For all the criticism the Chicago Bears have received this offseason – particularly with how they’ve handled Justin Fields – they haven’t had a terrible offseason. It hasn’t been spectacular, but it hasn’t been bad either.
Which is a sentiment shared by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, who ranked the Bears near the middle-of-the-pack when it comes to overall offseasons in the NFL. He ranked the Bears 23rd in the league, which sounds about right, all things considered.
Barnwell noted new general manager Ryan Poles came into an impossible situation, where he had to rebuild the roster and had just five draft picks when he arrived. Poles got rid of some massive contracts, including trading Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers, and turned five picks into 11 by draft’s end.
But Barnwell also had his criticisms, including how the Bears have allocated resources to help Fields. Particularly when it comes to the offensive line.
Poles’ hands were tied by the cap situation and the fact that the Bears were down first- and fourth-round picks from last year’s Justin Fields trade. If there’s any place I would have wanted to see them spend money, though, it would have been on protecting their young quarterback. They made a pair of low-cost offensive line moves in signing Lucas Patrick from the Packers and Dakota Dozier from the Vikings, but Fields projects to play behind one of the worst units in football this season.
Instead, the Bears made small moves to sign players at other positions, including Al-Quadin Muhammad, Justin Jones and Byron Pringle, who was subsequently arrested and charged with reckless driving. I’m sure they wanted to add competent veterans on reasonable deals, but in doing so, they lost out on the third-round compensatory pick they would have received when Allen Robinson signed with the Rams.
Poles has taken a conservative approach this offseason, making good on his promise to build through the draft while signing a lot of low-risk, one-year deals. Which hasn’t exactly resulted in splash signings.
When looking to the future, Barnwell expects linebacker Roquan Smith to land a lucrative extension. Smith has emerged as one of the league’s best middle linebackers, and he’s expected to get paid handsomely for it.