2022 Bears roster breakdown: Who’s under contract and who’s a free agent?

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery finds a hole in the New York Giants defensive line during their game Sunday, Jan. 2, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Bears leadership is hard at work putting together a list of general manager and head coach candidates this week. The organization’s five-person panel will interview candidates for the top football jobs in Chicago.

Whoever they hire as general manager will inherit a roster that has Ryan Pace’s fingerprints all over it. Only punter Pat O’Donnell, a 2014 draft pick, remains from the pre-Pace era. Everybody else on the roster was acquired by Pace.

The Bears should be in the middle of the road as far as cap space in 2022. They don’t have the most available money of the league’s 32 teams, but they don’t have the least. They do have plenty of holes to fill before they have a full depth chart.

The Bears have about $166 million committed to players in 2022, according to OverTheCap.com. They have twice as much money poured into their defense as their offense ($108 million to $54 million). The Bears have about $40.2 million in cap space available in 2022, assuming the cap is set at $208.2 million, which is the current expectation.

Numerous Bears will become free agents in March. The new GM will have to decide which of these players to attempt to re-sign, and where to cut losses.

Here’s a full breakdown of where the Bears’ roster stands heading into 2022. Contract status is according to our colleagues at OverTheCap.com.

Under contract for 2022:

* – indicates a player is on a futures contract. The Bears signed 11 players to futures contracts Tuesday. More on what that means here.

Quarterbacks (3)

Justin Fields

Nick Foles

*Ryan Willis

Running backs (3)

Tarik Cohen

Khalil Herbert

David Montgomery

Wide receivers (4)

*Isaiah Coulter

Darnell Mooney

Dazz Newsome

*Nsimba Webster

Tight ends (1)

Cole Kmet

Offensive tackles (3)

Larry Borom

Teven Jenkins

*Tyrone Wheatley

Offensive guards (2)

*Dieter Eiselen

Cody Whitehair

Defensive tackles (4)

*Auzoyah Alufohai

Eddie Goldman

*LaCale London

Khyiris Tonga

Defensive ends (2)

Angelo Blackson

Mario Edwards

Outside linebackers (7)

Jeremiah Attaochu

Trevis Gipson

Sam Kamara

Khalil Mack

*Ledarius Mack

Robert Quinn

*Charles Snowden

Inside linebackers (3)

Caleb Johnson

Roquan Smith

Danny Trevathan

Cornerbacks (6)

Thomas Graham Jr.

Jaylon Johnson

*Michael Joseph

*BoPete Keyes

Duke Shelley

Kindle Vildor

Safeties (1)

Eddie Jackson

Special teams (1)

Cairo Santos

Restricted free agents (Bears have the option to match offers from other teams):

RB Ryan Nall

TE J.P. Holtz

OG Alex Bars

CB Xavier Crawford

CB Teez Tabor

Exclusive rights free agents (if the Bears offer a contract at league minimum, these players cannot negotiate with other teams):

TE Jesper Horsted

C Sam Mustipher

OT Lachavious Simmons

Unrestricted free agents:

QB Andy Dalton

RB Damien Williams

WR Damiere Byrd

WR Marquise Goodwin

WR Jakeem Grant

WR Allen Robinson

TE Jimmy Graham

TE Jesse James

OT Germain Ifedi

OT Jason Peters

OT Elijah Wilkinson

OG James Daniels

DT Akiem Hicks

DT Margus Hunt

DE Bilal Nichols

OLB Bruce Irvin

OLB Cassius Marsh

ILB Joel Iyiegbuniwe

ILB Christian Jones

ILB Alec Ogletree

CB Artie Burns

S Deon Bush

S Marqui Christian

S Tashaun Gipson

S DeAndre Houston-Carson

P Pat O’Donnell

LS Patrick Scales

Some general thoughts and observations:

  • Darnell Mooney is the only regular contributor returning at receiver. Cole Kmet is the only tight end under contract, although the team can bring back restricted free agent Jesper Horsted.
  • Among the list of impending free agents, the top priorities to re-sign are likely right guard James Daniels, defensive tackle Bilal Nichols and return specialist/receiver Jakeem Grant. The Bears will need another safety to start alongside Eddie Jackson.
  • The Bears have used void years in contracts in recent years in order to circumvent the salary cap. For instance, quarterback Andy Dalton signed a one-year, $10 million contract in March, but the team has split that $10 million over the 2021 and 2022 seasons by using a void year in 2022. So a portion of Dalton’s salary will count toward the 2022 salary cap total, but Dalton is free to sign with a new team in March. Other players with void years in 2022 are safety Tashaun Gipson, tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Damien Williams.
  • The Bears still are paying former left tackle Charles Leno, who they cut last year, in 2022. The team is on the hook for $2.8 million of Leno’s salary in 2022. The Washington Football Team recently extended Leno with a three-year, $37.5 million contract.
  • The Bears have five draft picks in 2022: their own selections in rounds two, three, five and six, plus a fifth-round pick they acquired from Houston in exchange for receiver Anthony Miller. With the top of the draft order now set after the regular season, the Bears know their top draft pick will be 39th overall.
Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.