2021 (recovering from torn ACL). Barkley’s impressive 2022 campaign earned him his second Pro Bowl nod and he was a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year.

With the Giants expected to use the franchise tag on quarterback Daniel Jones, Barkley isn’t a guarantee to return in 2023. While Barkley said he’s not  looking to reset the running back market in regards to a new contract — and he said he wants to return to New York — there will be teams willing to pay Barkley handsomely, which just might help sway him. And the Bears might be one of them.

Position need: Moderate

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David Montgomery is set to hit free agency, which leaves Chicago without their top running back. Former sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert excelled in Luke Getsy’s outside zone scheme, where he led all qualifying NFL running backs in yards per attempt (5.7) and showed his playmaking ability once he hits the open field. But do the Bears feel like Herbert can handle the workload? Still, with Trestan Ebner the only other running back left on the roster, running back is a position that needs to be addressed, be it in free agency (where they could bring back Montgomery or add another veteran) or the NFL draft.

Fit with Bears

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Outside of Justin Fields, the Bears lack any true explosive players on offense. Which is why the argument could be made that Chicago should move on from Montgomery and target Barkley. Assuming Montgomery exits in free agency, you have to look at what the offense loses with him — a threat out of the backfield and pass protection. Those are things that Barkley excels at, on top of being a dynamic runner of the football.

The Bears already had the NFL’s best run game last season, thanks to Fields’ impressive 1,143 yard campaign. Now, imagine a backfield featuring Fields and Barkley. It’s hard not to get excited at the thought. But considering Chicago has needs across the roster, would running back be a focal point in free agency? Maybe, maybe not. But if the Bears really want Barkley, they have the resources to land him.

2023 free agency profiles

We’re highlighting some potential Bears targets in free agency this month:

LT Orlando Brown Jr.

DT Javon Hargrave

RB Saquon Barkley

DE Marcus Davenport

DT Dre’Mont Jones

RT Mike McGlinchey

CB Jamel Dean

OG Ben Powers

DE Yannick Ngakoue

LB Tremaine Edmunds

 

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire