Facing a critical offseason for the current regime and, subsequently, the franchise’s trajectory after a four-win regression in 2019, the Bears have plenty of needs but not a plethora of resources with which to address them.
They’re projected to be in the bottom half of the league in salary-cap space, currently somewhere in the vicinity of $14.1 million, per the latest NFLPA report, not accounting for Kyle Long’s impending retirement and the $8 million in relief that comes with it.
The Bears’ first-round draft pick (No. 19 overall) for the second consecutive season belongs to the Raiders as the final key compensation in the Khalil Mack trade, leaving Ryan Pace currently with only two top-100 selections — Nos. 43 and 50, the former coming back from the Black and Silver as the Mack sweetener.
Chicago's third-rounder is in Oakland, err, Vegas, too, and fourth-rounder belongs to Bill Belichick’s Patriots as part of the David Montgomery trade compensation. However, the Bears are expected to earn their first compensatory pick in more than a decade, with comp pick guru Nick Korte from Overthecap.com projecting a fourth-rounder for Adrian Amos.
Plus, the Bears have an extra fifth-rounder (from the Raiders), likely two sixth-rounders (theirs plus the kickback in the Jordan Howard deal, which might have netted them a fifth-rounder from the Eagles had Howard not missed six games with injury before being phased out on offense) and a seventh-rounder.
The Bears surely are already hard at work on free-agent planning, and will pivot in two weeks to scout the Senior Bowl in Mobile, where, as always, plenty of eyes will be on the quarterbacks, including this year: Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts, potential first-round picks Justin Herbert and Jordan Love and Air Raid disciple Anthony Gordon of Washington State, among others.
Chicago hasn't drafted a quarterback not named Trubisky since Pace said in his introductory news conference more than five years ago that he subscribes to the Ron Wolf philosophy of picking one every year. Even with limited draft ammo, Pace's Bears unquestionably are in the market to add multiple passers this offseason with Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray out of contract.
It’s possible the Bears hold a news conference in the coming weeks to introduce their coaching additions, but our next confirmed opportunity to visit with Pace and Matt Nagy will be some time in the early part of the scouting combine, beginning in Indianapolis on Mon. Feb. 24.
The Bears extended Eddie Jackson but still must decide by early May whether to exercise the fifth-year option for 2021 on Mitch Trubisky, a price tag north of $25 million guaranteed for injury only. There's also still some contractual uncertainty regarding their previous first-round pick, OLB Leonard Floyd, who's slated to earn $13.2 million on his own fifth-year option next season. But Floyd managed a career-low three sacks in 2019, and though Ryan Pace echoed Bears coaches last week in saying they're "happy" with the former No. 9 overall pick, like in the case of Trubisky and how the team addresses its QB room, actions will speak louder than words regarding Floyd.
In lieu of him playing on the fifth-year option, it's possible the two sides could agree on an extension lowering Floyd's price tag but offering more long-term security, or the Bears could release Floyd, allowing both sides to test the market, where more proven pass rushers abound.
So with all of that bookkeeping out of the way, how should the Bears prioritize improving their roster? Beginning Monday, Bears Insider will unveil the first piece in our daily position-by-position series, assessing the strength and overall state of every unit.
Spoiler: We expect quarterback and tight end to be among Pace's top priorities in free agency, where adding a veteran signal caller and Day 1 starting "Y" tight end are absolute musts, while the draft could offer better alternatives to address offensive line, wide receiver, outside pass rush and strong safety.
As far as identifying the best free agents and draft prospects for the Bears, stay tuned. Bears Insider has tons of exciting offseason content planned for our subscribers' enjoyment well in advance of the start of free agency (March 18) and the draft (April 23). The 2019 Bears season wasn't nearly fun enough, and we're determined to help compensate.