2023 Bears Offseason Snapshot: Cap Space, Team Needs, Draft Picks, More
The NFL’s “legal tampering” period opens TODAY. Signings can begin becoming official on Wednesday. This will move quickly and I’m so ready for it. The most cap space in the league. And the most needs, too.
This is where the fun begins.
Salary Cap Update
The Bears are $75,245,261 under the cap, according to OverTheCap.com. That represents the most space among NFL teams. It is the healthiest the cap situation has been in quite some time. And while I don’t want Poles to throw everything into this offseason (there is value in staggering your free agent spending over multiple years), the Bears’ GM has to meet certain spending thresholds:
Before the D.J. Moore trade, the Bears had to spend about $147 million to be in compliance with the league’s spending floor. The Moore trade helps a bit, but there is still work to be done.
Draft Pick Update
Once the More 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 2023 NFL Draft:
- Round 1, Pick 9 (via Panthers)
- Round 2, Pick 53 (via Ravens)
- Round 2, Pick 61 (via Panthers by way of 49ers)
- Round 3, Pick 64
- Round 4, Pick 103
- Round 4, Pick 133 (via Eagles)
- Round 5, Pick 137
- Round 5, Pick 148 (via Patriots by way of Ravens)
- Round 7, Pick 218
- Round 7, Pick 258
The 10 picks the Bears have as of this moment has them in a better place than they were at this time last year. I’d even go on to add that this is truly a testament to Ryan Poles’ excellence. Poles turned the first overall pick in this year’s draft into a top 10 pick and a second-rounder in this year’s draft. He turned free-agent-to-be linebacker Roquan Smith into a pair of picks in this draft. And he also flipped 2021 sack artist Robert Quinn into a fourth-round pick. A masterclass in asset management. Now, let’s do something positive with those picks.
LB Matthew Adams, DL Angelo Blackson, CB Breon Borders, DB Dane Cruikshank, OL Dakota Dozier, TE Ryan Griffin, WR N’Keal Harry, DB DeAndre Houston-Carson, RB David Montgomery, LB Nicholas Morrow, C Sam Mustipher, DL Mike Pennel, QB Nathan Peterman, WR Dante Pettis, WR Byron Pringle, OL Riley Reiff, OL Michael Schofield, LB Joe Thomas, DL Armon Watts, TE Trevon Wesco, LB Javin White
For the second straight year, I find myself fighting the urge to write EVERYTHING! and leave this section to move on to the next. Instead, I’ll present it in the following way.
This is what the Bears’ starting lineup looks like right now based on who I feel confident in going into this year:
QB – Justin Fields
RB – Khalil Herbert
FB – Khari Blasingame
WR – D.J. Moore
WR – Darnell Mooney
TE – Cole Kmet
LT – Braxton Jones
LG – Cody Whitehair
C – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
RG – Teven Jenkins
RT – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DE – Trevis Gipson
DT – Justin Jones
DT – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DE – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
LB – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
LB – Jack Sanborn
CB – Jaylon Johnson
CB – Kyler Gordon
CB – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
FS – Eddie Jackson
SS – Jaquan Brisker
That sure is a lot of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ usage, but it is fitting. The Bears have a bunch of open spots that need filling. Moreover, they don’t have too many players who you feel all too confident penciling into the lineup. Heck, there are some players I wish gave me more reason to feel good about their potential future contributions.
To be clear, Chicago won’t fill all of its offseason holes in free agency. And they definitely won’t be able to plug ’em all this off-season. But this appears to be the time to do some heavy lifting.
Predicting the Offseason Approach
The consensus heading into this offseason is that the Bears would use free agency to prioritize bolstering the offensive and defensive lines. There has also been buzz surrounding this team flexing its cap muscle to address needs at linebacker. This free agency period *SHOULD* look different than what it did last year. Not only do the Bears have money to spend, but they should also have the green light to be aggressive to do so. Extensions will help the team reach its spending goals. But extensions can do only so much.
Ideally, the Bears will jump on free-agent options at defensive tackle, along the interior offensive line, and at off-the-ball linebacker. If the team wants to get creative, it can target secondary needs. You can never have too many cornerbacks who can cover. So long as Justin Jefferson is in this division, I’m always going to want these Bears to find defensive backs who can put up a fight. What about a Robbie Gould reunion? Kidding, kidding — I can’t see that happening.
In the end, I’m just happy to have reached this moment in the offseason. Gutting it out last year wasn’t easy. But the reward is just around the corner. Business is about to pick up.