2022 NFL Offseason: Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears (Last Year: 6-11)

2022 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Trevor Siemian, WR Byron Pringle, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Dante Pettis, WR Tajae Sharpe, TE Ryan Griffin, TE James O’Shaughnessy, G Dakota Dozier, G/C Lucas Patrick, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, DT Justin Jones, DT Mike Pennel, CB Tavon Young.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Kyler Gordon, S Jaquan Brisker, WR Velus Jones, OT Braxton Jones, DE Dominique Robinson. Bears Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Nick Foles, WR Allen Robinson, OT Jason Peters, OT Germain Ifedi, OT Elijah Wilkinson, G James Daniels, DT Akiem Hicks, DT Bilal Nichols, DT Eddie Goldman, OLB Khalil Mack, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, LB Danny Trevathan, CB Artie Burns, KR Jakeem Grant.

2022 Chicago Bears Offense:
It’s been forever since the Bears have possessed a legitimate franchise quarterback, perhaps dating back to the Martin Van Buren administration. There have been many imposters over the years, including Mitchell Trubisky, Rex Grossman and Jay Cutler, but it’s been countless decades since Chicago fans have been able to proudly call someone their quarterback of the future.

Chicago fans were excited in the wake of the 2021 NFL Draft because the team was able to land Justin Fields. The Bears organization is not as enthusiastic, however, as it has opted to begin a complete rebuilding process rather than surround Fields with talent. This is evident by the team’s horrendous receiving corps. Darnell Mooney is coming off an excellent season, but he and tight end Cole Kmet are all Fields has at his disposal. With Allen Robinson gone, the rest of the receiving corps is comprised of Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Velus Jones. Pringle and St. Brown were never consistent producers despite being paired with Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, respectively, for multiple seasons. Jones has some promise as a deep speed threat, but he’s a 25-year-old rookie.

Fields personally requested that the Bears draft Jones upon watching game film of him with the coaching staff. He’ll be hoping he has enough time in the pocket to find Jones for big gains, but that’s unlikely to happen because Chicago arguably has the worst offensive line in the NFL. The blocking unit wasn’t great last year, and yet it lost Jason Peters, James Daniels and some key backups to free agency. Peters will be replaced by Larry Borom, a pedestrian blocker at best, while Daniels’ spot will be taken by Sam Mustipher, one of the worst offensive linemen on 53-man rosters.

It’s worth noting that Borom and Mustipher are sliding into the vacant positions from other spots. Teven Jenkins, a second-round pick from a year ago, will be the new right tackle. He has potential, but looked terrible in brief action as a rookie. Lucas Patrick, who did not play well for Green Bay this past season, will be the new center. The only bright spot on the offensive line is left guard Cody Whitehair, who turned 30 this offseason.

Fields won’t be the only one hurt by this miserable blocking. David Montgomery’s production will take a hit as well. Montgomery saw his yards-per-carry average drop from 4.3 to 3.8 last year, and that was with Peters and Daniels helping him.

2022 Chicago Bears Defense:
Chicago has assembled some miserable offenses throughout the years, but it has usually been able to count on its defense to win games. That has been true in recent seasons, as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and some of the other defenders led the team to some victories. That will not happen in 2022.

Both Mack and Hicks are gone. The edge rush obviously won’t be as potent without Mack. There’s still Robert Quinn, who produced 18.5 sacks last year, but he turned 32 this offseason, so some regression could be coming soon. Also, Quinn will garner more attention from the opposition with Mack no longer on the field. Granted, Mack missed a chunk of 2021, but Quinn notched a handful of his sacks with Mack playing. Quinn’s new bookend, Al-Quadin Muhammad, is not a very good player.

While Quinn is still on the edge rush, there is nothing in the interior of the defensive line. Not only is Hicks gone; Chicago also lost Bilal Nichols and Eddie Goldman. Replacing those talented linemen are the likes of Angelo Blackson, Justin Jones and Khyiris Tonga. None of them have ever played well in the NFL, outside of Jones’ decent 2020 campaign, which was followed up by a miserable 2021 season.

The Bears also lost a linebacker and a cornerback. The former is less significant, as Danny Trevathan had been a declining player for years. Besides, Chicago still has the talented Roquan Smith roaming the middle of the field. The problem is that the Bears don’t have much else at the position. Nicholas Morrow is expected to see the second-most snaps at linebacker, but he’s not a good player by any means.

