A lot has happened in the past 24 hours, which makes it the perfect time for another installment of the Chicago Bears 2021 mock offseason. News broke that a certain All-Pro quarterback is at least thinking about switching uniforms. Enough to where he even has a list of teams he’d want to go to. To the surprise of many, the Bears were one of those teams.
Word has since emerged GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are 100% all-in on doing whatever it takes to make that happen. It’s too early to tell if it will. A lot of things would have to break their way. Still, it’s much more possible than it was the day before. So how could the team go about making such a move work?
That is what this offseason will explore.
Chicago Bears 2021 mock offseason is all about one goal
- Jimmy Graham – $7 million
- Bobby Massie – $8 million (post-June 1st)
- Buster Skrine – $4.93 million (post-June 1st)
- Javon Wims – $920,000
- Jordan Lucas – $600,000
If the Bears are going to make a splash this offseason, they need cap space. That is going to require some calculated sacrifices. Graham, Massie, and Skrine make the most sense. They’re on the older side and in the case of the latter two have health issues. Moving on from them gives the team some flexibility. As for Wims and Lucas? Neither of them is imperative to Chicago’s ultimate vision. So their exits can provide some extra wiggle room.
Salary cap: $18.86 million
1st rounder (2021), 1st rounder (2022), 1st rounder (2023), QB Nick Foles, and CB Jaylon Johnson to Seahawks for QB Russell Wilson, and 4th rounder (2021)
Facts are facts. A player like Wilson is going to be expensive. Yes, he’s 32-years old but quarterbacks these days tend to last a lot longer than decades past. He’s never missed a game in his career and should have at least five peak seasons left. That should open the Super Bowl window considerably for Chicago and it’s worth the price tag it would take to make happen.
This is a seven-time Pro Bowler who will probably be in the Hall of Fame after he retires. He should instantly elevate the entire offense around him. In order to avoid giving up any picks beyond the 1st round, they throw in young, emerging corner Johnson. Foles will be added for cap relief and giving Seattle a veteran they can control for cheap.
WR Allen Robinson to Jaguars for 2nd round pick (2021)
This is going to stun a lot of people. Understandably so. One would think the first thing a Bears 2021 mock offseason would do is secure Robinson in the event they land a quarterback of Wilson’s caliber. The problem is the receiver seems intent on becoming one of the highest-paid at his position. Chicago can’t afford to keep him on the tag without an extension. So they send him to the cap-rich Jaguars for a needed draft pick.
Salary cap: -$8.236 million
- Khalil Mack – Contract restructure ($12.93 million gained)
- Eddie Jackson – Contract restructure ($6.78 million gained)
- Eddie Goldman – Contract restructure ($3.23 million gained)
- Russell Wilson – Contract restructure ($6 million gained)
- Kyle Fuller – 2-year extension (2021 cap hit dropped to $10 million)
- K Cairo Santos – 3-year extension for $12 million ($2 million 2021 cap hit)
- WR Cordarrelle Patterson – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
- S Tashaun Gipson – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
- DE Mario Edwards Jr. – 1-year deal for $990,000
- DE Brent Urban – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
- OT Germaine Ifedi – 1-year deal for $990,000
- S DeAndre Houston-Carson – 1-year deal for $990,000
- P Pat O’Donnell – 1-year deal for $1.075 million
- LS Patrick Scales – 1-year deal for $990,000
- OG Alex Bars – ERFA tender for $850,000
- TE J.P. Holtz – ERFA tender for $850,000
- RB Ryan Nall – ERFA tender for $850,000
- OLB James Vaughters – ERFA tender for $780,000
A lot of restructuring is going on here, kicking cap hits down the road. Why? This Bears 2021 mock offseason is making it pretty clear. They’re going after a championship right now. That means keeping the defense intact as much as possible while working to preserve other playmakers like Patterson. Ifedi returns for a chance to protect old friend Wilson while the team also manages to lock down Santos as their kicker for the next few years. A lot of key depth pieces for special teams also remain.
Salary cap: $17.114 million
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – 4-year deal for $68 million ($1 million 2021 cap hit)
Smith-Schuster isn’t on the same level as Robinson but he’s not too far away. He’s a quality pass-catcher with strong hands, sharp route-running skills, and underrated speed. His price tag is along the lines of what the Bears were hoping to keep Robinson at. Him being a couple of years younger and willing to backload the deal to preserve cap space makes it an easy sell. One can imagine getting to play with Wilson helps matters along.
WR T.Y. Hilton – 1-year deal for $3 million
Rest assured that the allure of Wilson will have a similar impact in Chicago to what Tom Brady did in Tampa Bay. Players will want to play with him. While staying in Indianapolis seems like a possibility for Hilton, instead he opts to join the Bears on a cheap deal. He’s made his money and would prefer to join a quarterback who fits his style of play. Namely the deep threat. Just imagine him and Darnell Mooney and the field together.
