After what can only be described as a disappointing 2019 campaign, the Chicago Bears will look to make multiple improvements to their roster this offseason. While much talk about the Bears revolves around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the team is also in need of several key position players that could take this team to the next level.
While the Bears certainly don’t have room in their budget to sign all of the following free agents listed here, they could — and should — go after at least a few of them. Here are five players Bears’ GM Ryan Pace should take a long, hard look at acquiring this offseason.
Anthony Costonzo, Left Tackle, Indianapolis Colts
Costonzo will be arguably the most coveted offensive lineman of the 2020 free agent class, and with good reason. He was a first-round pick for the Colts in 2011, and he has been a stalwart staple on their offensive line ever since. He is 31-years old, and he has proven to be both durable and effective, missing just 12 games in his nine seasons.
Stampede Blue has his next contract projected to be a four-year deal for $69.2 million with $42.25 million guaranteed. This would be a bit steep for the Bears, although not entirely impossible if some trades and other adjustments were made. The Bears will likely part ways with Kyle Long and veteran corner Prince Amukamara, and offensive line will be a major area they’ll be looking to address. If they don’t look at a few avenues that may allow them to pursue Costonzo, they’re not doing their due diligence.
Austin Hooper, Tight End, Atlanta Falcons
The Bears suffered greatly from lack of tight end production this season. Trey Burton spent most of the season dealing with multiple injuries, and former second-round pick Adam Shaheen is widely considered a bust, and will very likely not be on the roster next season.
Hooper is finishing his fourth season with the Falcons, and he has had a career year. He has 742 yards receiving and six touchdowns in 12 games this season. According to Spotrac, Hooper should command around $10 million a year when he gets a new contract in 2020, and while they are currently shelling out $8 million to Trey Burton, the Bears could certainly make room for Hooper, particularly considering their need at the position.
Greg Robinson, Left Tackle, Cleveland Browns
Robinson’s one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Browns is about to end, and he will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Whether the Browns bring him back remains a huge question mark in Cleveland, but if the Bears don’t want to pay top dollar to Costonzo, Robinson could be a solid veteran option that would provide their o-line with some much-needed depth.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Kansas City Chiefs
Ogbah led the Chiefs in sacks before going down with a season-ending pectoral injury. Prior to his injury this season, Ogbah started 40 games with the Cleveland Browns, and he is a former first-round pick. He had 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble this season before going down with the pectoral injury.
Some think Ogbah will command $8-10 million a year in free agency next year, which is also doable for the Bears. Kansas City could look to retain him, but he would be an intriguing option on this solid Bears defense.
Ronald Darby, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles recently placed Darby on the season-ending injured reserve list with a hip injury, but the Bears should take a good long look at Darby if he remains a free agent in 2020. Darby made $6.5 million this season, and at 26, he would add immediate youth in the secondary for the Bears if they choose not to resign Prince Amukamara.
Darby has two interceptions and 11 pass defenses this season, and he would be a better option than other free agent corners like Eli Apple, but a cheaper one than, say, Marcus Peters. At the very least, Ryan Pace should think about adding him to the roster next season.