The cornerback who left the team is Artie Burns. He’s a former first-round bust for the Steelers, but played surprisingly well for Chicago in 2021. Cornerback is one area the Bears addressed, spending an early second-round pick on Kyler Gordon. The Washington product will start across from Jaylon Johnson, a talented, young player. Tavon Young will start in the slot, which will pan out if he happens to stay healthy. Young, however, has missed 18 of the past 49 games.

Chicago also used a second-round choice on safety Jaquan Brisker. This will be a rare position of strength for the team if Brisker is as good as advertised. The rookie will play alongside Eddie Jackson, a rare, dynamic play-maker on the roster.

2022 Chicago Bears Schedule and Intangibles:
Robbie Gould was missed for a while, at least until two years ago. Cairo Santos was excellent, going 30-of-32 in 2020 and then 26-of-30 in 2021. He missed just one extra point in each of the past years.

The Bears scored a touchdown on special teams last year, while surrendering none to the opposition. However, Jakeem Grant is gone, so the special teams may take a hit.

Chicago has decided to fix its punting problem by spending a seventh-round pick on Trenton Gill.

The Bears have some winnable games this year against the Texans, Giants, Redskins, Falcons and Jets.

2022 Chicago Bears Rookies:
Go here for the Bears Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2022 Chicago Bears Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2022 Chicago Bears Analysis: The Bears will be in competition for the worst team in the NFL this year. They have just a few bright spots on the roster, so they could easily finish with the league’s worst record. This is all by design, however, as Chicago has decided to begin the rebuilding process despite possessing a potential franchise quarterback on a rookie deal.

Projection: 1-16 (4th in NFC North)

2021 Projection: 6-11. 2021 Actual Result: 6-11.
2020 Projection: 3-13. 2020 Actual Result: 8-8.
2019 Projection: 11-5. 2019 Actual Result: 8-8.
2018 Projection: 10-6. 2018 Actual Result: 12-4.
2017 Projection: 4-12. 2017 Actual Result: 5-11.
2016 Projection: 8-8. 2016 Actual Result: 3-13.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C Grade

Goals Entering the 2022 NFL Draft: The Bears don’t have a first-round pick because of the Justin Fields trade last April. They must now build around Fields, and it’s safe to say that they have their work cut out for them; they have huge needs at receiver and on the offensive line.

2022 NFL Draft Accomplishments: When I was writing my individual draft grades, I wrote that the Bears were setting up Justin Fields for failure when they spent their two second-round picks on defensive backs. Chicago obtained a couple of quality players in Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, but Fields was given no help. Adding receivers and offensive linemen would’ve been the better course of action.

Chicago eventually got around to bolstering Fields’ supporting cast, but in the end, the front office drafted just one receiver. I like Velus Jones as a deep threat, but he should have been the second receiver the Bears chose in the 2022 NFL Draft. There were plenty of talented wideouts in the second frame, yet Chicago passed on all of them. As for the offensive line, the Bears spent four third-day choices on blockers. I liked some of the picks, particularly Braxton Jones, but as with the receivers, this area should have been addressed earlier with players who have a higher rate of expected success.

The Bears need Fields to thrive in order for everyone to keep their jobs. Thus, I really don’t understand why they failed to acquire help for him. It’s not like the receiver and offensive line prospects in this class were pedestrian. Chicago had plenty of viable options to choose from, yet passed on so many appealing choices.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

39. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington – C+ Grade
I’d like Kyler Gordon here if he didn’t have some major character issues. Some teams removed Gordon from their draft board. Gordon will be a good player and fill a big need for the Bears if he stays focused on football, but it’s unclear if that’ll happen.

48. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State – C- Grade
The Bears are setting up Justin Fields for failure by not addressing the receiver position. I like Jaquan Brisker in this range as an instinctive safety, but not finding a receiver may ruin Fields. That will definitely factor into this grade.

71. Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee – B Grade
The Bears finally found some help for Justin Fields! I liked Velus Jones as a third-day sleeper, but not as much in the third round. Still, Jones could end up being a decent No. 2 receiver in the NFL with his great deep speed. Fields should enjoy throwing deep passes to him on the rare occasions in which he has protection in the pocket.

168. Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah – A Grade
I can’t believe it. Did the Bears just provide help for Justin Fields? I never thought they’d do that twice in this draft. Braxton Jones is a much-needed blocker for Chicago’s putrid offensive line, and he could have easily been chosen a round earlier than this.

