Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Chicago Bears 2023 Mock Offseason: Justin Fields Rescue Plan

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The first Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason probably comes earlier than anybody would like. Yet at 2-4 with New England and Dallas looming, few have any remaining illusions this team is a playoff contender. Focus is shifting to the next phase of what GM Ryan Poles has planned for this roster. He’s in an excellent position to be more aggressive next year. Not only does he have all five of his top draft choices but over $100 million in salary cap space.

One question lingers. What will he do at quarterback? Though Justin Fields has struggled for most of the year, it’s evident the Bears’ offense is nowhere near talented enough to help him. Every single position group is made up of primarily average-to-below-average players. That has to change. So the team sets about making a plan that can finally bring in reinforcements while continuing to bolster the defense.

This Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason is straightforward.

Cuts:

  • Cody Whitehair – $5.8 million saved
  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette – $940,000 saved

Smith-Marsette is an obvious choice. He’s gotten opportunities to make an impression the past few weeks and squandered them. Whitehair is the tougher decision. He’s still the best run blocker the Bears have. However, he’ll be 32 years old next season and is now coming off a knee injury. His pass protection has never been overly reliable. Expect Poles to take this opportunity to cut out another bloated contract.

Salary cap: $121.77 million

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Trades:

Robert Quinn to the Rams for a 6th round pick.

There is a reasonable chance this could happen as early as the trade deadline. Quinn is clearly not showing he is motivated to stay in Chicago. That shouldn’t surprise anybody. The best thing for them to do is unload his contract and get whatever pick compensation they can for him. A 6th rounder is hardly what anybody wanted when the trade discussions began, but that is where things are now.

Cole Kmet and a 6th round pick to Texans for 5th round pick.

Poles then packages that same pick from L.A. with another Ryan Pace holdover to secure a higher pick in the draft. Kmet hasn’t lived up to his billing as the top pick of the 2020 class. He isn’t much of a threat as a receiver. As for his blocking, it’s fine but that is replaceable. The Bears need more firepower at that position. He’s never going to give it to them.

Salary cap: $133.18 million

Re-signings/Extensions:

  • Roquan Smith – 1-year franchise tag for $17.4 million
  • Jaylon Johnson – 4-year extension for $76 million
  • David Montgomery – 3-year deal for $21 million
  • Nicholas Morrow – 3-year deal for $15 million
  • Armon Watts – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • Equanimeous St. Brown – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • N’Keal Harry – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • Trevon Wesco – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • Khari Blasingame – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • Matthew Adams – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson – 1-year deal for $1.165 million
  • Josh Blackwell – ERFA deal for $750,000

It doesn’t sound like Smith is in the best head space to negotiate an extension. Maybe that changes before the season ends. Right now it doesn’t feel as if he’s playing at the level to warrant that $20 million per year he seeks. So this Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason accepts the likely decision to tag him. On the flip side, Poles is swift to ensure the team locks up Johnson long-term. He is one of the best cover corners in the NFC. While $19 million per year doesn’t reset the market, it puts him in range of the league’s best.

Montgomery isn’t going to join the top running backs in terms of that $12 million or more leap. If he wants a long-term deal, he will have to settle for a more realistic $7 million per year. The same goes for Morrow. He isn’t a star, but he is also not somebody the Bears should let walk. Everybody else signed is either depth or special teams considerations.

Free Agency:

OT Orlando Brown – 5-year deal for $105 million ($12 million 2023 cap hit)

Poles has said he wants to build through the draft. That is commendable. Yet it doesn’t change the reality. He has boatloads of cash to spend and glaring needs on the roster. So he decides to attack the offense. Brown declined an extension offer from Kansas City this off-season because he felt he deserved more. His play in 2022 seems to be justifying that decision. He is a reliable pass protector and a force in the run game.

OG Ben Powers – 5-year deal for $85 million ($10 million 2023 cap hit)

The former 4th round pick has transformed into one of the best left guards in the league this year, allowing only four pressures total on Lamar Jackson. That doesn’t even account for his ferocious impact in the running game. The Bears need a much stronger presence on the interior. Powers might not be an elite athlete, but he gets his job done every week.

TE Mike Gesicki – 4-year deal for $57.6 million ($10 million 2023 cap hit)

Chicago needs more explosiveness in the passing game at tight end. For whatever reason, the Miami Dolphins haven’t featured Gesicki this season despite him topping 700 yards each of the past two seasons. He’s 6’6 with 4.5 speed and good hands. One would think that’d be a no-brainer. Poles understands the value of such tight ends, so he brings him in to help Fields.

