Roster Holes Bears Must Fill Before Training Camp

Jake RillJuly 11, 2022

Roster Holes Bears Must Fill Before Training Camp

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    During the 2022 season, the Chicago Bears will be looking to surprise some people. Because at this point, it doesn't seem they're likely going to be a playoff contender as they try to rebuild and construct a team that can have sustained success moving forward.

    It's been an offseason of change for Chicago, which hired Ryan Poles to be its general manager and Matt Eberflus to serve as its head coach. The Bears parted with some veteran players, and they should be giving significant snaps to various youngsters in 2022.

    That's why Chicago will likely have an interesting training camp, which is set to open July 26. There could be plenty of position battles taking place, particularly at the positions where there's no clear starter.

    But at some of those spots, the Bears still may want to consider adding players either via free agency or trades. Otherwise, they may struggle close to the way they did in 2021, when they went 6-11.

    With that in mind, here's a look at several of Chicago's biggest roster holes that it may want to consider filling over the next two weeks before camp opens.

Wide Receiver

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    The Bears are hoping that quarterback Justin Fields takes a big step forward during his second NFL season. However, they haven't exactly assembled a receiving corps that has the 23-year-old in the best position to do that.

    Darnell Mooney is Chicago's clear No. 1 wide receiver. But defenses will know that, and he could face plenty of double-teams in 2022. Beyond him, the Bears' other top receiving options are free-agent acquisitions Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown and rookie Velus Jones Jr., a third-round draft pick.

    The unit clearly isn't one of Chicago's strengths, so it may want to consider adding a proven receiver to the mix. Even if the team isn't going to contend in 2022, it could aid Fields' development to give him better options to throw to this season.

    There are plenty of notable wide receivers still on the free-agent market, such as Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Will Fuller V and Emmanuel Sanders. Any of them (or one of the other available receivers) could give the Bears the much-needed boost they need at the position.

Right Guard

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    AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    Chicago's depth at the guard spots was already fairly thin. Then, things got even worse when Dakota Dozier suffered a left leg injury during a minicamp practice last month, which led to him getting placed on injured reserve. It's unclear how long he could potentially be out at this point, but he had been one of the candidates to start at right guard.

    Now, the Bears don't have many proven players to try to fill that spot. One of the front-runners will likely be Sam Mustipher, but he's mostly played center in the past. There are also rookies Zachary Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter, but they were drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively, and likely won't be ready to start at the beginning of the 2022 campaign, if at all.

    Last season, Chicago struggled to protect Fields, and that could be an issue again this year. It may also negatively impact the running game if the Bears aren't able to strengthen their offensive line prior to the start of the regular season.

    Either Chicago should shuffle some players along the offensive line to better fill spots, or it may want to keep an eye out for interior linemen who could get cut over the next two months. Because there aren't a ton of great options currently on the free-agent market, and the Bears may not have enough to offer to swing a trade. But they need to find to fill the hole at right guard one way or another.

Strong-Side Linebacker

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    Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Bears won't always have three linebackers on the field depending on what defensive package they're in. And when they only need two, it's clear who those will be: middle linebacker Roquan Smith and weak-side linebacker Nicholas Morrow.

    But when Chicago uses formations that require three linebackers, it's unclear who will fill the strong-side spot. That also shows the lack of depth that the Bears currently have at the position, which is why they may want to sign a veteran heading into training camp to boost the unit.

    Earlier this offseason, Chicago signed Matthew Adams in free agency, but he's mostly played on special teams during his four-year NFL career. There's also some uncertainty surrounding the status of the 26-year-old, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor firearm possession in Chicago last month.

    If the Bears want to sign a free agent to fill that third linebacker spot, Kwon Alexander is still on the market. If they don't sign him or somebody else, then they'll either have to rely on inexperienced players or minimize the number of times they use three-linebacker sets during games.

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