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The RoundUp

The Student News Site of Barrington High School

The RoundUp

The Student News Site of Barrington High School

The RoundUp

Five Things the Chicago Bears Need To Do This Off-season

Hyping+up+the+Bears+before+the+game.+Cool+winters+day+in+Chicago+Illinois.+Photo+courtesy+of+U.S._Army_photo_by_Sgt._1st_Clas+
Hyping up the Bears before the game. Cool winters day in Chicago Illinois. Photo courtesy of U.S._Army_photo_by_Sgt._1st_Clas

From a mid-season coaching change to a quarterback injury at a critical point in the season, the Chicago Bears organization has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. The big question is: What’s next? Over the past five NFL seasons, only the Houston Texans have fewer cumulative wins than the Bears, so something isn’t working. With the off-season just around the corner, the Bears need to make some improvements. An organization’s choices under duress define the difference between greatness and failure.

Here are five things the Chicago Bears need to do this offseason to improve the team and get one step closer to that elusive Lombardi Trophy.

1. Re-sign Jaylon Johnson

Jaylon Johnson is one of the premier young talents at defensive back in the NFL. Johnson showed up in a big way during his contract year, being ranked the highest-graded coverage defender (per Pro Football Focus) and allowing a mere 33.3 passer rating when targeted. While his interception numbers won’t immediately jump off the page, likely due to lackluster pass rush the past few seasons, he has proven to be, at minimum, a top-five cornerback in the NFL. With over $46 million in cap space, there is plenty of room to give Johnson a lucrative contract that will likely keep him crushing wide receivers’ dreams at Soldier Field for years to come.

2. Sign a Defensive Lineman In Free Agency

It’s no secret that the Bears need to beef up on the defensive line. Some big-name targets include defensive tackle Chris Jones, edge Bryce Huff, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. The target I like here the most is Madubuike. Madubuike exploded with 13 sacks this season. With Baltimore having a lot of pending free agents, Madubuike might slip through and make his way to free agency, where he can slide into a much-needed 3T spot on the defensive line. Madubuike has also seen snaps at end and even linebacker, bringing a streak of versatility along with his interior skills.

3. Cut Cody Whitehair and Eddie Jackson

I want to preface this by saying that both of these players have had elite careers and made a name for themselves in Chicago and across the league. With  Cody Whitehair approaching 32 years old and racking in over $10 million a year salary, it would behoove Bears’ management to move on to a younger and cheaper option through the upcoming draft. Another player whose time in Chicago is up is Eddie Jackson. Now, at 30 years of age, not only does it feel like Jackson is starting to enter the tail end of his career, which is evident from his slowed production, but he also possesses a pretty hefty contract of $14.6 million a year. Releasing Jackson could save roughly $12 million in cap space, opening up more room for the Bears organization to explore free agency.

4. Keep Justin Fields

This may be controversial, but I will keep Justin Fields for the 2024 season. Fields has had more shortcomings than successes in his relatively short career. However, with the momentum coming off the tail end of the 2023 season, the general vibe that the locker room wants to keep Fields, and the considerably large haul you can get in return for the first overall pick in the draft, I don’t see how you can move on from Fields this year. If the Bears moved on from Fields, it’s likely that they will draft quarterback Caleb Williams out of USC. Williams is extremely talented, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone saying that he is already better than Fields. I don’t see this decision as a question of Fields v. Williams. Williams v. The return you can get for the first overall pick plus Fields. The value the Bears can receive in return for the first pick is too great to pass up on. This organization needs to be patient and work together to put together a team that plays to Fields’ strengths and gives him a chance to genuinely prove himself for at least one more season.

5. Draft Marvin Harrison Jr.

With the Bears not taking Caleb Williams, this is an obvious opportunity to trade down in the draft. I foresee the most likely trade with the Patriots at pick three. That’s where you strike and take a wide receiver in the draft. This is a no-brainer pick for the Bears. The Bears will need another weapon for Justin Fields opposite D.J. Moore. In the past college football season, Marvin Harrison Jr. had over 1,200 receiving yards with a staggering 14 receiving touchdowns. What makes Harrison so dangerous is that he is quite tall at 6′ 4″, but unlike most larger receivers, Harrison has very elite speed and change of direction and has the benefit of great hands. The Bears will be getting a receiver who will be at the top of the stat sheet for many years.

Although Chicago fans have experienced little to no success in any sport for the better half of a decade, rest assured, this Chicago Bears team has potential. With the right free agency and draft, this team can make a sneaky push into the playoffs. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to beat the Packers like the good ol’ days!

 

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Jeremy Linardatos, Staff Writer
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