174. Dominique Robinson, DE/OLB, Miami of Ohio – A Grade
Khalil Mack’s replacement! Dominique Robinson has some huge shoes to fill, but I love this pick. I thought Dominique Robinson could go early on Day 3, so this is great value. Robinson should be able to help with the pass rush because of his relentlessness.

186. Zachary Thomas, OT/G, San Diego State – B Grade
I don’t like this offensive line pick as much as I did the last one Chicago made, but it’s still a solid choice. Zachary Thomas can play both tackle and guard, and his versatility will be key for a team with severe blocking issues.

203. Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor – B Grade
A Tarik Cohen replacement? This is a fine pick. Trestan Ebner is a small back, but he’s a good receiver out of the backfield who runs quickly.

207. Doug Kramer, C, Illinois – C+ Grade
Doug Kramer was a rock-solid center at Illinois. I just didn’t think he had the athleticism to be in the NFL, but perhaps he’ll prove everyone wrong. Kramer could compete for starting action because Chicago’s offensive line is so bad.

226. Ja’Tyre Carter, OT/G, Southern – B+ Grade
Ja’Tyre Carter is a very athletic offensive lineman with nice upside, so I’m a fan of this pick in the final round. The Bears, once again, have major blocking issues, so perhaps Carter can eventually make his way into the starting lineup.

254. Elijah Hicks, S, California – B- Grade
Elijah Hicks was a productive player at California, but he’s a bit undersized, so I didn’t think he’d be drafted. We’re in the compensatory portion of the seventh round though, so this isn’t a big deal.

255. Trenton Gill, P, N.C. State – B Grade
Though punters are demonic abominations, they are worth picking in the seventh round as opposed to the fourth frame. I’m fine with this selection, though it’s not very exciting.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Bears have a bright future with Justin Fields, and part of that was discarding the past. They did so by firing Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, so perhaps they’ll have more success with a new front office.

Offseason Moves:
  • Bears sign WR Dante Pettis
  • Bears sign TE James O’Shaughnessy
  • Bears sign TE Ryan Griffin
  • Bears sign CB Tavon Young
  • Bears sign QB Trevor Siemian
  • Bears sign G Dakota Dozier
  • Bears sign DE Al-Quadin Muhammad
  • Bears sign DT Justin Jones
  • Bears sign WR Byron Pringle
  • Bears sign WR Equanimeous St. Brown
  • Bears sign G/C Lucas Patrick
  • Chargers acquire DE/OLB Khalil Mack for draft picks

    Team Needs:
    1. Offensive Tackle: Protecting Justin Fields is paramount. Jason Peters is a free agent, but even if he’s re-signed, he’ll be 40, so he could regress.

    2. Two Interior Offensive Linemen: Only one blocker will be needed if James Daniels is re-signed. That would be a center, as Sam Mustipher needs to be upgraded. Signed Lucas Patrick

    3. Cornerback: Once the Bears fix their offensive line, they must look at their secondary, which is lacking in talent outside of Jaylon Johnson. Beating Aaron Rodgers is impossible under Chicago’s current conditions. Signed Tavon Young

    4. Safety: Sticking with the theme of upgrading the secondary, a new starter next to Eddie Jackson must be found.

    5. Two Wide Receivers: The Bears must decide what to do with Allen Robinson. He’s an impending free agent coming off his worst year as a pro. Even if Chicago re-signs him, another receiver will be needed. Signed Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown

    6. Linebacker: Someone new is needed next to Roquan Smith. Alec Ogletree is terrible, while Danny Trevathan is too old. Signed Nicholas Morrow

    7. Defensive Tackle: Chicago’s defense is completely different when Akiem Hicks is sidelined. Hicks’ contract is expiring. Signed Justin Jones

    8. Punter: The Bears had a very weak punting unit last year.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2022 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Justin Jones, DT, Chargers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bears (2 years)

      Justin Jones is coming off a down year that was disrupted by injuries. He’s only 25, so he’ll bounce back if he can remain healthy next season.

    2. Tavon Young, CB, Ravens. Age: 28.
      Signed with Bears (1 year, $4 million)

      Tavon Young has played well in the past as Baltimore’s slot cornerback, but he has dealt with way too many injuries over the years.

