The Chicago Bears edge rusher position is the only one that sticks out as a serious problem now. Everything else they’ve done this 2018 off-season has bolstered the rest of the roster. Wide receiver is stacked with talent. The offensive line is reinforced. Inside linebacker has not one but two intriguing, young athletes joining the fray. Cornerback even got an intriguing infusion of bodies via undrafted free agency.
All the while edge rusher lingers on as an area of serious concern. Leonard Floyd is still in place but he’s coming off a knee injury. His likely fellow starter is Aaron Lynch, a cheap free agent addition with connections to Vic Fangio who has 2.5 sacks the past two years. Behind them, it gets even worse. Sam Acho is over 30. Kyle Fitts is a sixth round pick with an extensive injury history.
They’re caught in a dangerous situation. Not only is their front line talent questionable, but so is their depth. It feels like a near certainty they must and will make another move there before the season begins properly in a few months. The question is who can they go after this late in the game? Here are five possibilities they might consider.
Possible Chicago Bears edge rusher solutions
Sign Lamarr Houston
This seems like the simplest and most obvious one. Lamarr Houston was re-signed by Chicago late last season after a brief stint in Houston. In the final five games of the year, he collected four sacks. It’s apparent he likes playing in Fangio’s defense. The fact he remains unsigned means the Bears could probably get him back cheap. Thus far he’s met with Oakland and the Jets but hasn’t inked a deal yet.
— NFL News Daily (@NFL_NDaily) April 23, 2018
Sign Connor Barwin
The veteran turns 32-years old this October but Barwin continues to show that he can bring something to the table. He hasn’t had fewer than five sacks in a season dating back to 2013. He’s also experienced playing in a 3-4 system, where he tends to fit best. That dependability also comes from a run of good health. He’s missed only two games in the past seven years. A one-year deal for him would ease the problem.
Trade for Shane Ray
This, as always will come down to how aggressive GM Ryan Pace is feeling. He’s shown he doesn’t fear to make bold trades to upgrade his roster. To this point, he’s never acquired a notable player from another team. One must also remember he already gave up a second round pick for Anthony Miller last month. Still, with the arrival of Bradley Chubb, the Broncos’ transition to a 4-3 defense is more apparent than ever. Many feel that Shane Ray is a poor fit moving forward and could be available at the right price.
Trade for Shaquil Barrett
Ray isn’t the only pass rusher in Denver who now sees out of place. Shaquil Barrett has lingered on as a primary reserve for years despite showing frequent glimpses that he can do more. When he started six games in 2015 back when they ran an actual 3-4, he had 5.5 sacks. He’s too short to play 4-3 defensive end and with his contract winding down, the Broncos have to make a decision on what to do with him.
Pass-rush needy teams should call #Broncos about Shaq Barrett after Chubb pick. 26yo edge rusher has been very disruptive when he's gotten chances.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 30, 2018
Trade for Malik Jackson
Now, this is definitely the boldest one on the list. Why would the Jacksonville Jaguars be willing to part with Malik Jackson after he just posted eight sacks in 2017 along with a Pro Bowl? The answer is simple. Money. Current projections show the Jaguars will be over $17 million in the red next year.
They may have to make a sacrifice to find breathing room. Having drafted Taven Bryan in the first round, it’s clear Jackson may end up being the odd man out. He’d bring a cap relief of $9.5 million if dealt. He has experience playing in a 3-4 system at defensive end, helping the Broncos win the Super Bowl in 2015. A trio of him, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman up front could be lethal.