Ryan Pace is naturally aggressive as a GM. That has proven true for years. He traded up in the draft for Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky, and David Montgomery. He sent a blockbuster package to the Raiders for Khalil Mack. Then he gave up a 4th round pick and $21 million guaranteed for Nick Foles. This man fears nothing. So try to imagine what he’ll do for this Chicago Bears offseason when it’s crystal clear he’s on the hot seat.
When a man like that is in survival mode, it’s best to expect the unexpected. With quarterback a top priority and a lack of resources, it seems likely the Bears may go about gathering as much as possible. Even if that means taking serious risks with their roster. A source informed me that Pace is serious about changes this offseason. There is a real chance several noteworthy names could be cut or traded in the coming months. More than people care to admit.
Here’s the list provided:
- Akiem Hicks
- Kyle Fuller
- Jimmy Graham
- Bobby Massie
- Charles Leno
- Buster Skrine
- Nick Foles
- Anthony Miller
Some of those aren’t big surprises. Graham is on the older side and paid too much to be considered essential to their offense. The same goes for Skrine on defense. The bigger surprises are Hicks, Fuller, Leno, and Foles. Hicks and Fuller remain quality contributors on the Bears defense. Why would Pace so willingly dump them?
Money is a simple answer. Cutting or more likely trading both would net a combined $21.5 million in cap space. Leno would net another $9 million with a post-June 1st designation. Foles? That one is difficult to figure out. The only way to get him off the books without a cap penalty is via trade. It seems the Bears would have to go with a basketball-style move, coupling him with a late round pick to get somebody to take him.
Doing so with a post-June 1st designation nets the Bears another $4 million.
Ryan Pace will likely sell out to get a quarterback
This information paints a pretty clear picture. If the Bears are going to make a play for a noteworthy quarterback, they’ll need money. Right now? They don’t have it. Current projections put the team either slightly over or slightly under the salary cap. Doing all of those moves listed above would get them over $50 million in space this offseason. Maybe more depending on where the NFL puts the 2021 cap.
That would give them enough space to make a big push to grab a high-profile veteran. Nobody would be off the table. Deshaun Watson? Dak Prescott? Matt Ryan? Matthew Stafford? Derek Carr? All would be viable options for them. Not easy to get but certainly possible. Scoring one of them would be a huge boost for the Bears. The big challenge of course is whether Ryan Pace can replace all of those losses. A Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end and cornerback, two starting offensive tackles, a starting nickel corner, a tight end, and a backup quarterback.
The hope no doubt is the new QB can cover up some of those issues.
One thing is for sure. Pace knows mild tinkering with the roster this past year wasn’t enough. The team still finished 8-8. If he’s going to get better results next season, he’ll have to take some risks. Purging a large chunk of their veteran payroll would qualify. It remains to be seen if he will indeed go that far.