The Chicago Bears started the season near or at the bottom of most preseason power rankings. There were moments of optimism during the season, but after a 3-14 campaign, it’s no surprise that he ultimately ended up with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The good news is that the NFL is an even league, and teams can go from worst team to first team in an instant. Look at the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions. Last season he had the No. 1 pick and he had the No. 2 pick, and this season both have made incredible progress, each making it to the NFL playoffs and barely losing. What should the Bears’ offseason plans be in terms of the draft, the Bears’ free agency goals and more for Chicago to make a similar leap in 2023?
Trade No. 1 pick in 2023 NFL Draft
The Bears’ first major fix during the 2023 offseason is easy to diagnose but hard to fix. The team simply needs more talent.
Getting first place overall could be the solution to this problem.
Judges are still out on Justin Fields, but Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Will Levis look like the unmissable prospects that will force the Bears to draft a third Top 11 QB within six years. I can’t see it. As such, the Bears’ offseason plans should include a tradeback from the No. 1 pick.
NFL teams are desperate for QBs, so the Bears have interesting QBs in Fields and need to get as much out of teams that don’t. General manager Ryan Pauls traded 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 4th he might even be able to go down.
This would give the Poles an extra second and third round pick and a better chance of stocking their roster with talent. His NFL playoffs next season aren’t out of the question if the team gets some picks.
Get Justin Fields Weapons
The Bears’ offseason requires a two-pronged approach. The team has been placed in the driver’s seat of the draft and is in an equally strong position in free agency, with Chicago currently having the largest salary his cap space in the NFL.
The Bears currently have $98,638,266 in cap space, according to Spotrac. The second place team is the Atlanta Falcons, with $56,399,608 in prize money. With that kind of war chest, the Bears’ free agent target could be anyone the front office wants.
Teams can also splurge on luxury items while continuing to build their draft.
To grow Justin Fields, the team needs to give him more weapons. There are no high-end WRs on the market this offseason, but if there are any complaints (Stephon Diggs? Mike Evans?), the Bears can afford to trade them in and give them a big extension.
Available on the Bears’ free agent radar is the superstar running back. David Montgomery is fine, but he’s not Saqwon Barkley or Josh Jacobs.
Would it be wise to give Saquon Barkley $16 million a year over the next two to three years, making him one of the highest paybacks in the league? Probably not for most teams. However, if any team can afford to make (generally) financially unsound decisions over the next two years, it’s the Bears.
Going all-in on a potential All-Pro player like Barkley is the type of Bears offseason risk the franchise can afford to take now that cap figures are so low.
Build Your Next Great Bears Defense
OK, enough about quarterbacks and offense. This is the Chicago Bears we’re talking about. The monsters of Midway weren’t Jim McMahon and Walter Payton. They were Mike Singletary, Richard Dent and Dan Hampton.
The Bears are dead last in scoring defense in 2022, which is embarrassing on so many levels. With Roquan Smith’s ejection, the D was stripped down to the stud. In other words, there is no choice but to go up.
There are several components on that side of the ball. Rookies Jaquan Brisker, Jack Sandborn and Kyler Gordon all look like starters, and veteran Eddie Jackson is an excellent player.
The Bears’ free agent targets should also include the ball’s defense. The cornerback market is relatively deep and an interesting defensive lineman is also available.
But what the team really needs is Draft Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at the top of the draft. Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. plays the sexier edge rusher position, but Carter is the closest thing to Aaron Donald since Pit DT came along in 2014. NFL playoffs.