Predicting the Bears’ 2023 starting offense ahead of free agency

With free agency just around the corner, Bears general manager Ryan Poles has plenty work to do to rebuild this roster. That includes some work on offense, most notably in the trenches.

When looking at these projections on offense, it’s clear that Poles has plenty of work to do in free agency to shore up wide receiver and the offensive line. You could certainly make the argument that Chicago could have an entirely new starting five on the offensive line. But there are some pieces in place with Teven Jenkins and Braxton Jones.

Ahead of free agency, we’re doing our best to predict what the Bears offense could look like heading into the 2023 season, including some potential free-agent moves.

QB Justin Fields

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Despite speculation that the Bears will move on from Justin Fields, the plan if for Fields to be the starting quarterback. He’s coming off an impressive performance in 2022, where he rushed for 1,143 yards and emerged as one of the NFL’s most exciting players. Now, it’s about improvement in the passing game.

RB Khalil Herbert

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With David Montgomery set to hit free agency, Khalil Herbert is the next man up at running back for the Bears. Herbert thrived in Luke Getsy’s offense, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt (the most among all qualifying running backs.) While Chicago will look to add to the running back room, right now Herbert is RB1.

WR Darnell Mooney

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The Bears need a No. 1 wide receiver for Fields, but free agency doesn’t necessarily present an option for that. So, for right now, Darnell Mooney remains the team’s WR1. Mooney, who’s entering the final year of his rookie deal, is coming off a season-ending ankle injury.

WR Chase Claypool

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The Bears are expecting a lot out of Chase Claypool in his first full season in Chicago. After trading the 32nd overall pick for Claypool at the trade deadline, Claypool didn’t live up to expectations in the league’s worst passing game. Now, he’ll be a focal point as one of the team’s top wideouts.

WR Darius Slayton

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The Bears should look to add a wide receiver through free agency. And considering there aren’t any true No. 1 wideouts available, Chicago should avoid overpaying for someone like Jakobi Meyers. Darius Slayton would be a sneaky nice addition for the Bears, and he’s not expected to break the bank like Meyers.

TE Cole Kmet

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Cole Kmet is coming off a career year with the Bears, where he led the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (544) and touchdowns (7). He also proved to be the most reliable pass catcher for Fields. While Kmet certainly needs to improve as a blocker, he’s proven to be a valuable asset for Getsy’s offense.

LT Braxton Jones

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Former fifth-round pick Braxton Jones had a solid rookie season at left tackle for Chicago, but his future is one of the big question marks this offseason. As the Bears overhaul the offensive line, will they keep Jones developing at left tackle or perhaps move him to the right side? For now, he stays at left tackle.

LG Ben Powers

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Guard isn’t the most pressing need along the offensive line, but Cody Whitehair’s $14.1 million salary cap hit makes him a prime salary cap casualty candidate. It feels like Chicago could be content with moving on from Whitehair and signing arguably free agency’s best guard in Ben Powers, who would a solid replacement at left guard.

C Ethan Pocic

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Chicago needs to find Sam Mustipher’s replacement at center, and there’s a clear upgrade in Ethan Pocic set to hit the open market. The Bears could just as easily find their replacement center in the NFL draft. But, with the focus on free agency, they target a veteran option in Pocic.

RG Teven Jenkins

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Teven Jenkins might have the best job security of all current offensive linemen on the Bears’ roster right now. Jenkins thrived at right guard last season, where he’s brought a nastiness to the interior. The only concern with Jenkins is injuries. But he’s the easiest guy to predict as a starter on this offensive line right now.

RT Kaleb McGary

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The Bears are expected to be active in pursuing offensive linemen in free agency, and that should start at tackle. If Chicago feels comfortable with Jones sticking at left tackle, Kaleb McGary would be upgrade at right tackle. He’s an elite run blocker, which would fit well with what the Bears do on offense.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire