Bears should hibernate now, because they can be contenders in 2023
Right now, the Chicago Bears might not look like much.
At 3-9, they have one of the worst records in the NFL, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better at any point this season.
That’s why it’s time for them to turn their attention to 2023, when they could quickly bounce back and make a worst-to-first run in the NFC North.
They’ve already traded away two of their best defenders in linebacker Roquan Smith and pass rusher Robert Quinn, and they just lost wide receiver Darnell Mooney and safety Eddie Jackson for the rest of the season due to injury.
Justin Fields, their budding franchise quarterback, is dealing with a shoulder injury, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be back to full strength before the season’s over.
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It’s time for the Bears to shut down Fields for the rest of the year, and focus on what they can build around him next year.
For starters, Chicago is projected to have a whopping $116 million in salary cap space this offseason, almost twice as much as the next team on the list (via Spotrac). If the season ended today, they’d also own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
The Bears will be loaded with the resources they need to address the biggest holes on their roster. The offensive line needs a ton of help, Field needs another blue-chip playmaker in the passing game (yes, even after trading for Chase Claypool), and they’re desperate for an influx of talent in the defensive trenches.
If the Bears end up picking as high as No. 2 overall next year, they could spend that selection on an elite defender like Alabama’s Will Anderson or Georgia’s Jalen Carter, or command a king’s ransom from a quarterback-needy team trying to move up the board for a top passer.
While his first offseason proved that Ryan Poles doesn’t appear to be the kind of general manager who will just throw a bunch of money at the top free agents on the market, he should still be able to address most (if not all) of those needs with veteran additions who could quickly turn their fortunes around on both sides of the ball.
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There’s plenty of young talent on the roster to keep developing, too. Mooney, Claypool and Cole Kmet are still trending upward, and even if David Montgomery isn’t re-signed, Khalil Herbert has been a revelation in the backfield. Jack Sanborn appears to be a gem at linebacker, and the secondary is in good hands with young playmakers like Jaquan Brisker.
Most importantly, the Bears know they have a potential superstar at quarterback in Fields, with two more years (and a fifth-year option) left on his rookie contract.
It’s been a rough year for Bears fans, but the immediate future is bright. The rest of this season should be about preparing for the next one.
There’s every reason to believe that this team can go from being one of the league’s worst, to contending for a division title and making a playoff run in 2023 and beyond.
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