The Draft:

Trade: Bears send 6th pick to Lions for 15th pick, 2nd in 2023, and 1st in 2024

1st round (via DET) – Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

Having addressed the offensive line in free agency, the Bears have more flexibility going into the draft. Poles makes a trade to secure another 1st in 2024. Then he finally gets what Matt Eberflus desires most for Chicago’s defense: a high-end pass rusher to build around. Tuipulotu had ten sacks in 2021 and already has three in six games so far this year. He can terrorize quarterbacks from either end position and has the kind of size and athleticism necessary to play with power or speed

2nd round (via DET) – Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

Left tackle and left guard are situated. Now the Bears seek to bring it home with an upgrade at center. That means no more Sam Mustipher. Van Pran was a focal point of Georgia’s national championship last year. Now he’s spearheading their push for a repeat. The guy has size, power, and is an absolute technician in pass protection. His athleticism checks all the boxes, and his intelligence is evident in how rarely blitzes catch him off guard.

Trade: 2nd in 2022 to Patriots for 2nd in 2022 and 4th in 2022

Trade: 2nd in 2022 to Falcons for WR Calvin Ridley

This is quite a calculated risk by Poles. Ridley hasn’t played football since October of 2021. Still, he will only be 28 years old next season and no doubt fresh. He’ll also have a chip on his shoulder after the NFL rather unfairly suspended him for a year. His speed and route-running skills are everything Poles likes in receivers. He’d be an immediate weapon for Fields.

3rd round – Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt

Eberflus desperately need more juice on the interior of his defensive line. People will take one look at Kancey and his 6’0 frame and say he’s not cut out for the NFL. Then intelligent people will see the 11.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss in 28 games for Pitt and recognize he is far better than his size tells you. He’s quick and explosive with a high motor for pass rushing. That belies how deceptively strong he is in the lower body, allowing him to anchor against the run.

4th round – Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Rice has been a consistently productive player at SMU. He has now taken his game to the next level with 761 yards in six games in 2022. He brings good size at 6’1 and showcased the speed and short-area quickness that thrives on Sundays. His after-the-catch prowess is something that will appeal to this Bears regime too.

4th round (via NE) – Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest

Yes, the Bears are committed to Fields for 2023. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t hedge their bets by adding another arm into the mix. Hartman hasn’t gained much draft buzz lately. That might be due to his lack of flashy physical traits and playing for a less marketable school. Yet the guy has showcased the arm strength, accuracy, and gamer mentality to play in the NFL. Six TD passes against Clemson. Going 3-1 against Florida State. The guy can play.

5th round – Micah Baskerville, LB, LSU

The Tampa-2 defense demands speed and versatility from its linebackers. Baskerville continues to showcase both at LSU. He has 12 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and two interceptions over the past two seasons, with more potentially coming. He can cover lots of ground in a hurry and has solid instincts for his position.

5th round (via HOU) – Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

Iowa always tends to produce high-quality defensive backs that get overlooked. Moss is no exception. He has the size and decent enough speed. His fluidity looks up to par for the NFL, and his ten interceptions show his ball skills aren’t a concern either. His route recognition could use some work, though, and he’ll need to be more aggressive.

7th round – Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State

An excellent way to end the first Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason. This new regime wants nastiness, and Beebe brings plenty of it. He’s a finisher on every snap with functional athleticism and good awareness. There are some technical issues he will need to fix, but his floor should be that of a capable backup at guard.

19 COMMENTS

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Dickfingers
Dickfingers
Oct 18, 2022 5:03 am

We don’t have a 6th rd pick so how’d we trade one with Kmet for the extra 5th?

And is the 1st rd pick Foskey or Tuipulotu? What the fuck man get an editor for your shit jfc

Last edited 1 year ago by Dickfingers
Randy
Randy
Oct 17, 2022 7:27 am

All fun to think about but recognizing that this roster needs at least two more years of upgrades to be truly competitive.

Nick
Nick
Oct 17, 2022 5:39 am

I stopped reading after you said Ridley. Such a dumb move. You’d be better off trading the second rounder for DJ Moore this year then going after injury prone head case Ridley.

HIM
HIM
Oct 16, 2022 4:20 pm

Sam Hartman?! What a wasted pick 😂😂😂😂

Danny
Danny
Oct 16, 2022 3:37 pm

Boy it would be a blessing if they landed Orlando Brown, Ben powers and Sedrick Van Pran. Move Braxton Jones to RT and with teven Jenkins at RG…it’s nice to dream big.
1st round pick will be Murphy or Carter you cannot pass them up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Danny

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