NFL insider predicts Bears sign elite edge-rusher, former No. 2 pick

NFL insider predicts Bears sign elite edge-rusher, former No. 2 pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

One of the Bears' most significant needs this offseason is another elite edge rusher to pair opposite Montez Sweat, who the Bears acquired and signed ahead of the NFL trade deadline.

Could the Bears solve that need with Sweat's former teammate? One ESPN insider, Jeremy Fowler, believes the Bears may sign Chase Young this offseason.

"Washington traded its star defensive line bookends at the 2023 trade deadline, with Sweat then thriving as the Chicago Bears' lead rusher and Young now competing for a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers," Fowler wrote.

"Chicago, in its efforts to bolster its pass rush, evaluated both Young and Sweat in the months leading up to the deadline. Sweat landed a four-year, $98 million extension with the Bears, who could spend more money in free agency to sign a pass-rusher such as Young."

Indeed, the Bears evaluated both Sweat and Young, who were both made available for trade near the NFL trade deadline. Poles opted for Sweat, trading a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft to acquire him, then inking him to a four-year contract.

The 49ers acquired Young with a compensatory third-round pick, bringing him on for the rest of the season. Now, he's helping them through the playoffs, as they prepare for the NFC championship against the Detroit Lions.

After the season, however, Young becomes an unrestricted free agent. If you scratched your head at the low, low price the 49ers paid to acquire Young, that's why. Young appears to be a rental for the 49ers, as they haven't inked him to a long-term deal.

But with the ninth-most cap space in the NFL this offseason, Poles could reunite the two former teammates.

Young, 24, was the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL draft out of Ohio State. During his rookie outing, Young recorded 7.5 sacks in 15 games, earning the NFL's Rookie of the Year honors. However, his game fell off after that season.

He played 12 games between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, dealing with a significant knee injury. He recorded a paltry 1.5 sacks and 31 tackles during that time frame. But during the 2023 season, he made up some ground with both the Commanders and 49ers.

Between both teams, Young finished the season playing 16 games. He notched 7.5 sacks, 25 tackles and 15 quarterback hits. He rejuvenated his career this season, proving his worth and reminding teams he's only 24 years old.

That being said, his desired contract will surely be a hot topic for rival teams. He'll obviously hope to earn a pay raise from his rookie contract. Spotrac projects his market value at ~$13.6 million annually. But it's unclear how NFL teams see his value, considering his injury history.

Are the Bears willing to pony up and acquire Young?

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.