The Chicago Bears were one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season, going just 8-8 and missing the playoffs one year after winning 12 games and capturing the NFC North division title.
After this miserable campaign, it’s clear that the Bears have needs up and down the roster. Still, the problem is that Chicago doesn’t exactly have a ton of cap space, with Rich Campbell of The Chicago Tribune speculating that the Bears will have around $20 million to spend.
Chicago can always open up more room, but chances are, the Bears will be operating on a relatively strict budget this offseason.
Be that as it may, here are three free-agent targets for Chicago:
3. The Bears could benefit from a productive tight end
When the Bears signed tight end Trey Burton in March 2018, they thought they were adding a big piece to their offense, and that did hold somewhat true during his first season, as he caught 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. However, in 2019, Burton logged a grand total of 14 catches, and his exit may be coming.
That means Chicago needs a tight end, and while it probably won’t be able to splurge on someone like Austin Hooper or Hunter Henry, Jacob Hollister could be a realistic addition.
In 11 games with the Seattle Seahawks this season, Hollister snared 41 balls for 349 yards and three scores, which would have been a blessing to the Bears’ anemic offense.
He’s not Travis Kelce, but he won’t be too expensive, and he could provide a nice, reliable target for Mitchell Trubisky.
2. Some more help for their offensive line
Now in his fourth season, right tackle Jack Conklin has been a steady presence along the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line.
Outside of an injury-riddled 2018 campaign in which he was limited to nine games, Conklin has been a force, and he even earned first-team All-Pro honors in his rookie year back in 2016.
At 25 years old, Conklin has a bright future ahead of him, and with the Bears needing a whole lot of help along the offensive line, he could end up providing some stability.
Of course, his price tag may be a problem, as Conklin will surely be one of the most sought-after offensive linemen on the open market this March, and again, Chicago’s wallet is relatively thin.
Perhaps the Bears can more cost-efficiently address the line through the draft, but if they do peruse the free-agent market, Conklin would be a terrific pickup, both in the short-term and the long-term.
1. A bell-cow running back
The Bears went into 2019 with a three-pronged rushing attack that featured Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery.
The results? Davis carried the ball just 11 times and was cut midway through the season, Cohen was a virtual non-factor on the ground and Montgomery averaged just 3.7 yards per carry during his rookie campaign.
There is hope for Montgomery to develop into something, but Chicago also desperately needs some pop on offense, and Melvin Gordon would bring that to the table.
Is Gordon an elite running back? No, which may not be a bad thing in this case, because that means he won’t get paid like one. But he would immediately become the Bears’ top rusher, and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield would give Trubisky a much-needed weapon.