The Bears started their offseason training program today with 57 players under contract, including backup tight end Jesper Horsted, whose signing was announced earlier Monday. That means GM Ryan Poles still has some significant roster building to do, and it means new head coach Matt Eberflus will have to remain flexible as the front office identifies and signs the players to fill those holes.
The Bears are one of a handful of teams that were allowed to start their offseason programs this week. For Eberflus, it’s a chance to meet his players and schedule meetings with his coordinators and assistants. Of course, the players will get their first experience of working with an entirely new staff.
The focus on Chicago’s first voluntary workouts of the 2022 season will obviously be strength and conditioning. Eberflus will get a chance to see some on-field performances in two weeks when the team holds its first minicamp. The coaching staff and front office will then turn toward finalizing Chicago’s draft board ahead of the April 28-30 event in Las Vegas.
Poles needs to grow the roster to about 90 players, and with only six picks in this year’s draft, that means plenty of signings are coming. Chicago has just over $17 million in cap space so expect a lot of non-guaranteed deals and possibly a trade or two. Nick Foles is rumored to be on the block, but, as Poles has shown, he’s not afraid to make a surprise trade or roster cut. The new GM is expected to be very active in undrafted free agency, and there will be more players available once teams announce their post-June 1 cuts.
As far as impact players, the Bears still have a couple of big holes in the defensive backfield, and they need to find about a half-dozen more offensive linemen and wide receivers. It would be nice if the front office can find good linebacker depth, too. Chicago has six receivers under contract this year (Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Dazz Newsome, Equanimeous St. Brown, Isaiah Coulter, and Nsimba Webster) and two tight ends (Cole Kmet and Horsted). When they reported for training camp last year they had 12 wide receivers and six tight ends.
Expect the front office to leave no stone unturned, and there will be a large contingent of players coming to Chicago by the end of this month. Most won’t be the types of signings Bears fans are hoping for, but Poles is playing the long game right now. It’s not easy to turn over two-thirds of a roster in one spring, which is the task the first-year GM was handed when he was hired two months ago.
Chicago Bears News & Notes
- Four of Chicago’s current 57-man roster are quarterbacks: Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian, Foles, and Ryan Willis.
- Bryan Perez of The Draft Network says Bears fans should expect a number of unprecedented twists and turns as Poles builds his roster.
- Chicago is not projected to pursue any of the remaining premium free agents.
- The Bears are interested in bringing back former return specialist DeAndre Carter.
- The McCaskeys are pleased with the job that Poles and Eberflus have done so far.
- New linebacker Nicholas Morrow might be the perfect blend of speed and patience.
- Texans WR Brandin Cooks is reportedly on the trade block, but he may not be a fit for the Bears.
- George Pickens could be an ideal fit for the Bears if he’s available at No. 39 overall. Pickens would give Fields a true alpha receiver, not unlike what Allen Robinson used to be.
- Christian Watson of NDSU might be the highest-rated receiver on the board when Chicago makes its first selection.
- One mock draft has the Bears trading up to draft Ohio State WR Chris Olave.
- Poles said he’s excited about the prospects that will be available on Day 2 of this year’s draft and that he’s open to exploring ways to accumulate additional picks.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune published his first mock draft and predicted the Bears will select CB Josh Jobe and wide receiver John Metchie III, both from Alabama, with their two second-round picks.
- Khyiris Tonga arrived at Halas Hall looking like he lost 20 pounds while adding muscle.
- Trevis Gipson and Teven Jenkins are excited about the organization’s changes to the coaching staff and front office.
- Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith were among the veteran defensive players in attendance at Monday’s voluntary workout. With Smith, it provided hope he will not hold out and with Jackson, it shows he is ready to get to work to put an ugly season behind him.
There’s a Flag…On the Play
It’s been said Tom Brady has some kind of devil mojo and it’s hard to dispute that.
Could we see Tom Brady & Julio Jones team up in Tampa? 👀 pic.twitter.com/FVeT2TE38l
— PFF (@PFF) April 5, 2022
What do you do if you have more money than you’ll ever need and not many can’t-live-without luxuries? If you’re Aaron Rodgers, you go to Switzerland to learn how to make watches and practice your yodeling.
With a 2022 cap hit that exceeds $31 million, Vikings QB1 Kirk Cousins will carry the 4th-highest cap hit in the NFL. He is outpaced by fellow quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, and Patrick Mahomes.
NFL News & Notes
The Eagles and Saints orchestrated a blockbuster trade that involved nothing but draft picks. New Orleans will receive two 2022 first-round picks (No. 16 and No. 19) and a 2022 sixth-round pick (No. 194) while Philadelphia gets a 2022 first-round pick (No. 18), a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, plus 2022 third-round (No. 101) and seventh-round selections (No. 237) in return.
There are now eight teams that hold multiple first-round picks, and movement is expected to continue at a frenzied pace through the draft.
The latest mock at CBS Sports has the Packers taking wide receivers with both of their first-round picks.
The league’s owners approved a change to overtime rules last week that will ensure both teams will receive an offensive possession in overtime.
Gore is going to become a professional boxer, with his first fight slated to be May 14 in Jackson, MS.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll reportedly called out NFL owners for their failure to hire minority coaches.
Draft preparations are underway on the Las Vegas strip.
Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust
- Gore played a total of 241 games in his career, the most by a running back in NFL history.
- Derrick Henry leads the NFL with 21 100-yard rushing games since 2019.
- Potential first-round draft pick Treylon Burks of Arkansas was tracked on GPS at 22.6 MPH on a 92-yard screen TD last season. He would have been the fastest ball carrier in the NFL last season according to Next Gen Stats.
From the Podium
- “I’m very impressed with how both Ryan [Poles] and Matt [Eberflus] have hit the ground running, getting us off to a good start in 2022. I’m especially impressed with Ryan’s demeanor. Very self-possessed, very confident. Patient. Disciplined.” – George McCaskey
- “When it comes to [Luke] Getsy’s detailed knowledge of both wide receivers and quarterbacks, he has that intricate, detailed fundamentals and technique approach. We’re talking about every little step. And it’s amazing because when you look at Davante Adams‘ growth as a player early on, that’s when Luke was growing too. I think those guys taught each other a lot of stuff.” – Bills head coach Nathaniel Hackett
- “I’m excited to be back. The coaching staff has great energy, the guys coming back have great energy. I think there’s something that just feels different about this year. Being back at Halas Hall for the first day, it’s exciting and energetic, and it feels fun.” – Gipson
- “It kind of felt like the first day of school, when you’re getting a new coach, getting a new strength staff and all that. It was fun introducing myself to a lot of people and getting to meet all the new guys.” – Jenkins
Running Out the Clock
Brick by Brick by The Arctic Monkeys – Poles has torn down and is rebuilding his roster in a painfully slow manner.