The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. There is very little day to day NFL news aside from random minor transactions across the league and conversations about where/when this star player will be traded. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. Baseball is gearing up for a long, hot summer. The dog days of Summer are upon us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look down the line at what else the coming summer months hold for us: Training Camp and the NFL preseason. Which leads us to a new feature here on The Grueling Truth – The State Of The League. We will be going over all 32 teams’ offseasons, division by division: their player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. We begin our offseason review of the NFC North with the Chicago Bears.
Chicago Bears Pre-Training Camp Projected Depth Chart
|QB||Andy Dalton||Justin Fields|
|RB1||David Montgomery||Damien Williams|
|RB2||Tarik Cohen||Khalil Herbert|
|WR1||Allen Robinson||Marquise Goodwin|
|WR2||Darnell Mooney||Dazz Newsome|
|WR3||Damiere Byrd||Anthony Miller|
|TE1||Cole Kmet||J.P. Holtz|
|TE2||Jimmy Graham||Jake Butt|
|LT||Teven Jenkins||Elijah Wilkinson|
|LG||James Daniels||Arlington Hambright|
|RG||Cody Whitehair||Alex Bars|
|RT||Germain Ifedi||Larry Borom|
|DL||Akiem Hicks||Angelo Blackson|
|NT||Eddie Goldman||Mike Pennel|
|DL||Bilal Nichols||Mario Edwards|
|OLB||Khalil Mack||Trevis Gipson|
|ILB||Roquan Smith||Christian Jones|
|ILB||Danny Trevathan||Joel Iyiegbuniwe|
|OLB||Robert Quinn||Jerry Attaochu|
|CB1||Jaylon Johnson||Kindle Vildor|
|CB2||Desmond Trufant||Artie Burns|
|CB3||Duke Shelley||Thomas Graham Jr.|
|FS||Eddie Jackson||DeAndre Houston-Carson|
|SS||Tashaun Gipson||Deon Bush|
*BOLD player name = Rookie*
Chicago Bears 2021 NFL Draft Class
Round 1 (11th overall): QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Round 2 (39th): OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Round 5 (151st): OT Larry Borom, Missouri
Round 6 (217th): RB Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech
Round 6 (221st): WR Dazz Newsome, North Carolina
Round 6 (228th): CB Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon
Round 7 (250th): DL Khyiris Tonga, BYU
Chicago Bears Offseason Player Personnel Moves
|Player||Position||Age||2020 Team||2021 Team||Info / Notes|
|Player||Position||Age||2020 Team||2021 Team||Acquired via|
|Elijah Wilkinson||G/T||26||DEN||CHI||Free Agency|
|Jeremiah Attaochu||OLB||28||DEN||CHI||Free Agency|
|Damien Williams||RB||29||KC||CHI||Free Agency|
|Andy Dalton||QB||34||DAL||CHI||Free Agency|
|Desmond Trufant||CB||30||DET||CHI||Free Agency|
|Christian Jones||LB||30||DET||CHI||Free Agency|
|Angelo Blackson||DL||29||ARZ||CHI||Free Agency|
|Marquise Goodwin||WR||31||SF||CHI||Free Agency|
|Damiere Byrd||WR||28||NE||CHI||Free Agency|
|Mike Pennel||DT||30||KC||CHI||Free Agency|
|Austin Calitro||ILB||27||DEN||CHI||Free Agency|
|Jake Butt||TE||26||DEN||CHI||Free Agency|
|Adam Redmond||C||28||DAL||CHI||Free Agency|
|Player||Position||Age||2020 Team||2021 Team||Departed via|
|Mitchell Trubisky||QB||27||CHI||BUF||Free Agency|
|Roy Robertson-Harris||DT||28||CHI||JAX||Free Agency|
|Barkevious Mingo||OLB||31||CHI||ATL||Free Agency|
|Brent Urban||DE||30||CHI||DAL||Free Agency|
|Rashaad Coward||G||27||CHI||PIT||Free Agency|
|Deandre Carter||WR||28||CHI||WSH||Free Agency|
|John Jenkins||DT||32||CHI||MIA||Free Agency|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||WR/RB||30||CHI||ATL||Free Agency|
|Eddy Pineiro||K||26||CHI||IND||Free Agency|
|Player||Position||Age||2020 Team||2021 Team||Info / Notes|
|Allen Robinson||WR||28||CHI||CHI||*Franchise Tag*|
Chicago Bears Offseason Review
The clock is ticking on head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. There have been some interesting changes in the Windy City this offseason, including a new defensive coordinator after the retirement of Chuck Pagano, a whole new defensive coaching staff, and the drafting of a new franchise quarterback. Pace infamously traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky back in the 2017 NFL Draft instead of taking Deshaun Watson or Pat Mahomes. Four years later, Trubisky went to Buffalo on a one year backup free agent deal, and Chicago traded up again for another potential future franchise QB. Nagy and Pace both know they probably won’t survive another mediocre season, and backing into the playoffs won’t be good enough.
