Cleat Geeks

On The Clock: Chicago Bears 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the Chicago Bears.

Team: Chicago Bears
2015 Record: 6-10
Draft Pick: #11

 

Season Summary

chicago-bears-quarterback-jay-cutlerThe Chicago Bears managed to salvage a 6-10 season, even after a litany of injuries decimated much of their roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Jay Cutler surprised many with his efficient play this season, managing to perform well even in the absence of players such as Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, and Kevin White. Coming back with a fully healthy roster, they will look to improve for the 2016 season.

Re-Signings & Cuts

Out all of the Bears players slated to hit free agency this off-season, wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey is by far the best. With the two sides unable to reach a long-term deal before the March 1st deadline, the Bears decided to franchise tag him, thus guaranteeing at least one more year in Chicago. This also buys them more time to work out a long-term extension.AlshonJeffery

Matt Forte has been rock solid during his career in Chicago, and some would argue that he has been the NFL’s most consistent running back over the past eight years. Unfortunately, it looks like him and the Bears will part ways this offseason. On the bright side, rookie running back Jeremy Langford shined when Forte was out, and could be the Bears back of the future.

There is no denying the talent of tight end Martellus Bennett, but after expressing frustrations with the team last season, he could be shown the door. Cutting him saves over $5 million in cap space, and if they re-sign Zach Miller, they already have a solid replacement.

Free Agency Needs

Depending on their moves over the next week, the Chicago Bears will enter free agency with about $50 million in cap space and some pretty glaring needs to fill.

Perhaps the most urgent of those needs is cornerback, where they lack a serviceable starter to line up opposite Kyle Fuller. Sean Smith is probably the best free agent cornerback in this class, but Prince Amukamara, Janoris Jenkins, and Casey Hayward are all good players too.

The Bears desperately need to fortify the middle of their defense – particularly the tackle and middle linebacker positions. Nick Fairley and Haloti Ngata are two players that would make sense for the Bears; they won’t demand outrageously high contracts, but can still defend the run at a high level. Inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan are some names to keep an eye on as well.

On the offensive side of the ball, protecting Jay Cutler is priority number one. After cutting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, they will need to find a replacement in free agency or through the draft. Kelechi Osemele has the versatility to play either tackle or guard, and Mitchell Schwartz is worth talking to as well.

Potential Draft Picksdarron-lee-michigan-spread-arms-2014-9b32748537b4b507

When looking at the Bears draft position, two names really jump out at me. Linebacker Darron Lee and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. Darron Lee would bring a much-needed athletic presence to the Bears linebacking core; he is able to play sideline to sideline and cover guys down the field. Rankins would help anchor what was one of the worst defensive lines in the league. If they don’t pick one of those guys, my money is on an offensive tackle such as Jake Conklin or Ronnie Stanley.

Second-round picks that would be good fits include linebacker Su’a Cravens, offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, and defensive tackles Vernon Butler and Andrew Billings.

Have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about the article? Just leave your comments below!

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  1. Pingback: On The Clock: Full 20-Team Directory – Cleat Geeks

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