Matt Eberflus on the Bears Offseason: “We’re Not Done”
Even after drawing up more than $121 million worth of new contracts to free agents, there is still more to come from the Chicago Bears.
At least, so says Head Coach Matt Eberflus, who hinted more was on the way when talking to reporters at Eddie Jackson’s Ed Block Courage award acceptance ceremony on Tuesday:
Ooh! What a tease. That is the type of thing someone says when it sounds like one or two more big moves could be coming.
Eberflus could be hinting at all sorts of action that is on the horizon. Free agent additions? There could still be some coming down the pipeline. C’mon, now. It’s not as if all the best players of note were signing on Day 1. Trades? The NFL is transitioning into a wheel-and-deal type of league, so I won’t rule that out. And with the new league year opening in less than 24 hours, we could see the logjam clear once deals can become officially official.
So … what could the Bears have in mind?
First, an updated look at what a projected starting lineup would look like for this team (players in bold are new guys):
QB – Justin Fields
RB – Khalil Herbert
FB – Khari Blasingame
WR – D.J. Moore
WR – Darnell Mooney
TE – Cole Kmet
LT – Braxton Jones
LG – Nate Davis (or is it Teven Jenkins?)
C – Cody Whitehair
RG – Teven Jenkins (or is it Nate Davis?)
RT – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (could the Bears move Jenkins here?)
DE – Trevis Gipson
DT – Justin Jones
DT – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DE – DeMarcus Walker
LB – T.J. Edwards
LB – Tremaine Edmunds
CB – Jaylon Johnson
CB – Kyler Gordon
CB – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
FS – Eddie Jackson
SS – Jaquan Brisker
Clearly, the Bears still have work to do. And while the NFL Draft is in 44 days, the Bears could cross some things off their shopping list well before that April 27 date rolls around.
Adding Nate Davis helps in the trenches, but it also brings up more questions. For instance, you’d think that Davis would plop in at left guard. That would make sense seeing that Teven Jenkins was holding it down at the right guard spot last season. However, Davis hasn’t played left guard at the NFL level and has been the Titans primary starter at right guard. Does this mean Jenkins will slide to the left? If that is the case, then does it move Cody Whitehair to center? Or is it feasible to move Jenkins to right tackle to keep Davis at the position he is most familiar with?
As I was saying, this throws so much for a loop. And going after a high-profile offensive line upgrade such as Orlando Brown Jr. or Laremy Tunsil would further complicate matters. Then again, I believe the best plan of attack is to let the general manager add talent now and let the coaches figure out who fits where later.
Signing DeMarcus Walker is a good start to creating competitive depth along the defensive line. Unfortunately, he isn’t the type of 3-technique defensive tackle who we’d expect to anchor the defense. But that is OK. Walker’s versatility to play outside at defensive end and inside as a tackle is valuable and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
FWIW: There are still viable defensive tackles who can sign with the Bears and would have us thinking that their additions would represent steps in the right direction. Mind you, they wouldn’t necessarily provide the same impact as a Daron Payne or Javon Hargrave. And I’m not sure any of these options have the same potential Dre’Mont Jones or Zach Allen have. But Sheldon Rankins (Jets), Matt Ioannidis (Panthers), and A’Shawn Robinson could make sense as Bears targets.
Or we could do the fun, flashy thing:
Again, if the Colts are trading veteran pieces for picks then I’d kick the tires on DeForest Buckner.
Off the edge, Samson Ebukam came up as possibly being on the Bears’ radar. This Bears staff has ties to Yannick Ngakoue, who has picked up at least 8 sacks in each of his seven years as a pro. Those two names make sense to me as players who would represent real upgrades to the defensive line.
OK, so cornerback doesn’t look like a huge need. And I’m not sure the Bears would target a high-profile corner knowing that a potential big contract there could influence Jaylon Johnson’s future asking price in an extension. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as having too many cornerbacks. Particularly not in the NFC North where your defense needs to slow down Justin Jefferson and Amon-Ra St. Brown twice a year.
Rock Ya-Sin was with Eberflus and the Colts before spending last season with the Raiders. He is someone who can play outside and slide Kyler Gordon into the slot corner role. It wouldn’t be the splashiest signing, but it is one that could help the Bears improve in two spots in one fell swoop.
In the End
Eberflus gave us a little tease and I’m excited to see where it can go. Save for the Edmunds signing, GM Ryan Poles’ acquisitions have been relatively reasonable. The Edmunds deal was a bank-breaker. Otherwise, I see the Davis, Edwards, and Walker expenditures as being modest contracts. But with about $45 million in available cap space available, there is still wiggle room for a splash.