GM Ryan Poles has been busy the past few days. Khalil Mack was traded. Tarik Cohen and Eddie Goldman were both cut. Not only did he get another 2nd round pick for the upcoming 2022 draft, but he also secured $14 million in new cap space. The Chicago Bears went from $23 million to $37 million. That should make it pretty clear Poles plans to be active in free agency a few days from now.
The question is how aggressive he plans to be. Poles said he will be “selective” on the veteran market from the start. That makes one think he won’t be handing out any huge contracts. Still, if he wants to fill out this roster, he’ll have to spend some money. He can perhaps sign certain players to short-term deals that can help the Bears be competitive now but still maintain future cap flexibility.
A track record often plays a big part in such moves.
Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic has several connections around the NFL. He pieced together an extended list of free agency predictions for every team with those. In this case, three players they are likely to sign and why. His choices for the Bears are certain to raise some eyebrows—both for good and questionable reasons.
WR DJ Chark
OT Duane Brown
OG Trai Turner
They need to prioritize giving Justin Fields a chance. That means focusing on pass protection and on pass-catching options. Chark was limited to just four games last year because of an ankle injury, but he has a rare blend of size and speed, is 26 years old and was productive in 2019 and 2020. Brown is not a long-term option, but he can fill in at left tackle for a season.”
Everything points to Poles using his resources to build around Justin Fields this year. That is a good thing. If the Bears are going to have long-term success, it will come around their young quarterback. For that, he needs weapons and protection. Whether these options are worth it is the tougher question. Chark was one of the most underrated receivers in the league in 2019 and 2020 when he posted over 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last year though, he broke his ankle. So health will be a concern with him.
Duane Brown is 36 years old. Check out how quick he flips his hips to seal this DB who tries to jump inside. pic.twitter.com/j230kjZkMH
—Josh Cohen (@JCohen_NFL) November 3, 2021
Handling games & stunts via 2022 FA RG Trai Turner pic.twitter.com/yHwH898m79
—Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) February 14, 2022
Chicago Bears’ offensive line choices are even more interesting
If this were five years ago, Brown and Turner would be gigantic acquisitions. Brown has made five Pro Bowls in his career, including last season for the Seattle Seahawks. The problem is he turns 37-years old in August and allowed eight sacks last season. It is hard to tell how much he has left in the tank. Then there is Trai Turner. Like Brown, he is a five-time Pro Bowl trainer. Arguably one of the three or four best guards in the league.
That changed in 2020 when his extensive injury history caught up to him. He missed seven games and allowed 19 pressures. It was one of the worst performances of his career. Then last season for the Steelers, he allowed eight sacks. It is hard not to feel like his best days are behind him. Hence why Ryan Poles signing them wouldn’t make much sense. He doesn’t seem like the type of GM big on past accomplishments.
Both could play well, but it would depend on the money they’re seeking.
Not to mention the length of the deals. This may come down to how much Poles trusts new offensive line coach Chris Morgan to get those two playing at the highest level possible. His familiarity with Turner is a bonus. Brown is another Jason Peters at this point. As for Chark? He’s young enough to regain his peak form still. His speed would become a welcome asset to the receiving corps if he were healthy.
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