Biggest Positions of Need for the Bears Entering 2023 NFL Offseason

Joe TanseyJanuary 25, 2023

Biggest Positions of Need for the Bears Entering 2023 NFL Offseason

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    DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 01: Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears looks on during the second quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on January 01, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bears find themselves in a unique position compared to other franchises that have held the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft recently.

    Chicago already has a franchise quarterback in place in the form of Justin Fields, so it can attack its many other needs in the offseason.

    The Bears would likely go after one of the top defensive stars at the top of the draft, but the talent grab isn't the only mechanism they can use to improve their roster this offseason.

    General manager Ryan Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus and their staffs need to pick out the best options in free agency and on the trade market to bolster a roster that went 3-14 in the 2022 season.

    Adding protection for Fields and skill-position players to work with the quarterback entering his third year should be the offseason goals on offense.

    Defensively, the Bears must replace the production left by Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith in trades over the last year.

    Chicago must do all it can to bolster the group around Fields, but it also needs to add defensive game-changers to keep the Ohio State product on the field as much as possible.

Wide Receiver

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    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 20: Darnell Mooney #11 of the Chicago Bears catches a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool will not win the NFC North for the Bears.

    They are good pieces to have in supporting roles, but they can't be the primary targets for Justin Fields to operate an offense with.

    Mooney failed to impress in the No. 1 wideout role in 2022, as he produced 493 receiving yards in 12 games.

    No Bears wide receiver had more than 500 receiving yards, and tight end Cole Kmet was the team's leading pass-catcher with 50 receptions and 544 yards.

    Claypool, who was acquired before the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Steelers, could be a decent weapon out of the slot, but he is a supporting piece rather than the go-to guy.

    The Bears should try to make a splash in free agency. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Lazard and Jakobi Meyers are among the top WR options on the market.

    If they are not convinced by the free-agent class, they could swing big in a trade for someone like DeAndre Hopkins, but that would cost the team draft capital in an offseason when they need to make upgrades at many other spots.

    The other approach could be to trade down in the order to collect more picks and land one of the top wide receiver prospects in the first round.

    With one or two major playing additions, Mooney, Claypool and Kmet could help the Bears take their offense to the next level.

Offensive Line

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    FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 24: Teven Jenkins #76 of the Chicago Bears lines up before a play during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
    Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    The better free-agent splash could come on the offensive line.

    Chicago needs to give Fields more protection after conceding 55 sacks with him in the backfield in 2022. That figure is unacceptable for any NFL team regardless of its place in the standings.

    The Bears have some decent young pieces on the offensive line, led by Teven Jenkins, but it is nowhere close to being a complete unit.

    They could make a big push to land Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency to shore up the left side of the offensive line. He has been a key piece of the Kansas City offensive line for the last two seasons.

    The 26-year-old is a offensive tackle with five years of experience under his belt and could be a fixture of the offense alongside Fields for years to come.

    The Bears can also look into the draft pool to land a long-term solution on the offensive line. Such a selection seems more likely later in the draft if the Bears stay at No. 1.

    A trade down may not benefit Chicago's chances of landing a premier offensive lineman because Jalen Carter of Georgia and Alabama edge-rusher Will Anderson could be off the board if the Bears move down from the top selection.

Defensive Line

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    INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 9: Jalen Carter #88 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates a big defensive play during a game between Texas Christian Horned Frogs and Georgia Bulldogs at SoFi Stadium on January 9, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
    Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    Chicago has an easy answer to solve its defensive-line issues: It can stay on top of the 2023 draft order and select Jalen Carter out of Georgia.

    The 21-year-old was one of the most ferocious run-stoppers in college football last season, and he would plug a massive hole in the middle of the Bears' defense.

    Chicago's other option is Will Anderson Jr., who could have a similar impact on the pass rush as Khalil Mack did during his time with the franchise.

    The draft seems the most likely vehicle for the Bears to land a game-changer on the defensive line because of the prospects available.

    There is also a scenario in which they trade down to No. 4 with the Indianapolis Colts and still have an opportunity to land Carter or Anderson because quarterbacks tend to be selected in the top three.

    Chicago should have a clear free-agent target in Brown on the offensive line, and a veteran wide receiver may suit Fields better at this stage of his career, so that could leave the draft as the biggest resource to improve the defensive interior.