The Bears have a lot to do this offseason with a new coaching staff and general manager now in charge. According to Over the Cap, the Bears have a projected cap space of $28.6 million. They also have 36 unrestricted free agents on the horizon.
Only eight of the 36 played major snaps. With all of the players signed by Ryan Pace, there’s a big possibility Ryan Poles won’t bring back any of its free agents.
Chicago will also have high expectations for the next season, especially considering Justin Fields will be playing in a whole new offense in his sophomore year. Here are a few free agents the Bears might splurge on during the free agency season to enhance their squad and put them back in contention for the playoffs.
Akiem Hicks – Defensive Tackle
Akiem Hicks is a tad bigger than Eberflus would like from his conventional defensive lineman. When he’s healthy, though, no one can deny that Hicks is one of the most dominant players on the field as well as being a tremendously athletic player for his stature.
Since he’s missed 20 games due to different ailments over the previous three years, there are valid concerns about his durability. Last season, it appeared like Hicks was bidding his goodbyes to Chicago, but with new management in place, the Bears and Hicks could be able to work out a new deal.
D.J. Chark – Wide Receiver
D.J. Chark is a player to watch since he’s the type of threat who can help the offense expand the field and complement Mooney. Chark possesses the ideal combination of size, speed, and big-play potential for a rookie quarterback. He’d be the vertical threat this offense has needed since the days of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
Chark, who broke his ankle in October, may cost around $12 million per year. The Bears, on the other hand, should not be discouraged from pursuing Chark. Justin Fields and this offense are in serious need of playmakers after Allen Robinson‘s poor season.
Quandre Diggs – Safety
Takeaways are a priority for Matt Eberflus and his defense, and Quandre Diggs has been among the best and most consistent ballhawks in the NFL during his career. Diggs intercepted five passes in each of the previous two seasons, and three passes in each of the three seasons before that. Diggs was most recently with Pete Carroll‘s 4-3 defensive, so he should fit right in with Eberflus’ unit.
Another reason is since the departure of Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson hasn’t been his normal self. The Bears thought they could get someone of equal value in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but that did not work out. The Bears also brought in Tashaun Gipson for the past two years, but in 2021 he had a 53.9 PFF rating, also Gipson had 29 targets and allowed 22 catches. Getting a guy like Quandre Diggs would be a huge boost for this team, who has some question marks at cornerback.
Andrew Norwell – Offensive Guard
During the 2021 NFL season, no team yielded more sacks than the Bears at 58. The offensive line must be overhauled if the team wants Fields to thrive. Andrew Norwell, an offensive guard, could be able to help. On 1,078 offensive snaps with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, the former All-Pro tackle allowed only three sacks.
He’s also a proven starter, having started in each of his 112 career games but one. Many successful teams start with their offensive line, which is why the Bears should not be afraid to spend big on someone like Norwell. The Bears could lose out on James Daniels, and Norwell is someone whom they can plug and play with right away.
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