Daaaa Bears signed free agent quarterback Andy Dalton before the NFL Draft, and declared he would be the starter. Even after drafting Justin Fields 11th overall, the team stuck by the idea that pending injury, Dalton would be the starting quarterback to start the season. Dalton is a fine placeholder, and he showed he could be at the very least an average starter last season in Dallas in place of the injured Dak Prescott. Chicago has less proven weapons and a worse offensive line, so we shall see just how good this team is with Dalton behind center. It is only a matter of time before we see Fields as the QB1. Fields was once considered to likely be the 2nd quarterback off the board come draft time after Trevor Lawrence. By the time it was all said and done, however, not only was Fields not the 2nd QB off the board, but he wasn’t even the 3rd QB taken. Teams fell in love with other passers as the pre-draft trail went on, but his combination of arm strength, accuracy, and athleticism (4.46 40 yard dash at Ohio State’s pro day) made him one of the top prospects in this draft class. It’s still crazy to me that all the love Zach Wilson and Trey Lance got leading up to the draft caused people to seemingly forget that Fields was one of the top players in the nation while in college football the past two seasons.
Chicago also made changes to the offensive line, and added much needed deep speed at receiver. The offensive line definitely needed some retooling, but it was a curious decision to cut former starting left tackle Charles Leno. Leno was an average to above average left tackle for da Bears, and has started every game for the team since 2015. Chicago was able to release him because they drafted his replacement in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected Teven Jenkins. Jenkins is a big, nasty tackle who could’ve (should’ve?) been a first round pick. He allowed only four QB pressures all season, and doesn’t have many weaknesses to his game. The rest of the offensive line returns mostly intact, with James Daniels coming back from injury to start at one guard spot and Germain Ifedi slated to start at right tackle. The coaching staff would love for 5th round pick Larry Borom to emerge at some point this season as a legit starting option at right tackle. The offensive line could be a big time weakness, so it will be a unit to watch. At receiver, Allen Robinson is the alpha WR1 of the group, and Darnell Mooney looked like a legit potential WR2, but depth was needed with Anthony Miller not developing and deep speed being a need for years. Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd came in as free agent signings to fill that need for speed, with Byrd emerging from minicamp as the favorite to fill that role heading into training camp.
The defensive side of the ball didn’t go through as many changes, but they will have a couple of new starters in the secondary, and will be looking to continue being the strength of this team. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid, and missed mandatory minicamp. The team expects him to return for training camp, and he would be a huge boost to this entire defense. Goldman is stout against the run, is able to occupy blockers, and can even supply some inside pass rush. Chicago signed some rotational pieces for their front seven in free agency like Attaochu, Jones, and Blackson, but Mike Pennel could find himself starting if Goldman doesn’t report to camp. The secondary saw the biggest changes, where the team cut ties with starters Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine. There will be two new starters – one at outside corner opposite Jaylon Johnson, and one in the slot. Da Bears signed Desmond Trufant after he was released by Detroit, and they hope he will be healthy and lock up the outside starting spot. Trufant played in only six games last season for Detroit due to injuries, and has only played in 15 games the past two years. His biggest competition on the outside for playing time will be Kindle Vildor, with the loser relegated to backup duties. The slot competition after minicamp looks to be between Duke Shelley and rookie 6th rounder Thomas Graham Jr., and may very well last through training camp and the preseason.
Daaaa Bears are a team that on paper look more like a building team than one ready to compete for a division title, but with the heat on the front office and coaching staff, they have no choice but to go for it. The biggest storyline will undoubtedly be when star rookie QB Fields will take over for Dalton. Nagy is calling plays again, so there will be added pressure on him should the offense sputter early. Going 8-8 probably won’t save Nagy and Pace, and everyone else in the NFC North dealing with their own issues, but this is definitely a work in progress.
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