The Chicago Bears know one thing for certain. The status quo isn’t going to cut it anymore. They tried to keep it in 2019 and they went 8-8. They made a few superficial moves in 2020 to improve but went 8-8 again. It’s clear something isn’t right with their current formula. Now GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are fighting for their jobs.
This could lead to a lot of unexpected events happening in the next few months. A perfect recipe for bold predictions. So what is going to happen? The regime is desperate. Big names are in flux. There are many variables to this situation. Here are five possibilities that I believe will come to pass before the Bears step back onto a football field again.
Chicago Bears bold predictions for the 2021 offseason
The defense will switch schemes
This one is fueled by a number of the recent interview requests the Bears have made. First with Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Glennon and the other with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards. Aside from both being disciples of Mike Zimmer, they also share something else in common. Backgrounds almost exclusively in a 4-3 defensive alignment. This would run counter to the 3-4 Chicago has employed since 2015.
Is it a big surprise? Not entirely. With Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn as their primary edge rushers, they seem to fit the 4-3 alignment better. The same goes for Bilal Nichols who is more of a classic three-technique defensive tackle. The trickier part will be figuring out what to do at linebacker. Who will play middle, who will play weakside, and who will play strongside. Figuring out what to do with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will be a challenge.
Two veteran players will be traded
Even if the 2021 salary cap doesn’t fall as far as it’s feared to, the Bears are still left with a significant money problem. Pace will have to go find it somehow. This could mean unloading some pricier contracts among the roster’s veteran core. That means either cuts or more like some calculate trades. Even if the draft return doesn’t equal the value of the player.
There are some names who could be available on the block:
- Akiem Hicks
- Kyle Fuller
- Charles Leno
- Anthony Miller
- Nick Foles
Obviously, the returns on any of those names will vary. Still, one can expect Pace to find a taker for at least two of them, netting the Bears a draft pick and much-needed cap space in return. Is it ideal? Of course not but this is the reality they’re faced with.
They will double down at quarterback
One thing that has become apparent about Pace during his tenure as GM? When he has a glaring need on the roster, he’s going to attack from every conceivable angle. People have seen that happen several times. In 2015 they needed wide receiver help. He signed Eddie Royal for $15 million and drafted Kevin White 7th overall. In 2017, they needed a quarterback. He signed Mike Glennon for $45 million and drafted Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall. This past year he did it too, signing Jimmy Graham for $18 million and drafting Cole Kmet in the 2nd round to bolster the tight end position.
That is why the Chicago Bears are going to hit the quarterback position not once but twice this offseason. We’re talking a veteran via either free agency or trade and then a draft pick. Probably outside the 1st round. Pace and Matt Nagy will aim to give themselves every opportunity to land somebody who can finally pull this offense out of the mud.
Ryan Pace will trade down in the 1st round for the first time
One thing everybody knows about Pace at this point is he’s aggressive. Highly aggressive. Especially when it comes to the draft. In six instances, he has moved up from his first pick three times. The other three he stayed put. To date, the man has never traded down with his top choice once. It’s apparent the GM believes in quality over quantity.
For the first time in seven offseason, that tradition will break when the Bears move down from 20th overall. Why would they do this? The primary factor is a need for more picks. Chicago could end up losing a lot of capable players this offseason due to their salary cap issues. They can’t fill all of those spots with just veteran minimum one-year deals. Remember they had the second-oldest roster this season. They have to get younger in some areas. Adding extra picks will help those efforts.
Allen Robinson will sign a long-term extension
Save the boldest for last? Certainly feels that way. The Chicago Bears remain trapped in a standoff with their star wide receiver over his contract. Robinson has said the team knows where he stands and seems to hint they haven’t made a good enough offer. Recently though details have emerged that price isn’t the primary problem anymore. It’s the uncertainty at quarterback.
Robinson has played the bulk of his career with Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky. Not ideal. The Bears will have to show him they have a plan to get that position fixed before he gets serious about sticking around. In a rare turn of events, they will manage to pull it off and end up securing their best offensive weapon to a new extension.