Ryan Poles doesn’t want to make a habit out of building the Chicago Bears through free agency. That isn’t the way consistent winners thrive. Still, he has the worst roster in the NFL. If he wants to change that, he’ll have to spend some of that $90 million in salary cap space this March. The challenge is finding those players he might covet. It comes down to talent, fit, and price. There are plenty of intriguing candidates. Mike McGlinchey and Kaleb McGary headline a decent right tackle group. The running back market is rich with guys like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard.
Both could be areas that Poles dabbles in. However, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune was collecting information on various topics at the Senior Bowl. When free agency came up, he believed that defensive tackle would likely be a top priority for the team. That is hardly a surprise after the Bears finished with 20 sacks and were one of the worst in the NFL against the run. When considering who they might make a run at, Biggs listed one name over the others.
“I think there’s a good chance Dre’Mont Jones reaches the open market. He had 6½ sacks for the Denver Broncos this season but wasn’t nearly as productive after Bradley Chubb was traded away. Jones would be an ideal fit as a three-technique, according to one veteran personnel man, and that’s the kind of player the Bears need to target in free agency for major expenditures. They need to find guys coming out of their rookie contracts and entering their prime years.”
This is an easy sell for the Chicago Bears.
Jones might not get the same hype as Washington breakout star Da’Ron Payne, but his impact as an interior pass rusher is beyond argument. Jones has 18.5 sacks and 32 quarterback hits in his last three seasons. This is despite missing seven games with some injury setbacks. He can be a wrecking ball when he is allowed to shoot gaps and get up the field. Most of his career has been spent in a 3-4 defense, but his skill set would have no problem adjusting to a 4-3 defensive tackle as a three-technique.
He turned 26 in January and is in his prime. The only thing left is the price. Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus projects Jones will command a contract of around $14.5 million annually. That would make him the 10th-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in football. The Chicago Bears can easily afford such a deal with their wealth of cap space. Some believe Denver will try to keep Jones, but they aren’t in an ideal position to do so. Right now, they only have $9 million in cap space. While they have ways to create more, it might not be enough to absorb him and keep other free agents too.
The Broncos may have to let him walk, connecting themselves with compensatory draft picks.