    3. Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Colts. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bears (2 years, $10 million)

      Al-Quadin Muhammad is coming off his best season, notching six sacks in 2021.

    4. Byron Pringle, WR, Chiefs. Age: 28.
      Signed with Bears

      Patrick Mahomes relied on Byron Pringle more as the year progressed. He finished with a career-high 42 passes, but he could beat that next year.

    5. Lucas Patrick, G, Packers. Age: 29. — Signed with Bears (2 years, $8 million)
    6. Nicholas Morrow, LB, Raiders. Age: 27. — Signed with Bears
    7. Ryan Griffin, TE, Jets. Age: 32. — Signed with Bears (1 year)
    8. James O’Shaughnessy, TE, Jaguars. Age: 30. — Signed with Bears
    9. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Packers. Age: 25. — Signed with Bears
    10. Mike Pennel, DT, Falcons. Age: 31. — Signed with Bears
    11. Dakota Dozier, G, Vikings. Age: 31. — Signed with Bears
    12. Dante Pettis, WR, Giants. Age: 26. — Signed with Bears

    Chicago Bears Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. James Daniels, G, Bears. Age: 24.
      Signed with Steelers (3 years, $26.5 million)

      James Daniels has been a rare, steady presence on the Bears’ offensive line. He’s both stellar at run blocking and pass protection. It’s crazy that he’s still only 24.

    2. Akiem Hicks, DE/DT, Bears. Age: 32.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      There’s a lengthy history of the Bears being far worse against the run when Akiem Hicks is out of the lineup. Hicks is a force up front, though age (32) is becoming an issue.

    3. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears. Age: 29.
      Signed with Rams (3 years, $46.5 million)

      What happened to Allen Robinson last year? He looked like a shell of his former self, yet he’s not even 30 yet. There’s a good chance Robinson will rebound in 2022.

    4. Jason Peters, OT, Bears. Age: 40.
      Despite his age, Jason Peters still performed on a Pro Bowl level last year. At 40, however, a sharp decline is coming soon for the future Hall of Famer.

    5. Jakeem Grant, WR/KR, Bears. Age: 29.
      Signed with Browns (3 years, $13.8 million)

      Jakeem Grant doesn’t do much as a receiver, but he’s a dynamic kick returner.

    6. Bilal Nichols, DT, Bears. Age: 25.
      Signed with Raiders

      Bilal Nichols was seen as a high-upside defensive lineman coming out of Delaware. He’s only 25, so he could continue to develop.

    7. Germain Ifedi, OT, Bears. Age: 28.
      Signed with Falcons

      Germain Ifedi has been a fine pass protector in recent seasons, though he missed a chunk of 2021 with a knee issue.

    8. Eddie Goldman, NT, Bears. Age: 28.
      Announced retirement

      Eddie Goldman was once a stout run-stuffing nose tackle, but he hasn’t been the same since quitting on his team in 2020. Also, Goldman drops lots of gold when defeated.

    9. Eddie Goldman, NT, Bears. Age: 28.
      Signed with Falcons

      Eddie Goldman was once a stout run-stuffing nose tackle, but he hasn’t been the same since quitting on his team in 2020. Also, Goldman drops lots of gold when defeated.

    10. Elijah Wilkinson, OT, Bears. Age: 27. — Signed with Falcons
    11. DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, Bears. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Bears
    12. Danny Trevathan, LB, Bears. Age: 32.
    13. Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears. Age: 27.
    14. Damiere Byrd, WR, Bears. Age: 29. — Signed with Falcons
    15. Alec Ogletree, LB, Bears. Age: 30.
    16. Damien Williams, RB, Bears. Age: 30. — Signed with Falcons
    17. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Bears. Age: 31. — Signed with Seahawks
    18. Tashaun Gipson, S, Bears. Age: 32.
    19. Andy Dalton, QB, Bears. Age: 34. — Signed with Saints (1 year, $6 million)
    20. Nick Foles, QB, Bears. Age: 33. — Signed with Colts (2 years)
    21. Deon Bush, S, Bears. Age: 29. — Signed with Chiefs
    22. Jesse James, TE, Bears. Age: 28.
    23. Jimmy Graham, TE, Bears. Age: 35.
    24. Christian Jones, LB, Bears. Age: 31.
    25. Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Bears. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks (1 year)
    26. Pat O’Donnell, P, Bears. Age: 34. — Signed with Packers

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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