3 burning questions for the Chicago Bears this offseason
The Chicago Bears are fresh off a season that saw the once heralded franchise return to the playoffs, thanks to the team’s impressive — and very unexpected — 12-4 record.
While winning an NFC North division title will surely help carry Chicago into next season, the Bears did not last long come playoff time en route to being ousted from Super Bowl contention by the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-15, in this year’s Wild Card round.
Despite the Bears’ tremendous regular season run in 2018-19, Chicago’s early exit from the postseason will definitely leave a sour taste in the mouth of each and every player in the “Windy City.”
As a result, the Bears still have a few questions that the team needs answering this offseason.
3. Will the Bears rely on Trey Burton at the tight end position?
The Bears thought that the team had its tight end of the future locked up for the next several seasons after inking former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton to a multi-year contract ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
However, Burton struggled at times during his first go-round in Chicago, which could lead the Bears to consider adding another tight end this offseason.
A Super Bowl hero in Philadelphia, Burton registered 54 receptions for 569 yards and six touchdowns for the Bears this past season. Though each statistic formed a new single-season career-high mark for Burton, the majority of such production came in just a handful of games.
There are a few options out there whether the Bears would like to add another tight end alongside Burton or propel someone to the top of the depth chart ahead of the former Eagles pass catcher. Such a list of options could be headlined by the likes of Tyler Eifert, Jared Cook and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
2. Can head coach Matt Nagy keep the energy up through the offseason?
After becoming an NFL head coach for the first time last offseason, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy will now begin gearing up for his second go-round at the helm in the “Windy City.”
While it is definitely pretty easy to get hyped up for your first season as an NFL head coach, will Nagy be able to capture the same energy when the Bears return to the field this summer?
The up-and-coming Bears seemed to feed off of Nagy’s relentless and seemingly never-ending energy throughout the 2018-19 campaign. With such a notion no doubt helping the Bears week-in and week-out, Nagy must continue to keep spirits high in Chicago — especially if his team encounters some diversity along the way.
Because the Bears rarely had any trouble in 2018-19, things went pretty smoothly for Nagy in what would ultimately become a memorable first season as an NFL head coach.
However, the true test will be when things inevitably get tough, which could come sooner rather than later.
1. Can the Bears retain the team’s top free agents?
Allowing a free agent to test the open market always become a slippery slope as other teams from around the league can potentially swoop in at any time throughout the offseason.
With the Chicago Bears now slated to let 20 players test the market in some capacity — whether they are restricted or unrestricted free agents — Chicago must make a point to retain at least three of these players.
It can be argued that defensive back Adrian Amos and linebacker Aaron Lynch are the names to keep an eye on going forward.
With Amos finally breaking out in 2018-19, the Bears should seriously consider outbidding other potential suitors this offseason. Over the course of all 16 regular season games in 2018-19, Amos produced a single-season career-high 73 total tackles alongside two interceptions. Prior to this past season, he had only registered one career interception while since becoming a staple of the Chicago secondary.
On the other hand, Lynch adds a much-needed veteran presence to a young Bears defense. Though the Bears have more than enough firepower within the team’s defensive front, retaining Lynch could help keep the cohesiveness flowing into 2019-20. The former San Francisco 49ers linebacker in Lynch did help out with three sacks in his first season with the Bears, though such production wouldn’t be hard to replace going forward.
However, his veteran prowess certainly would be.
It is absolutely no surprise that the team’s two most important free agents reside on the defensive side of the football either.