The latest Chicago Bears 2021 mock offseason is about facing potential realities. Two in particular. One where they may not be able to secure the ideal veteran quarterback they wish. The other on the possibility they could also lose their best offensive weapon. If these scenarios came to pass (and there is a real chance they could), how would GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy navigate the rough waters to still field a competitive roster?

That is what will be explored here. It will take some imagination and a little bit of faith. Then again that’s nothing new for Bears fans. If nothing else, it will also see an encouraging shift in philosophy. One a lot of people have called for going back years. Just be prepared for the roster to look a lot different this time around.

Chicago Bears 2021 mock offseason is about calculated risks

Cuts:

  • Bobby Massie – $8 million (post-June 1st)
  • Jimmy Graham – $7 million
  • Buster Skrine – $4.93 million (post-June 1st)
  • Javon Wims – $920,000
  • Jordan Lucas – $600,000
  • Teez Tabor – $850,000

The Bears know some difficult cuts are coming. Graham didn’t do anything to justify being released after nine touchdowns last season. They just need the space and he’s a luxury. Massie and Skrine have struggled to stay healthy and are getting older. Wims wore out his welcome. Lucas opted out and isn’t a necessity. Nor is Tabor. Every penny they can grab counts.

Salary cap: $16.152 million

Trades:

WR Allen Robinson (tag) and 3rd in 2021 to Jets for QB Sam Darnold, WR Jamison Crowder, and a 5th in 2022

This isn’t going to be a popular decision for a lot of fans. Robinson is a really good player and arguably a top 5 receiver. The problem is the Bears just can’t meet his price. So rather than dragging things out, they decide to find a mutually beneficial solution. They franchise tag him here and package him in a trade to the Jets. New York has plenty of money to give him the extension he’s looking for.

In return, Chicago not only gets a young, talented quarterback in Darnold but also his favorite weapon. Crowder isn’t Robinson but he’s been a consistently productive player for a number of years now, averaging 693 yards per season. Paired with Darnell Mooney, this should give the Bears something to work with as the offseason unfolds.

QB Nick Foles and a 7th round pick to Colts

Chicago has to find creative ways to open up cap space.  Foles is a solid backup option at quarterback but he’s just too expensive for their current payroll. The Indianapolis Colts have a ton of connections to him including head coach Frank Reich. Not to mention a wealth of cap space. Packaging a draft pick with him should be enough to get them to take him off the Bears’ hands.

WR Anthony Miller to Patriots for 6th round pick

The arrival of Crowder doesn’t spell good news for Miller. After such a promising first two years, the former 2nd round pick floundered in 2020. His inconsistencies have never really gone away. Coaches have begun running out of patience with him. Rather than play things out any further, they cut bait by sending him to the receiver-needy Patriots for a late rounder.

Salary cap: $193,000

Re-signings/Extensions:

  • Eddie Jackson – Contract restructure ($6.045 million gained)
  • Eddie Goldman – Contract restructure ($2.573 million gained)
  • Kyle Fuller – 2-year contract extension (2021 cap hit lowered to $10 million)
  • Akiem Hicks – 2-year contract extension (2021 cap hit lowered to $6 million)
  • Jamison Crowder – 2-year contract extension (2021 cap hit lowered to $6 million
  • Cairo Santos – 3-year deal for $12.9 million ($3 million 2021 cap hit)
  • Pat O’Donnell – 2-year deal for $3.5 million
  • Mario Edwards Jr. – 1-year deal for $990,000
  • Tashaun Gipson – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
  • Brent Urban – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
  • John Jenkins – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
  • Barkevious Mingo – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson – 1-year deal for $990,000
  • Alex Bars – ERFA tender for $850,000
  • Josh Woods – ERFA tender for $850,000
  • James Vaughters – ERFA tender for $780,000
  • J.P. Holtz – ERFA tender for $850,000

This is a 100% buy-in for 2021 for the Bears. They hand Fuller and Hicks, two aging players who are still pretty good contract extensions to ease their cap hits. Jackson and Goldman see their deals restructured. After that, it’s pretty much an assortment of cheaper short-term deals to maintain as much depth as possible. The only exception is Santos who gets a well-earned payday after an outstanding 2020 season.

