The Mitch Trubisky experiment has sailed on, and a failed but ongoing courting of QB Russell Wilson has forced the Chicago Bears into Andy Dalton and Nick Foles. Moreover, their star wide receiver contemplated holding out after being franchise tagged (and still could).
The Bears, certainly, have had an offseason filled with lots of uncertainty.
With general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy both seeming to be on their final legs with the team, this offseason has done nothing to help solidify their standing within the organization. Facing an uphill battle to become competitive in the NFC North division that has been consistently dominated by the Green Bay Packers, there are plenty of holes that the Bears still need to address.
Their foray into free agency did not produce many fruitful additions, as they saw more impactful subtractions (CB Kyle Fuller, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, S Deon Bush, Trubisky, etc.) leave this offseason than replacements brought in. But the Bears are used to turning through talent, and this past season was just another instance of that.
Of all of the holes that this team still needs to fill, addressing their defensive secondary is the biggest one–and was a big-time need even before Fuller was released.
Second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson will head into his first season atop the CB depth chart, and his rookie season was very promising. Having shown flashes of becoming a strong CB1, he will be thrown to the wolves early and often. Additionally, playing in a division where he will be lined up opposite the likes of Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen (plus any rookie wideouts), he will have his hands full.
Desmond Trufant was brought in this offseason on a one-year deal after coming over from the Detroit Lions, and while the former Washington Huskie is heading into his ninth season in the league for a reason, the 30-year-old defensive back is nothing more than a stop-gap option for the Bears. Other options like Duke Shelley and Teez Tabor will add depth, but they are not good enough to become this team’s long-term CB2, which will hold this once-dominant defense back.
For safeties, Eddie Jackson will be leading this team from the back-end once again, but ever since the team let Adrian Amos sign with the Packers a few seasons back, they have been looking for the perfect compliment next to the Alabama product. Bush left town, and this team has no official safeties listed on their depth chart, so addressing safety is just as important as adding a corner.
With the first full week of free agency having come and gone, the Bears did not (and still do not) have that kind of free money to make any moves to bring in the top defensive backfield options. However, there a few options still out on the market that they could look to, even if only for a season.
Richard Sherman is still a free agent, and there has not been a ton of interest shown his way since free agency began. While he would most likely prefer to head to a team that is competitive and near a lock to be in the playoffs, he could do worse on a one-year deal with the Bears, where he would be looked to as a veteran option to help prepare Johnson for the league and line up on the other side of the field like him.
Sherman’s wheels certainly are not what they used to be, but he still regularly produces above-average coverage grades, and the Bears really are not in a position to be picky at this point.
In the draft, using a Day 2 pick on a Jaycee Horn, Tyson Campbell, Aaron Robinson or Greg Newsome II would be a smart usage of their second or third-round selection, and it would go a long way to helping repair their defense. Horn and Newsome II figure to be Tier 1B/2A in the draft (behind Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain II), with Horn being a likely top-25 selection and Newsome II being the first CB gone after the top three.
In repairing a team that is devoid of the kind of talent that it saw in its double-doink season, the Bears are lacking across the board in proven players. If they want to compete in the top-heavy NFC North division, upgrading their defensive backfield is a key first step to getting back into competition for the divisional crown.