The Chicago Bears need to upgrade their roster this offseason. For that to happen, they’ll need one or two fortunate bounces to go their way. Could it be via trade? The draft? Free agency? It is difficult to tell at this point. One thing that is becoming clear though is the veteran market could be richer in available talent than in previous years. This due in large part to the expected drop of the 2021 salary cap.

With so many teams suddenly laden with bloated contracts, it’s quite possible there will be several unexpected releases over the next month. Players who could play a pivotal role in helping the Bears make a serious playoff run next season if they can find enough room for them. What are some possibilities they should watch out for?

Here is a list of names.

Chicago Bears may have some interesting names to monitor

Jake Matthews (Atlanta Falcons)

Teams aren’t prone to giving up good left tackles too often. That is what makes the 2021 offseason potentially so unique. The Falcons are in a huge cap crunch. They could going into the spring over $31 million in the red. Some sacrifices are coming. One of them could be their steady blindside protector Matthews. Cutting him with a post-June 1st designation would net them $13 million. He’d be an instant upgrade over Charles Leno for the Bears though his price tag would obviously be a challenge given their own cap issues.

Eric Fisher (Kansas City Chiefs)

Kansas City will likely try to keep their roster as intact as possible. They have some tough decisions coming with their offensive line as both tackles are looking more expensive by the day. The team is $23 million over the cap. Releasing Fisher would net an instant $11.96 million. While not elite by any standard, the guy has talent, experience, and a strong connection to head coach Matt Nagy from their time in Kansas City together. If they wanted to move on from Leno, this is one guy who’d make a ton of sense.

Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans)

The Texans aren’t technically over the cap like other teams, but their roster is in dire need of a makeover. For that, they’ll need spending money. The odds are GM Nick Caserio is going to cut deep wherever he possibly can. Cooks would net them an instant $12 million in space. An unfortunate loss since he topped 1,000 yards in 2020 but he isn’t essential to their long-term plans. Chicago should absolutely be interested in him. He’s one of the best speed threats in the NFL. Just imagine him and Darnell Mooney on the field together.

Evan Engram (New York Giants)

Jimmy Graham could be on the chopping block for the Chicago Bears due to cap issues of their own. That will open a void at the “U” tight end spot. One guy who’d fit it well is Engram. His body type and versatility are exactly what Nagy seeks from that position. It’s clear his time in New York is likely at an end. They need cap space and he gets them over $6 million with no dead money. Pairing him with Cole Kmet would give Chicago an intriguing tandem with very different skillsets.

Gabe Jackson (Las Vegas Raiders)

Offensive guard isn’t as pressing of a concern for the Bears as tackle is. That said, guys with talent like Jackson should not be ignored. When healthy, he is an absolute powerhouse in the run game who also can protect his quarterback. The Raiders have $18.8 million in cap space to find to get out of the red. Jackson’s release would secure over half that at $9.6 million. If the Bears feel they want to try James Daniels at center again while keeping Cody Whitehair at left guard? Then sliding Jackson to right guard would be perfect.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

People will roll their eyes at this. They shouldn’t. Roethlisberger turns 40 in March. The Steelers could be $30 million over the salary cap when the league year begins. Big Ben is due to carry a cap in excess of $41 million. Pittsburgh would secure $19 million by cutting him alone. They have a tough decision to make. Maybe it’s time for them to finally end an era and look for their next quarterback. Roethlisberger had a good year with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If the Chicago Bears wanted a one-year solution to their problem, he could be their guy.