A 2022 Chicago Bears Offseason Snapshot: Cap Space, Draft Picks Update, Team Needs, and Predicting a Path

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A 2022 Chicago Bears Offseason Snapshot: Cap Space, Draft Picks Update, Team Needs, and Predicting a Path

Chicago Bears

Happy New League Year! The signings and trades that have previously been categorized as “expected” can become officially official today. With that in mind, we’ve updated our original post from Monday to reflect the latest figures at the start of the new league year. 

NFL’s “legal tampering” period opens today. Signings can begin becoming official on Wednesday. This will move quickly in the next few days. But before we get too deep in the weeds, let’s re-assess where the Chicago Bears are now and see where they can go moving forward.

Salary Cap Update

The Bears are $29,416,633 under the cap, according to OverTheCap.com. That represents the sixth-most space among NFL teams. Being where the Bears are now is better than the alternative of being where they were at this time last year. Although, some of that money will get eaten into with these free agency signings.

Draft Pick Update

Once the Khalil Mack deal becomes officially official when the new league year opens at 3 p.m. CT on Wednesday, the Bears will have the following picks in the 2022 NFL Draft:

•   Round 2, Pick 39
•   Round 2, Pick 48 (via Chargers)
•   Round 3, Pick 71
•   Round 5, Pick 148* (via Texans)
•   Round 5, Pick 150
•   Round 6, Pick 186

This isn’t the best situation, but it looks better than it did before the Mack trade.

Free Agents

At the beginning of the offseason, the Bears had 35 (!) players eligible for some type of free agency. Since then, they have brought back three of their exclusive-rights free agents. And they’ve seen some players agree in principle to deals elsewhere. That leaves these players hitting the market:

We’ve since seen James Daniels (Steelers), Bilal Nichols (Raiders), and Jakeem Grant Sr. (Browns) sign free agent deals elsewhere. “Once a Bear, always a Bear” … right?

For a broader scope of what the free agency picture looks like elsewhere, I’d recommend browsing through run-downs from ESPN, CBS Sports, Pro Football Focus, NFL Media, and Pro Football Network.

Team Needs

You have no idea the strength it took to resist the urge to write EVERYTHING! and leave this section to move on to the next. Instead, let’s look at it a different way.

This is what the Bears’ starting lineup looks like right now based on who is under contract as of this moment:

Offense

QB – Justin Fields
RB – David Montgomery
WR – Darnell Mooney
WR – Dazz Newsome
WR – Nsimba Webster
TE – Cole Kmet
LT – Teven Jenkins
LG – Cody Whitehair
C – Sam Mustipher
RG – Lucas Patrick
RT – Larry Borom

Defense

DE – Robert Quinn
DT – Khyiris Tonga
DT – Larry Ogunjobi
DE – Trevis Gipson
LB – Roquan Smith
LB – Nicholas Morrow
CB – Jaylon Johnson
CB – Thomas Graham Jr.
CB – Duke Shelley
FS – Eddie Jackson
SS – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

UPDATE — With the pending additions of Lucas Patrick, Larry Ogunjobi, and Nicholas Morrow, we’ll see new faces in starting lineup roles. Who doesn’t love fresh faces in a lineup? But also, that pushes OL Lachavious Simmons and DL Angelo Blackson into reserve roles.

Our original analysis of the roster is as follows.

I’d venture to say the Bears could stand to upgrade in at least 10 different positions right now. They won’t be able to do it all at once.

As you can see, the Bears don’t have a ton of familiar faces returning to starting roles. For many of the players above, they’ll settle into depth roles behind new players coming in from the outside (whether it be via free agency or the NFL Draft). But for others, they will likely be fighting for a job during a camp battle. It will make for some interesting times at camp, but the snapshot above paints a picture of a franchise that needs to do a ton of heavy lifting to get out from the mess left behind by the prior regime. Seriously. But typing it, then saying it out loud, this all serves as a reminder of how much work this new regime must do to get out of the mess their predecessors made.

Predicting the Offseason Approach

Even after seeing that two of the first three offseason signings were defensive players, signs are pointing toward the Bears spending some change in free agency to upgrade the offense. Earlier in the offseason, Chicago was seen as an ideal fit for three top-50 free agents — all on offense. Two of the three have gone off the board since that post. Nevertheless, that was just the beginning. Sheil Kapadia (The Athletic) predicts three offensive-leaning free agent signings for the new front office. And we’ve seen the Bears connected to the likes of Christian Kirk (he’s gone to Jacksonville), JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Terron Armstead (depending on the Deshaun Watson situation), and others.

It is as simple as this: After years of loading up on the defense in an attempt to max out while rolling with a quarterback on a rookie scale deal, the Bears are in a position to pivot to throwing gobs of cash, resources, and assets at the offensive side of the ball. This feels long overdue, to be sure. But for what it’s worth, the logic behind it suggests it is the intelligent thing to do.

How the Bears go about doing it remains to be seen. Buckle up. Things will move quickly.



Author: Luis Medina

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