It was another disappointing season in Chicago as the Bears finished last in the NFC North for the 4th straight year. The 5-11 campaign cost John Fox his job and now the Bears will have Matt Nagy in charge and will give him the keys to the franchise. Nagy has done a great job at filling out his staff and deserves major kudos of being able to retain Vic Fangio, who has turned around a putrid defense and made them respectable once again since he took over the defensive unit in 2015. Nagy also hired Harry Hiestand to return to the Bears once again to coach the offensive line. Hiestand was on the coaching staff the last time the Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006. Mark Helfrich who helped develop Marcus Mariota into a Heisman quarterback will be the offensive coordinator and will have a huge part in developing Mitch Tribusky. One of the most underrated coaching signings this offseason is the signing of special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, who served under Dave Toub from 2008-2010 in Chicago before taking the Cleveland Browns special teams coordinator job. Chicago Bears special teams unit has been a glaring weakness ever since Dave Toub left and hopefully Tabor can revitalize that unit. His special teams unit in Cleveland ranked sixth in kickoff return against average, seventh in punt return average and ninth in total kick return yards since 2011.
Biggest Offseason Needs by Position
· Wide Receiver
· Right Tackle
· Defensive End
Free Agent Targets
Jarvis Landry, WR– The biggest need on this roster is playmakers at the Wide Receiver position for the Bears and signing Landry will give us that much-needed playmaker. Landry has eclipsed 100 receptions in two of the past three seasons and won’t turn 26 until later in the season, so he’s still fairly young and in his prime. To put those numbers in perspective Alshon Jeffery never eclipsed 100 receptions in his time in Chicago and the only Bears WR in history to have 100 receptions in a season twice in three seasons was when Brandon Marshall did it in 2012 & 2013.
Kyle Fuller, CB– With the retaining of Vic Fangio hopefully that gives the Bears an inside track in resigning Kyle Fuller to a long-term contract. Fuller has had his up and downs in a Bears uniform which is why Ryan Pace declined his fifth-year option, but Fuller has exceeded expectations and finally put it all together in 2017.
Prince Amukamara, CB– Chicago signed Prince to a “prove it” one year deal last year and he proved himself worthy of a signing a multi-year deal to stay in Chicago. The main thing with Prince was his health since he has only played one full season in 7-year career. In 2017, he only missed two games so he was fairly healthy this past season.
· 1st Round– Courtland Sutton, WR SMU– Sutton is a 6’4 215lb wideout who can become a number option big body WR that Mitch Tribusky desperately needs. Sutton has had double digits touchdown receptions his past two years at SMU.
· 2nd Round– Arden Key, DE LSU– Key is a first round talent but major concerns off the field may have him slide in the draft. If he’s there early in the 2nd round the Chicago Bears have to take the risk.
· 4th Round–Dante Pettis, WR Washington– Pettis can be another WR option for Mitch as well as help out in the return game. Pettis is the Pac-12’s all-time leader in Punt Returns for touchdowns with 9.
· 4th Round– Tyrell Crosby, OT Oregon-Crosby started off slow in 2017 due to the rust of missing most of his 2016 campaign but he bounced back nicely. He has familiarity with new Chicago Bears offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich which should help in adapting and learning the playbook fairly quickly.
· 5th Round– Levi Wallace, CB Alabama-Levi is a former walk-on who beat out highly ranked recruits for the starting job in 2017. Would be a nice young project for the Bears to groom and have added depth in the secondary.
· 6th Round–Matthew Thomas, ILB Florida State-Had a solid junior season with 85 tackles and would be brought in to try and make the squad for inside linebacker depth.
The Bears have the defensive unit to be a playoff team but the offense will have to do its part in 2018 if they want to take the next step as a team. With Nagy in charge, this team should put a better product on the field but it’s up to Ryan Pace to give Nagy weapons so he can have the best chance to succeed. The Bears need to be aggressive in their approach of obtaining playmakers at the WR position. Even with the return of Cameron Meredith (coming back from ACL injury) should be a plus for Mitch and the offensive unit the Chicago Bears still need more from that unit in 2018. If the Bears attack the WR position aggressively in free agency and the draft with the addition of Cameron Meredith as well as the continued growth of Dontrelle Inman this team should be able to take the next step and be one of the most surprising teams in the league next season.