It's Never Too Early To Think About 2018! Looking At Next Year's Bears Depth Chart

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It’s Never Too Early To Think About 2018! Looking At Next Year’s Bears Depth Chart

Chicago Bears

Why “wait ’til next year” when you can make a guesstimation about tomorrow … today?

In a recent podcast, JJ Stankevitz and John Mullin put together a color-coded depth chart in an attempt to figure out which members of the 2017 Chicago Bears should return for 2018. And in a piece over at NBC Sports Chicago, Stankevitz takes a cursory look at what the Bears’ 2018 depth chart will look like.

We’ll have all offseason to dissect this roster, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving this a read for some perspective on what the Bears’ biggest needs might be when the offseason officially kicks off.

For now, let’s take a brief look at each position group and discuss its immediate needs.

QUARTERBACK

The Bears don’t need a quarterback *stares longingly at Mitch Trubisky* but the quarterbacks room needs to be re-shaped.

Mike Glennon’s biggest contributions have come by calling winners at the coin toss. It’s hard to imagine bringing him back for that sole purpose. Besides, the team could find a better use of the $11.5 million they could save cutting him before June 1.

After watching Dak Prescott step back in 2017, Mark Sanchez could be sought after by teams who see his value as a mentor. It would take some pretty convincing words to sway me from believing part of Prescott’s regression isn’t tied to having Tony Romo pushing him as a backup and Sanchez serving as a de facto quarterbacks coach. Sanchez hasn’t been active all year, but has worked behind the scenes with Trubisky since training camp.

RUNNING BACK

Jordan Howard is on pace for a second straight 1,000-yard season and Tarik Cohen is carving out a role as a pass-catching back with return specialist skills. If Howard doesn’t improve on his abilities as a receiver and Cohen doesn’t earn the trust of being a third-down/two-minute drill back, the Bears could see running back as a position worth upgrading.

WIDE RECEIVER

Trusting Kevin White to play a significant number of snaps coming off a third straight year in which he suffered a season-ending injury would be unthinkable. And even if Cameron Meredith is healthy, he still has just one season under his belt as a proven target. Does Dontrelle Inman return? What about Kendall Wright in the slot? Was signing Markus Wheaton just a figment of our imagination?

We’ve discussed the idea of improving this group via the draft (Calvin Ridley? Courtland Sutton?) and free agency (Davante Adams?). The Bears should just throw up a HELP WANTED sign in front of Halas Hall.

TIGHT END

How Adam Shaheen closes out the regular season might give us an idea about how the Bears should attack this position group in the offseason. Or it could mean nothing because a different coaching staff might view Shaheen’s role differently. This room has the potential to look different behind Shaheen next year considering a healthy chunk of Dion Sims’ money was guaranteed up front.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Right tackle Bobby Massie signed a three-year deal worth $18 million that included $6.5 million guaranteed. He has a cap number of $6.1 million for 2018 and the Bears could save about $5.6 million (via Over The Cap) if he is cut before June 1. Further, the Bears could look to upgrade this position via the draft – especially if Connor Williams is given a clean bill of health.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The defensive line is a position of strength when Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, and Mitch Unrein are healthy. We’ll see if it’s a position of depth when players like Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, and undrafted rookie free agent Rashaad Coward step in over the final four weeks.

LINEBACKERS

This group is among the thinnest for the Bears after injuries to Floyd and Willie Young put and end to their seasons. It would be nice to add an edge defender opposite of Leonard Floyd who can rush the passer. Injuries held back Pernell McPhee once again. He still has two years left on his five-year deal signed back in 2015. He might not be long for the 2018 Bears.

Depth at inside linebacker isn’t a problem with Nick Kwiatkoski, Christian Jones, and even John Timu playing respectably in starting roles while replacing Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. It’s hard to imagine the Bears trusting Freeman for the third year of his contract after two PED suspensions in as many years.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The Bears seem set at safety with Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos. It’s possible a healthy finish to the year for Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall could provide some insight into how deep the position is. Based on how Jackson and Amos have played as a tandem, Quintin Demps’ role on this team is best served as a backup.

Cornerback is the major concern for this group. Marcus Cooper is under contract for next year, but has been a non-factor on defense and is best known for a gaffe that cost the Bears a touchdown on a field goal block. Over The Cap suggests the Bears could save $4.5 million if the team parted ways with Cooper. To be honest, that money might be better spent on going toward retaining Prince Amukamara and/or Kyle Fuller.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter Pat O’Donnell is a free agent and has played well enough to merit a second contract in Chicago. But since O’Donnell was a Phil Emery draft pick, we can’t be too sure how tied current GM Ryan Pace is to this punter. Cairo Santos could have been a long-term solution for the Bears’ place-kicking problem, but another injury put him on injured reserve.

The Bears made an eyebrow-raising move by placing Santos on IR and not waiving/releasing him. From where I’m seated, that’s the kind of move a team wanting an extended look at a player whose time was all-too-brief in Chicago. Who’s up for another round of kicker roulette?



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.