Projecting the Chicago Bears Depth Chart After Peak of Free Agency
It has been an extensive overhaul to the defensive line this offseason. Head coach Marc Trestman now has the reinforcements on defense to go with his high-powered offense.
At this point, the majority of the roster is intact. We can now accurately address the depth chart. This, of course, will change after the draft, but here's how the team would line up at this point in the year.
1. Jay Cutler: Fresh off a new extension, Cutler will look to lead this Bears team in his second season in Marc Trestman's offense. Cutler will also look to play a full season for the first time since 2009.
2. Jordan Palmer: Only 15 pass attempts over the course of four years for Palmer.
3. Jerrod Johnson: Don't expect Johnson to keep this position come the start of the regular season.
1. Matt Forte: It was a terrific dual-threat season for Forte. He earned his second Pro Bowl honor after posting career highs in rushing yards and receptions.
2. Michael Ford: There's added value in special teams from Ford. It will be interesting to see who the Bears bring in for competition for Ford. He's unproven, but could still be a solid backup.
1. Tony Fiammetta: It's a new contract for Fiammetta and possibly an expanded role in the offense. He's a solid blocking back who could surprise people with his receiving skills.
1. Brandon Marshall: There's no doubt as to who the leader of this young and talented group is. Marshall will look to put up monster numbers as he seeks a new deal from the Bears.
2. Alshon Jeffery: The young receiver is emerging as one of the league's most dangerous weapons. He and Jay Cutler need to work on their on-field relationship. Former Bears quarterback Josh McCown was instrumental in Jeffery's emergence.
3. Marquess Wilson: The tall and athletic receiver from Washington State will be given every chance to be the team's slot receiver. Given his talent and upside, he should win the job.
4. Domenik Hixon: The former Panther and Giant receiver should provide a ton of value on special teams.
5. Eric Weems: It will be a fight for Weems as he tries to prove he can still provide some skills to special teams. He's still in his 20s, so don't write off the seven-year veteran yet.
6. Terrence Toliver: It hasn't been a smooth start to Tolliver's career. He will have another uphill battle to make this team as the Bears bring in more talent.
1. Martellus Bennett: Over the last two seasons, Bennett has been able to put up career numbers. He should be on track to do the same in his second year with Jay Cutler.
2. Fendi Onobun: Could this be the season Onobun finally takes the next step? He has a ton of talent but has had trouble hanging on to the football. He's a solid training camp away from taking this backup spot.
3. Dante Rosario: It will be interesting to see if Rosario stays on this team. He had only one catch last year and the Bears could draft a player who provides more than the journeyman.
1. Jermon Bushrod: Last year's top free-agent prize for the Bears comes into his second season in Chicago. There's a good chance he could put together a Pro Bowl campaign this season.
1. Matt Slauson: There's a new deal in place for the Bears' most underrated signing last year. He did a great job in helping to lock down the left side of the line.
2. James Brown: It helps to have a guy like Brown who can provide some quality depth and even start a game if needed.
1. Roberto Garza: The longtime veteran returns for what likely is has last season. He's been a warrior in a Bears uniform and deserves a proper sendoff.
2. Taylor Boggs: The Bears are going to need a better long-term answer at center than Boggs.
1. Kyle Long: The arrow continues to point up for the nasty lineman from Oregon. He managed to make a Pro Bowl his first season and should be in line to receive the honor year after year.
2. James Brown: As of now, Brown will be the guy who can play either guard position if needed.
1. Jordan Mills: What a pleasant surprise. Nobody ever thought the fifth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech would start every game last year.
Left Defensive End
1. Lamarr Houston: Fans should be excited about Houston. He has a high motor and thirst to succeed. He will benefit greatly from the talent accumulated on the defensive line.
2. Cornelius Washington: Don't write off last year's sixth round pick just yet. Washington will be given every chance to prove he belongs and should respond nicely in his second season.
3. Austen Lane: It seems like ages ago since the Bears brought in Lane. Look how many other high-profile moves they have made on the defensive line.
Left Defensive Tackle
1. Jeremiah Ratliff: It will be an interesting season for Ratliff. He will look to regain his Pro Bowl form and prove he still has what it takes as he plays his first full season since 2011.
