Dannehy: Quick Thoughts on the Early Moves

| March 16th, 2023

For the first time since he became the GM, Ryan Poles is showing aggressiveness and his plans for the team are becoming clear.

In a vacuum, it’s hard to argue with trading the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for the ninth pick, their 2024 first and, perhaps most importantly, DJ Moore, amongst other pieces. That trade values Moore as a first-round pick, which makes sense when you compare his production to others who have been traded in recent years. Furthermore, getting Moore in the trade will make the Panthers worse in 2024 and 2025, thus improving the draft picks the Bears will receive in those years as part of the trade.

Moore doesn’t just give the Bears an actual Number One wide receiver, he goes them a WR1 who fits their quarterback. His average depth of target (ADOT) — 13.1 — was second amongst players with 100 or more targets. Justin Fields throws a great deep ball and with Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, the Bears will have three wide receivers who can be on the receiving ends of those bombs.

Edwards+Edmunds+2nd rounder > Roquan

Nobody who is qualified to speak on the subject will tell you the Bears upgraded from Roquan Smith, but they clearly upgraded the linebacker position with a series of strategic moves.

There was a clear, steep drop off once the Bears traded Smith for a second-round pick last year. As much as fans liked Jack Sanborn, the Bears clearly didn’t evaluate the UDFA out of Wisconsin the same way. On Monday, we learned of the team’s intentions to sign Philadelphia’s TJ Edwards and Buffalo’s Tremaine Edmunds — the latter to a rather large deal.

Both are quality starting linebackers who fill not only a position of need, but a position of great importance in the Matt Eberflus defense. The bonus is that, combined, they cost less than Smith and Nick Morrow would’ve in 2023 and the Bears still have a second-round pick from trading Smith.

More Trench Help Needed

As much credit as the Bears deserve for their moves at wide receiver and linebacker, they were the worst team in the league in the trenches last year and haven’t done enough to address that.

Nate Davis is a good signing and he’ll surely start at one guard spot with Tevin Jenkins and Cody Whitehair possibly battling for the other position.

Defensive end/tackle DeMarcus Walker is OK, but his annual salary isn’t much different than that of Justin Jones, so it isn’t as if the Bears are viewing him as anything more than an average starter.

But, as of this writing, that’s it.

Signing Edmunds is nice, but roughly the same amount of money could’ve been used on offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey or defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones. Truth be told, the Bears probably could’ve found a way to sign all three or at least two of the three. McGlinchey and Jones play positions that are considered more valuable and were certainly bigger needs for the Bears. Who would you rather the Bears start: Jack Sanborn or Larry Borom?

The Bears need at least one more starter along the offensive line and two on the defensive line. They can get one in the draft, but likely won’t be able to reliably fill all three holes. They shouldn’t rely on players taken outside the top 50 to be starters.

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