The Chicago Bears’ 2021 season is one we don’t mind leaving in the rear-view mirror.
With that being said, we’re looking ahead to 2022 and beyond. The Ryan Poles Era is underway. And with a new-look front office and a fresh set of eyes at head coach, a clean slate is at everyone’s fingertips. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a position-by-position look at the team heading into the offseason for a franchise that should be excited about changes on the horizon under its new leadership.
Offseason need: Low
WHO’S UNDER CONTRACT?
(Player ages are in parenthesis)
Justin Fields (22) through 2024, Nick Foles (33) through 2022
The Bears have two seasons to evaluate Fields before they have to make a decision on the Fifth-Year Option of his rookie deal. Even still … Fields’ deal has cap numbers of $4.289M, $5.146M, and $6.004M over the next three years. And in none of those years is Fields’ cap number surpass 2.3 percent. Ahhh, the joys of QBs on rookie-scale deals.
EXITING FREE AGENTS
Andy Dalton (34)
Ryan Pace really felt it was necessary to spread Dalton’s cap hit on a one-year deal in 2021 over into the 2022 *AND* 2023 seasons. ¡Ay caramba!
WHO COULD BE CUT BEFORE THE LEAGUE NEW YEAR BEGINS?
Cutting Foles would come with $3 million in cap savings, but would tack on more than $7.6 million in dead cap money. And while creating an additional $3 million in room under the cap would be nice, the new front office should probably consider the state of the quarterbacks room before making that call.
In other words, there is nothing wrong with running it back if Fields is comfortable with Foles and the two have a good working rapport. Parting ways with Foles now doesn’t do much to move the needle in terms of generating additional space under the salary cap. There is an argument to be made for not rocking the boat.
Cap numbers via OverTheCap.com
POSSIBLE FREE AGENT FITS
⇒ Tim Boyle (27)
⇒ Jacoby Brissett (29)
⇒ Colt McCoy (35)
⇒ Geno Smith (31)
⇒ Tyrod Taylor (32)
Unless the team cuts Foles, it is tough to imagine the Bears dabbling into the free agent quarterback market. But if they do, the Bears could opt for any number of different backup styles. Jacoby Brissett has starting experience and a past with new head coach Matt Eberflus after crossing paths in Indianapolis. Tim Boyle and new offensive play-caller Luke Getsy know each other from their time in Green Bay.
PFF’s TOP-5 DRAFT-ELIGIBLE PROSPECTS
⇒ Sam Howell, North Carolina
⇒ Malik Willis, Liberty
⇒ Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
⇒ Matt Corral, Ole Miss
⇒ Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Let’s not waste too much time in this section. The new guys came through talking about building around Fields, ad that figures to be the plan for 2022. If Fields proves that he might not be The Guy with his play in 2022, then we’ll re-visit this section with some real depth and gusto. But we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.
HOW CAN THE BEARS ADDRESS/UPGRADE THE POSITION?
Hiring a new offensive coordinator and instituting a scheme that is legitimately quarterback friendly feels like a good start. Moving forward, the best thing the Bears could do to bolster quarterback play in 2022 would be to add weapons to the offense. Bring on some established pass-catchers for Fields to throw to this coming season. Target speedsters who get separation, big-body go-up-and-get-it guys, vertical threats who take the top off defenses, and grinders willing to move the chains over the middle. Add some blocking, too. It is hard to make those throws while simultaneously running for your life.