Managing Director Ryan Poles has been busy over the past few days. Khalil Mack has been traded. Both Tarik Cohen and Eddie Goldman were cut. Not only did he get another 2nd-round pick for the upcoming 2022 draft, but he also got $14 million in new cap space. The Chicago Bears went from $23 million to $37 million. This should make it pretty clear that the Poles plan to be active in free agency in a few days.
The question is how aggressive he intends to be. Poles said he would be “selective” on the veteran market from the start. This suggests he won’t hand out huge contracts. However, if he wants to fill this list, he will have to spend money. He may be able to sign some players to short-term deals that can help the Bears be competitive now while maintaining 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’s put together an extensive list of free agency predictions for every team along with these. In this case, three players they are likely to sign and why. His picks for the Bears are sure to raise eyebrows, both for good reasons and for questionable reasons.
Chark WR DJ
OT Duane Brown
OG Trai Turner
They need to prioritize Justin Fields. This means focusing on pass protection and pass catching options. Chark was limited to just four games last year due to an ankle injury, but he has a rare mix of size and speed, is 26 and has been productive in 2019 and 2020. Brown is not not a long-term option, but he can fill in at left tackle for a season.
Everything indicates that the Poles are using their resources to build around Justin Fields this year. This is a good thing. If the Bears are to have long-term success, it will depend on their young quarterback. For that, he needs weapons and protection. The more difficult question is whether these options are worth it. Chark was one of the most underrated receivers in the league in 2019 and 2020 when he posted over 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns. But last year he broke his ankle. Health will therefore be a concern for him.
Duane Brown is 36 years old. Check out how fast he flips his hips to seal that DB trying to jump inside. pic.twitter.com/j230kjZkMH
— Josh Cohen (@JCohen_NFL) November 3, 2021
Game and stunt management via 2022 FA RG Trai Turner pic.twitter.com/yHwH898m79
—Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) February 14, 2022
The Chicago Bears’ offensive line picks are even more interesting
If it was five years ago, Brown and Turner would be gigantic acquisitions. Brown has played in five Pro Bowls in his career, including last season for the Seattle Seahawks. The problem is, he turns 37 in August and allowed eight sacks last season. It’s hard to say how much he has left in the tank. Then there is Trai Turner. Like Brown, he is a former five-time Pro Bowl player. Without doubt one of the three or four best goalkeepers in the league.
That changed in 2020 when his long history of injuries caught up with him. He missed seven games and allowed 19 pressings. It was one of the worst performances of his career. Then last season for the Steelers, he allowed eight sacks. It’s hard not to feel like his best days are behind him. That’s why Ryan Poles signing them wouldn’t make much sense. He doesn’t seem like the type of great GM who relies on his past accomplishments.
Both could play well, but it would depend on how much money they are looking for.
Not to mention the duration of transactions. It may come down to the Poles’ faith in new offensive line coach Chris Morgan to keep these 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 is young enough to regain his peak form. His speed would become a welcome asset to the host corps if he was healthy.
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