Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky just one of many questions this offseason
2019 was a tough season for the Chicago Bears as the NFC North champions fell from 12-4 to 8-8. A late rally was not enough to rescue a tough start to the year, and they will miss the playoffs once again. Going into this season, the Chicago Bears arguably had one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Much like a few teams in the league this season the Bears defense brought them through a lot of games while the offense struggled to muster any kind of consistency. However, the defense was unable to produce on the same level as 2018, as they dropped from a distant first in DVOA down to eighth. That relatively slight drop off from the defense highlighted the issues with their offense, which ranked 25th in the league by DVOA for the second year in a row.
General Manager: Ryan PAce
Head Coach: Matt Nagy
Despite a fairly tumultuous season it appears that Matt Nagy’s job is safe heading into 2020. During the post-season press conference from Halas Hall on Tuesday, GM Ryan Pace opened by stating he has “extreme confidence in head coach and leader of our team… Matt Nagy.” A lot of this probably comes down to his 20-13 record and two winning seasons since taking over as the Bears head coach. I think the most important thing to note is Nagy and Pace have no doubts that this season has seen a regression in their abilities and was ultimately marked by inconsistency. r
Cap Space: $14.5 million
When the season concluded, the Chicago Bears were not in a comfortable position in regard to cap space heading into the offseason. However, the retirement of veteran guard Kyle Long should free up a further $9.6 million in cap space. Some of that space was also taken up by the Eddie Jackson contract, which takes his 2019 salary cap hit from around $1m to close to $4m.
One domino that could open up further space is Akiem Hicks who $11.8m but has released a tweet in the last couple of weeks suggesting his release might be coming in the next month of so. His release would open up a further $8.8m in cap space. Two other defensive players who could be on the way out of the door if the Bears want to free up cap space are Leonard Floyd ($13.2m) and Prince Amukamara ($8m). Those three releases on defense would leave a massive hole to fill, but would free up nearly $30m in cap space for a combined dead money hit of just $4m.
Another player that could have an impact on the Bears cap space is Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson has seen himself playing for 3 different teams in as many years and is a coveted player because of his versatility as a wide receiver, running back and on special teams. This year finished with Patterson being selected for the Pro-Bowl and named an All-Pro Kick Returner. However, the Bears could free up $5m in cap space, which may prove more important than retaining their gadget kick returner.
Impending Free Agents
The Chicago Bears have a number of tough decisions to make in the offseason with around 22 players coming up for free-agency this year. Here are a few of the most notable.
Danny Trevathan is an interesting one, having been on IR since week 10 after a horrific elbow injury sustained in their game against the Detroit Lions. A lot of the decision-making process surrounding Trevathan is going to hinge on how well he heals from that injury. Trevathan is arguable still one of the best OLB’s in the league when healthy. Taking his age (29 years) into account, I would think he is worth at least 2 more years. Having spent 4 years with the team, he is a strong leader and a defensive play caller that would be worth keeping on side as younger players continue to grow.
HaHa Clinton-Dix, who came to Chicago on a one-year $3.3 million contract, is ready to test the open market this offseason. Dix had a rocky 2018 having been offloaded by the Packers in an unexpected trade to the Redskins. However, he has very much re-established himself as a desirable safety, finishing this season with 78 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries. Dix has expressed a desire to remain in Chicago alongside fellow safety Eddie Jackson but given Jackson’s recent $58.4 million extension there may be some difficulty in making this happen financially.
Chase Daniels saw the field on a few occasions this season in place of Mitch Trubisky whilst he dealt with injury. He averaged 213 yards,1.5 TDs and a 70.3% passer rating during those games. This should be enough to see Daniels remain as a safe option as back-up QB, if not with the Bears, then elsewhere.
This is a hard team to find major needs for outside of the QB position. 2020 could be the last chance for Mitch Trubisky to prove himself in the Windy City. A lot of critics are placing the blame for such a rocky performance in 2019 on the not so stable shoulders of their young QB. Given that their current back up Chase Daniels is heading in to free agency there is a need for them to pick up a viable starter should things not click at the start of the 2020 season.
Perhaps the Bears make a play for a veteran play caller like Andy Dalton who is likely seeing the end of his career in Cincinnati. It certainly worked for the Titans with Tannehill. Alternatively, with Jake Fromm having just declared for the draft there are plenty options now with QBs slipping to the second round of the draft. Either option could be the push Trubisky needs going forward.
Mark became a fan of the NFL in 2011 After spending a year in Orlando and living near to the UCF stadium. You can find him on Twitter @sideline_from where he is always up to chat about the NFL and his favourite team (thanks to his Wife) the New England Patriots.
Image credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports