The Chicago Bears have pretty much reached a crossroads in their 2021 season. After losing by double digits for the third week in a row, it is clearer than ever this is not a contending football team. It’s old, injured, and depleted in too many spots on the roster. They need a reboot. The good news is they might just have the foundational piece they’ve been missing in quarterback Justin Fields.
At 3-5, there is plenty of justification for the organization to start thinking about the future. That means selling off any pieces on the roster that won’t be part of the long-term picture. The NFL trade deadline is just over 24 hours away. One huge move was already made as Denver sent Von Miller to the Rams for 2nd and 3rd round picks. It isn’t hard to think that some other teams that are contending might seek assets to help them during the stretch run.
Will the Bears oblige them?
That depends on how willing they are to part with certain players. While GM Ryan Pace has been listening to offers on several names on the roster, a source informed me that the two guys getting the most traction are Allen Robinson and Akiem Hicks. Both for their obvious talent and value as players but also their contract situations. Neither carries any significant guaranteed money the acquiring team would have to pay.
Dealing them would make sense for the Bears. Both are looking for new contracts but both likely aren’t part of the Bears’ plans beyond 2021. Robinson looks like he has checked out, off to the worst start of his career. Hicks is pushing into his 30s and beginning to suffer more frequent health issues. With only five picks in the 2022 draft, dealing one or both of them would give the team more flexibility next offseason.
Chicago Bears might be handcuffed by the men in charge
If Pace and head coach Matt Nagy were in their first year together? There is no doubt they’d likely be looking to make these moves. Now? The Bears are caught in an awkward spot. Both men could be on the hot seat and need to win football games in order to save their jobs. Trading two key guys like Robinson and Hicks might aid the team long-term but isn’t going to help keep them employed.
The bottom line is the Chicago Bears have kept the phones open. They are listening. However, Pace’s history at the deadline combined with the uncertain future of this regime makes it difficult to know for sure whether they will make any deals. Not unless an offer blows them away. An unfortunate byproduct of George McCaskey making the decision to keep both men this past offseason.
Maybe they hatch a surprise.
Otherwise, it’s a safe bet Robinson and Hicks will depart next offseason. Depending on what the Bears do in free agency, it is possible they might look to secure compensatory picks in 2023 for them and others. Either way, fans will have some clarity on where this team is at by the end of business hours on November 2nd.