Salary cap: $16.228 million

Free agency:

OG Trai Turner – 1-year deal for $7 million

There is a strong belief that the Chargers will end up cutting Turner due to his bloated contract. He did struggle in 2020 but the guy is still just 27-years old. He’s also a five-time Pro Bowler. So there are good reasons to think he can bounce back in 2021. With the market likely to flood with cap casualties like himself, the odds of him earning a big-money deal are remote.

This allows the Bears to grab him on a decent one-year rental contract with the idea he can cash in during the 2022 offseason presuming he plays well. A mutually beneficial relationship. The trick part will be how the Bears decide to juggle the interior line. Turner will man the right guard spot. That means it will be up to the coaches to determine who starts at left guard and center between James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, and Sam Mustipher.

Salary cap: $9.228 million

The Draft:

Trade: Bears give 20th pick to Jaguars for 25th pick, a 4th in 2021, and 5th in 2022

1st round (via JAX) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Losing Allen Robinson deals a blow to the size proportions of the receiving corps. That is why this Bears 2021 mock offseason needs to replace it somehow. Bateman isn’t as big as A-Rob but he’s a well-built 6’1 guy who can play bigger than he is. His speed is solid if not high-end and he couples it with good acceleration and quickness. He understands the concepts of route running and uses them to gain separation on a consistent basis. On top of that, he has the body control and strong hands to make the tough catches seem routine.

Trade: Bears give 52nd pick and 6th in 2021 (via NE) to Browns for 59th pick and 3rd in 2021

2nd round – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

Carman gets picked on by some evaluators because he’s not a premier athlete for his position. This makes it easy to overlook how good the guy is. He overcomes his deficiencies with intelligence, strong technique, and outstanding power. The guy is a bulldozer in the running game and embraces the role of being a mauler. He’s spent his entire college career protecting star quarterbacks and doesn’t give an inch in pass protection when his fundamentals are sharp. This guy will be a bookend right tackle for a long time.

3rd round – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Bloodlines are always a thing in professional sports and the NFL is no different. If the father was pretty good at football. Chances are his son will be too. Asante Samuel was a four-time Pro Bowler and now his boy is ready to make his own way. The kid is pretty damn good too. He had three interceptions in just eight games last season. While on the shorter side at 5’10, he shows the quickness and physicality needed to hang with pro receivers.

4th round – Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma

Charles Leno survives for another season but his time is coming too. The Bears should at least start finding him some potential replacements. Ealy is the perfect development option. In terms of size, length, and adequate athleticism? He has all the tools. When he’s square against pass rushers, they aren’t beating him. It’s just a fact. The problem is his techniques are a hot mess. The kid needs work. This is where Juan Castillo gets paid the big bucks.

5th round – Tedarrell Slaton, DL, Florida

The Bears were burned last season when Eddie Goldman chose to opt-out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were never able to adequately replace him. Even with him likely to return, it would be smart for Chicago to insert some promising young depth behind him. Slaton is an interesting prospect. Simply massive in terms of size, he has the girth and power to handle double teams and enough quicks to squeeze the pocket up the middle as an interior pass rusher.

6th round – Davis Mills, QB, Stanford

When looking at the numbers, there really isn’t much to get excited about with Mills. In 13 starts dating back to 2019, he has 18 touchdown passes to eight interceptions. When watching the tape though? There are flashes of a better quarterback in there. He’s got a 6’4 frame, okay mobility, and a strong enough arm to make almost any throw. Not to mention a knack for late-game heroics. He will need work on his field processor and diagnosing coverages.

6th round (comp) – Tony Poljan, TE, Virginia

A former quarterback, Poljan has the rare ability to understand defensive coverages and how they will play him. This gives him a significant advantage as a tight end. Something he exploited quite often for Virginia despite his obvious inexperience. His mixture of size and athleticism is exciting and he has the look of somebody who should be a better pro than a college player.

6th round (comp) – Chris Rumph II, EDGE, Duke

The son of newly-hired defensive line coach Chris Rumph. This Bears mock offseason ends with a little bit of nepotism involved. Not that it’s a bad thing. Rumph II can play. He has 14.5 sacks and 25 tackles for a loss in the past two seasons. So why does he go so late? Size. The kid is a great athlete but just 6’3 and 235 lbs. That is light for a 3-4 outside linebackers. Especially one his height. He’ll be somebody the Bears need to use creatively.