2. Nate Collins: A torn ACL cut Collins' season short last year. When healthy, he's a very valuable backup.
1. Stephen Paea: This is a make-or-break season for Paea. The Bears will likely bring in some stiff competition from the draft to push him.
Right Defensive End
1. Jared Allen: Nothing like bringing in a player who has over 125 career sacks. Allen brings nastiness and credibility to the defensive line.
2. Willie Young: Look for Young to come in a lot on third down to put pressure on the quarterback. This means Lamarr Houston will move to the inside.
3. Israel Idonije: An old friend is back in Chicago, but does he have enough to make the roster?
4. David Bass: He might get buried on the depth chart, but there is some promise for the pass-rushing specialist.
1. Lance Briggs: There's no question who the leader on this defense is. Briggs will look to stay healthy and captain this retooled group.
2. Jordan Senn: Special teams is where you will see Senn's biggest contribution. He's a tackling machine.
1. D.J. Williams: None of the youngsters have the knowledge or skill to beat out Williams at middle linebacker.
2. Jon Bostic: If the Bears have to see Bostic at middle linebacker again, then they might be in trouble.
3. Jerry Franklin: Three tackles for Franklin last year.
1. Jon Bostic: This is where Bostic can flourish. His speed and hard hitting ability will be unleashed without having to worry about the discipline that comes with the middle linebacker role.
2. Shea McClellin: It will be an interesting season as we all try to figure out exactly what McClellin's role on this team is. He can rush the passer but also has the skill to cover some backs and tight ends. Picture Jamie Collins and Rob Ninkovich from the New England Patriots as players McClellin could mimic.
3. Khaseem Greene: Special teams is where Greene will have to prove himself. He has to leap a lot of players and some quality talent to get on the field.
1. Tim Jennings: One of the best bargains in the league has been to the Pro Bowl two straight seasons and has 13 interceptions over both years.
2. Kelvin Hayden: A torn hamstring kept Hayden out all last year. He's a solid veteran who provides depth and can make some big plays.
1. Kelvin Hayden: One of the best battles in camp will be between Hayden and Isaiah Frey. Hayden's experience will win out.
2. Isaiah Frey: It was a solid season for the second-year man last year. He has the skill to be a starter, but just needs more experience. Unfortunately for him, he will have to wait another year to get it.
1. Charles Tillman: After all the concern over Tampa Bay signing Tillman, he's back for another season in Chicago and looks to regain his Pro Bowl form after a injury-plagued season last year.
2. Kelvin Hayden: A veteran corner like Hayden can be placed wherever you need him.
3. Sherrick McManis: Special teams is where McManis will thrive. He's a great player on the third unit who makes a ton of plays.
4. C.J. Wilson: Only two games for Wilson last year. Last year's undrafted rookie will push again this year to try to make the team.
1. Chris Conte: The early edge will go to Conte. Yes, he was bad last year, but he is still young and the Bears aren't ready to give up on him. When Conte was at his best, the defensive line was solid and he wasn't in no man's land for too long. The Bears have fixed that, which should help him again.
2. M.D. Jennings: Yes, Jennings was brought in to compete with Conte, but he was actually a worse starter last year. Jennings was a part of a Green Bay Packers safety duo who failed to record an interception.
3. Danny Mccray: Special teams is the lane for Mccray.
1. Ryan Mundy: A hard-hitting attitude is what Mundy will bring to the table. He replaces the very bad Major Wright.
2. Craig Steltz: It has been only one uniform for Steltz in his six seasons in the league. He will continue to provide depth and value on special teams.
3. Sean Cattouse: It's going to be an uphill climb for Cattouse to make this team.
1. Robbie Gould: With a new deal in place, Gould will look to set his sights on the franchise record books. He will be the most prolific kicker in team history when it's all said and done.
1. Drew Butler: A reminder of the past shows up in the form of Butler. His father is former Bears kicker Kevin Butler.
2. Tress Way: Can Way beat out Butler for the job? Will the Bears bring in somebody else?
1. Eric Weems: Even though the Bears brought in Hixon, Weems has to have the early edge in both return roles.
2. Domenik Hixon: If Weems has the early edge, it's not by much. Hixon will have every chance to overtake him.
3. Michael Ford: While he can add value to the kick return game, you don't want Ford returning any punts for you.