Bears Offseason Reset: Roster Taking Shape

The Bears used the first waves of free agency to make some aggressive moves.

Chris Emma
March 24, 2020 - 12:59 pm
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(670 The Score) The goal in NFL free agency is for teams to fill the voids on their roster, plugging starting spots and addressing depth. 

The Bears did that in the first few waves of free agency over the past week. Most of the vacancies atop their depth chart have been filled, and the Bears appear to be a better team.

The marquee additions were veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn and quarterback Nick Foles. Quinn agreed to a five-year, $70-million deal with $30 million guaranteed, while Foles was acquired by trade from the Jaguars to compete for the Bears' starting quarterback job.

With those two additions and a number of others, the Bears have replenished their roster. So where do they stand? And what more must they do?

Let's break it down.

Quarterback

In acquiring Foles, the Bears achieved their goal of adding a veteran to compete with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who struggled in 2019 and who currently has one season left on his contract. 

Foles is an eight-year veteran who was the MVP of Super Bowl LII in February 2018, when he led the Eagles past the Patriots. He's the type of competitor who puts Trubisky on notice. There will be a battle between Foles and Trubisky to be the Bears' starter entering the regular season.

There's still one more spot for the Bears to fill at quarterback, and they could do so in the NFL Draft in April. 

Running back

When Bears coach Matt Nagy fired offensive line coach Harry Hiestand two days after the regular season ended, it was clear where his frustration resided with the team's stalled running game.

The Bears' lone move to address the running game this offseason was replacing Hiestand with veteran assistant Juan Castillo. David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall are set to return as Chicago's running backs next season. Any other addition would be competing for a spot near the bottom of the depth chart.

Receiver

After releasing receiver Taylor Gabriel in February to clear $4.5 million in cap space, the Bears didn't immediately seek a low-cost replacement. That's because they didn't feel it was necessary. The Bears' hope is that Riley Ridley or Javon Wims can fill that void of Gabriel.

The Bears' biggest storyline at receiver will be whether they can reach a long-term extension with Allen Robinson, whose three-year contract is set to expire after the 2020 season.

Tight end

When Jimmy Graham's signing in Chicago becomes official with a physical, the Bears will have 10 tight ends on their roster. 

There will be competition and players cut at the position. And while there's a long way to go until those decisions are made, it seems likely that 2017 second-round pick Adam Shaheen will be released -- perhaps soon in a cap-clearing move.

Offensive line

With the latter wave of free agency upon us, the Bears still have a major void at right guard. It's possible they're confident in Alex Bars filling that role alongside four established starters, but they could also still make a signing to address the question.

The greatest change on the offensive line came on the coaching staff with the firing of Hiestand and arrival of Castillo. 

Defensive line

Nick Williams turned his breakout 2019 season with the Bears into a two-year, $10-million contract with the Lions. The Bears expected he would be coveted on the open market, so they weren't surprised when he left.

The Bears addressed their defensive line depth by tendering a contract to restricted free agent Roy Robertson-Harris and re-signing veteran Brent Urban. Those two rejoin Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols and Abdullah Anderson.

Outside linebacker

After watching Khalil Mack get double-teamed often last season and the Bears fail to produce consistent high-level pressure, it was clear to general manager Ryan Pace that his defense needed another dynamic edge rusher.

He comes in the form of Quinn, who had 11.5 sacks and created pressure on 14 percent of his rushes for the Cowboys last season. The Bears believe Quinn's presence can elevate every member of their defense, which is why they made the big investment.

The Bears also signed Barkevious Mingo and re-signed Isaiah Irving to address their outside linebacker depth.

Inside linebacker

Money made a difference in how the Bears addressed their either-or decision at inside linebacker. While they appreciated what Nick Kwiatkoski accomplished in his four years in Chicago, there was more appeal for the Bears in bringing back Danny Trevathan on a carefully structured three-year deal that included three voided years tacked on beyond that to create more salary cap flexibility for the team.

While Trevathan's deal on the surface is a three-year, $21.75-million contract, he will make only $3 million in base salary in 2020 and 2021, then $2.5 million in 2022. It's a team-friendly contract to keep a key piece of the defense at inside linebacker.

Cornerback

They Bears released Prince Amukamara to clear $9 million in salary cap, opening up a starting spot opposite of cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Prior to that, they had signed Canadian Football League standout Tre Roberson. Over the weekend, the Bears also agreed to a deal with 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns, who fell on the Steelers' depth chart in recent seasons. The Bears seem set on a competition between those two the returning Kevin Toliver for their second starting cornerback spot. 

Safety

The Bears ensured Eddie Jackson would remain a cornerstone piece of their defense by giving him a four-year extension worth up to $58.4 million to open their offseason. Then they sought to find the right complement at the strong safety position next to Jackson.

Deon Bush and Jordan Lucas each agreed to deals with the Bears, and Kentrell Brice signed with the team in January. It's possible Chicago could also seek a safety in a deep draft class.

Special teams

The Bears are currently in line to return their same field goal battery in kicker Eddy Pineiro, punter/holder Pat O'Donnell and long snapper Patrick Scales. But the question looms whether the Bears will seek a veteran kicking competitor for Pineiro. Stephen Gostkowski and Greg Zuerlein are both available in free agency.

Beyond that, the Bears also secured some key special team contributors in Mingo and Lucas.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.