The Chicago Bears know this 2020 offseason has a ton riding on it. One cannot underestimate how big of a disappointment 2019 was. Sure, 8-8 isn’t a terrible record in the ultra-competitive NFL but everybody knows this team is talented enough to go after a Super Bowl. Instead they looked woefully overmatched far too often last year. It’s led to serious speculation that GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy could lose their jobs if they don’t get this team to rebound next season.
They’ll need a plan for this offseason. One they’re in lockstep on because it’s going to take a lot of work to stay with the Packers and Vikings who remain constant headaches every year. There is still a long way to go before everything comes to light about what the Bears will do. That said, even now the outline of their plan is coming into focus. Suffice to say, it’s one that is both logical but also incredibly risky.
Here is a breakdown of what it will probably look like in three simple keys.
Chicago Bears plan feels like a major gamble
#1 – Mitch Trubisky will stay the starting QB
Lots of fans are holding out hope that Pace sees reason and goes out to get a quarterback who can replace Trubisky. However, that idea is not feasible. For one, they have neither a 1st round pick nor a lot of salary cap space ($20 million currently). So getting one of the top names expected to be available is unrealistic, be it the draft or free agency. If they do add anybody of note, it will be at a bargain price. This already leans the narrative towards Pace’s original statement.
Trubisky will be the starter next season.
Then there is the matter of the coaching staff. The Bears made a ton of changes to the offensive side in the past couple of weeks. Mark Helfrich, Kevin Gilbride, and Harry Hiestand were all fired. In their places came Bill Lazor, Clancy Barone, and Juan Castillo. On top of that, they promoted Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator and added John DeFilippo as the new quarterbacks coach.
This put two additional respected QB specialists on the staff. Something a team probably wouldn’t do unless they were dead set on doing everything possible to help one on their roster. It might not be the decision some fans want to hear, but it’s one that is driven not just by personal preferences of those in charge but also available resources.
#2 – Most resources will be focused on fixing the offense
So what do the Bears have? Well, there’s the $20 million in cap space as stated earlier and a projected eight picks in the coming draft including two 2nd rounders, a possible 4th round compensatory pick, a 5th rounder, two 6th rounders, and two 7th rounders. Pace will likely get an additional $8.1 million for the cap when guard Kyle Long officially steps away this offseason. There are other ways to create more space as well with players like Prince Amukamara ($8 million) and Taylor Gabriel ($4.5 million) worth discussing.
With 22 pending free agents and a robust unrestricted market coming, the Bears will need every cent they can get. Where will it all go? That much is pretty obvious. It will be the offense. One that finished 2019 ranked a dismal 29th in the league. Every position group appears in need of help, but especially the tight ends and the offensive line. Most rumors have had scouts and coaches focusing on that side of the ball.
It’s clear that if they can replace Trubisky this year, then they’re planning to do almost anything possible to improve the situation around him, both on the roster and the coaching staff.
#3 – Defensive moves will be in the secondary
Now a lot of people might get upset the Bears won’t pay much attention to the defense. For one, that should be expected since the unit finished 5th in the league this season. It’s basically set as far as its core. Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Goldman will all return. One area though that could see a makeover is the secondary. Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller remain in place. Beyond them, it gets trickier.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, along with every reserve safety will be free agents in March. Amukamara is a possible cap casualty as explained earlier, leaving the cornerback position in serious question with Kevin Toliver and Duke Shelley as the only notable names behind him. It would not be a surprise if the Bears reserved some of that money or one of their higher draft choices for a defensive back.
What about pass rusher, we hear you cry? Well, Leonard Floyd is still under contract. The Bears brass has sworn by him at every opportunity. Sure the team might look to add better depth. However, the idea of finding competition for Floyd feels unlikely. If this team makes any sort of significant move in free agency or the draft on defense, it will be in the secondary.