2019 Offseason Outlook: The Bears D-Line Ain’t Nothin’ to Mess With

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2019 Offseason Outlook: The Bears D-Line Ain’t Nothin’ to Mess With

Chicago Bears

The Bears’ 2018 season was equal parts successful and fun, though it’s finally time to move on. But before we get right to 2019, let’s take a position-by-position look at the roster – as presently constructed – to find out what’s in store for the offseason and upcoming year. 

Previously: Quarterbacks, Edge defenders/pass rushers, Running backs, Defensive backs, Special teams, Wide receivers, Offensive line

Today: Defensive line

WHO’S UNDER CONTRACT?

The Bears’ defensive line features a Pro Bowl defensive end in Akiem Hicks, a top-tier nose tackle in Eddie Goldman, and a standout rookie in Bilal Nichols. All three ranked among the 32 best interior defenders by Pro Football Focus’ grading standards and each is under contract through the 2021 season. Tack on a solid contributor from a depth perspective in Jonathan Bullard and you can see why this group was a strength last year.

If you believe the concept that steel sharpens steel can be applied to sports, then you probably aren’t surprised the Bears’ defensive line will enter 2019 as among the best in football because their counterparts on the other side of the line of scrimmage are highly thought of competitors, too.

EXITING FREE AGENTS

Roy Robertson-Harris is a restricted free agent whose return the Bears should probably prioritize. Robertson-Harris has grown since the Bears plucked him as an undrafted free agent outside linebacker in 2016 and settled into a rotational player along the defensive line. He didn’t start any games, but he played the third most snaps among Bears defensive linemen and earned a 72.1 grade, which ranked him 48th among the 112 interior defensive lineman who qualified for PFF’s leaderboard. That’s no small feat.

Nick Williams is also a free agent, but wasn’t a major part of the action last season.

WHO COULD BE CUT BEFORE THE LEAGUE NEW YEAR BEGINS?

There are no major money-saving cuts to be found in this group. Perhaps the Bears could part ways with Bullard, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. However, spotrac.com’s calculations estimate that move would save just $820,000 in cap space. I suppose that’s something, but it’s really not much of anything.

HOW CAN THE BEARS ADDRESS/UPGRADE THE POSITION?

Pace is associated with finding hidden gems on the defensive line outside the first round. Goldman was his first second-round pick as Bears GM, Hicks was a third-round choice made by the Saints, and Nichols was a fifth-round choice last year. Even Bullard (3rd round) and Robertson-Harris (UDFA) were sleeper finds, too. Defensive line depth cannot be overlooked by a team in its competitive window. And as someone who thoroughly enjoys watching the big guys go at it during training camp, I wouldn’t be opposed to Pace digging deep for another late-round find to bolster a team strength.



Author: Luis Medina

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