As the Chicago Bears get ready to kickoff free agency next week, they should have an eye on finding proven talent with which to surround Justin Fields. This is a similar process to what the team did in 2018 with Mitch Trubisky.
The Bears shelled out big money for Allen Robinson, while also adding Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton. While Gabriel and Burton were both injured early in their tenures, they were also key parts to the team’s 12-4 campaign in 2018. It was when they were no longer available that questions about the supporting cast began.
What hurt the Bears more was the slow — or nonexistent — development of second round picks James Daniels and Anthony Miller. It wasn’t until last year that Daniels finally seemed to come around, though probably still didn’t play up to his draft status. Miller showed flashes but bounced around the league last year after the Bears traded him to Houston. He ended up with just six total catches with Houston and Pittsburgh. The other wide receiver drafted in 2018, Javon Wims, was cut before the season began. Adding to the supporting cast failures was the Riley Ridley selection.
When it comes to evaluating quarterback play, the first question is always regarding what is around the player. The Bears need to do what they can to make sure they have that answered.
The Bears can free up some money and target the offensive line. They could lock down the left side with a player like Cam Robinson, bring back Daniels and sign perhaps Laken Tomlinson or Lucas Patrick. An offensive line of Robinson, Cody Whitehair, Patrick, Daniels and, probably Teven Jenkins should be good enough to win with.
The team needs to add to the wide receiver room simply because they don’t have enough players right now. The market figures to be interesting with several potential bargains. There have been rumors about the team being interested in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, since Luke Getsy was hired. He should be cheap and provides a potential home run threat. Pairing him with Darnell Mooney would guarantee that defenses would have to respect the deep ball.
The big names are being franchise tagged out of the market, but Bears could take a swing at DJ Chark as a high upside signing and JuJu Smith-Schuster could also be an interesting and not overly expensive player. The best football fit might actually be Allen Robinson, though it’s not likely to happen.
With those signings, the Bears could add to the defense — perhaps Xavier Rhodes would want to follow Matt Eberflus from the Colts? Anthony Harris could be an interesting safety to pair with Eddie Jackson. Their early draft picks could focus on some key defenders for their new defense, including a three-technique defensive tackle and a linebacker to pair with Roquan Smith — last week’s NFL combine proved there are some interesting prospects at both positions.
This isn’t to say the Bears should ignore the offense in the draft — this is one year in which “best player available” should be a legitimate strategy — but surrounding Fields with sure things will significantly help the evaluation process and speed up his development.