CB Shaquil Griffin – 3-year deal for $28.5 million ($4 million 2021 cap hit)
The loss of Johnson hurts the defense, but Wilson again comes to the rescue. His Seahawks teammate Griffin is a free agent this year and entering his prime. He’s also coming off his best all-around season yet with three interceptions. Pairing him with Fuller gives the Bears a capable cornerback tandem for the time being. They can worry about the long-term at a later date. This should keep the defense strong.
Salary cap: $9.114 million
2nd round (via JAX) – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
If Pace is smart, then this draft must be used to fortify the roster around Wilson however possible. Especially the offensive line. Carman made a living in college protecting good quarterbacks at Clemson. He’s athletic enough with good technique and power. He also brings a nasty disposition. Something that front needs more of. He can slot in at right tackle immediately and stay there for 10 years without any concerns.
Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson has caught my eye. First thing I notice is how big he is (6’5”, 345). He’s a nasty blocker and an excellent athlete for his size. Carman has a high ceiling and should be in early discussion for OT2.
Definitely has Day 1 potential. pic.twitter.com/GOdL0De5eo
— Seth Mitzel (@SkolMitzel) August 10, 2020
2nd round – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
While Cole Kmet should continue to improve as their “Y” tight end, the loss of Graham opens a void at the “U” spot. Somebody who can be moved around to create mismatches in the passing game. Jordan is exactly that type of tight end. Very similar to Trey Burton. Not overly tall (6’3) but a big body, athletic, and fast for his size. He boasts a strong pair of hands and loves to attack the football in the air.
3rd round – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
With all due respect to Sam Mustipher, it’s a little too early to declare him the center of the future in Chicago. He did a good job getting that center spot settled down last season but he still has limitations physically. Dickerson is a powerful human being with above-average awareness. Defenses aren’t going to trick him and he’s that guy who can win fights in the trenches with consistency. If not for health issues dogging him at Alabama, he’d be a top 50 pick. Good competition for Mustipher.
4th round (via SEA) – Olaija Griffin, CB, USC
Griffin is the sort of player the Bears tend to covet on defense. Good enough size mixed with athleticism and an aggressive, physical temperament. He always looks to play the football and loves to line up in press, going toe to toe with any receiver he faces. The big issue with him is can he stay healthy? He’s dealt with a number of injuries in his college career.
Great work here by USC’s junior cornerback Olaijah Griffin. Another corner working square. Feet before hands. Flatten off the route. Good rep. Would’ve been great if 21 would’ve held onto the rock. Challenge yourself.
Oh.. What’s up with corners wearing these no show socks? Ew. pic.twitter.com/gXwvxqlxih
— Crocky (@eric_crocker) November 14, 2020
5th round – Bobby Brown III, DL, Texas A&M
Size? Power? Quickness? Brown has all of those traits. He can hold his ground against double teams to stop the run or deliver a strong interior pass rush to fluster the quarterback. The guy has significant upside. One primary concern is how his play tends to run hot and cold. The Bears will have to get his motor revved up consistently.
6th round – Tarron Jackson, EDGE, Coastal Carolina
Stacking edge rushers is never a bad idea. The Bears drafted Trevis Gipson last year but his progress remains unknown. So they decide to continue adding young, cheap bodies with upside. Jackson is the kind of guy that is easy to like. Not the biggest guy in the world at just under 6’3 but lives in the opposing backfield thanks to his motor, technique, and burst.
BYU QB Zach Wilson is the main attraction, but #CoastalCarolina DL Tarron Jackson (8.5 sacks, 38 pressures) is also a legit NFL prospect in tomorrow’s match-up
Jackson (LDE, #9) shows a knack for knifing through gaps with his quickness and physical hands. pic.twitter.com/3ugz7VgDNw
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 4, 2020
6th round (comp) – Paddy Fisher, ILB, Northwestern
The inside linebacker depth took a hit for Chicago last season and they really weren’t able to address it. This time around they secure some competition on the back end. Fisher gets knocked for his limited athleticism and range. He makes up for that with size, intelligence, and instincts. He finds the football, is rarely out of position and is a natural leader.
6th round (comp) – Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee
Playing against lesser competition makes the evaluation of players like Blankenship difficult. That said he has a good mix of size and athleticism for the pro game. His instinct and command of the back end both stand out. He’ll be fine in deep coverage but can also drop down into the box as a run defender or an extra blitzer.
7th round (via MIA) – Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
With both Foles and Tyler Bray out of the picture, the Bears would be wise to invest in their backup quarterback spot at some point. Book was a productive player for the Irish. A great leader with the athleticism and improvisational skills to make a lot of plays. His size and arm strength are both average but he finds a way to get things done when needed.
It might not be a perfect Bears 2021 mock offseason, but there have been worse.