GM Ryan Poles has continued a systematic approach to helping his roster over the past month. Every position deemed a significant weakness going into training camp was addressed in various forms. The Chicago Bears traded a future 7th round pick to the New England Patriots for wide receiver N’Keal Harry. The 24-year-old still has loads of untapped potential. A fresh start may do him good. Then Poles struck again by signing two veteran offensive linemen in guard Michael Schofield and tackle Riley Reiff. Both have extensive, proven experience the front sorely lacked.
Two big issues addressed. Everybody seemed to relax after that. Another reminder that offense remains the focal point of fan and media consciousness. The truth is the Bears still have glaring holes on the roster, including the defensive side of the ball. They did an excellent job retooling the secondary. The same can’t be said for their linebackers. Albert Breer of the MMQB hinted the team might not be satisfied with their current status quo. Additional moves might be forthcoming a few weeks from now.
5) The biggest question on defense right now is at LB, with Roquan Smith and not a ton of depth there. Matt Adams and Joe Thomas are fighting for playing time at the SAM spot, and it's not impossible that the Bears could comb the waiver wire for help down the line.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 31, 2022
It is hardly a surprise.
The Bears didn’t do much at linebacker this off-season. Their only notable move was signing veteran Nicholas Morrow. He will take over as middle linebacker while Roquan Smith moves to the outside. Yet, with the two-time All-Pro holding out over a contract dispute, it has likely exposed how thin the Bears are at the position. Matt Adams and Joe Thomas have 25 games combined starting experience. Neither looked overly good when doing so.
Undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn has flashed from time to time in practice, but he’s an unknown quantity. Like the offensive line a week ago, there isn’t a lot of depth or stability with this group. If Smith or Morrow were to get hurt, that would expose them to a severe drop in capability.
Chicago Bears could benefit from a late signing.
Teams have made quality linebackers available in August before. Denzel Perryman and Joe Schobert were acquired via cheap trades, and both finished with over 110 tackles last season. It isn’t crazy to think another team will cut loose a veteran that may have what the Bears need. Don’t forget Matt Eberflus is a linebacker specialist. He played the position in college and coached it in the NFL. He knows what to look for.
This will come down to two factors. Who ends up being available around the end of August, and whether anybody not named Smith or Morrow manages to impress before that time. Such variables require time and evaluation to sort out. There is a strong likelihood that the Chicago Bears coaching staff will have an answer to that second part by the end of the preseason’s second week.
It is an excellent opportunity for those involved.
Still, if one wanted to bet money, there is a strong likelihood the team will add a veteran at some point before opening day in September. For what it’s worth, some are still available right now. Anthony Barr is out there. The same goes for Anthony Hitchens, A.J. Klein, and Jaylon Smith. All have loads of starting experience and played at a high level in the not-too-distant past.