The Chicago Bears finished the 2019 season with a disappointing 8-8 record, but their defense continued to play at a high level despite major injuries to key starters like defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and linebacker Danny Trevathan.
One of the primary reasons for the Bears’ continued defensive dominance (they gave up just 18.4 points a game, which was sixth in the NFL) was the emergence of fourth-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who filled in more than a little capably for Trevathan.
The Bears drafted Kwiatkoski in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he started 13 games in his first two seasons, prior to the arrival of 2018 first-round pick, linebacker Roquan Smith. Kwiatkoski was a capable player his first two seasons, but he broke out this year. He had three sacks, a safety, an interception, and a forced fumble in the eight games he started.
His play earned him respect from opponents and teammates alike, and it will also very likely lead to a fat salary bump, as Kwiatkoski is currently the Bears’ most coveted free agent. NFL insider Albert Breer has an interesting prediction about which team will sign Kwiatkoski in 2020 — and it’s not the Chicago Bears.
Breer Thinks Kwiatkoski is About to Cash In
In a segment about the league’s free agents due for hefty pay raises, Breer singled out Kwiatkoski as one of the top prospects at linebacker in this current group of 2020 free agents. He then made a bold prediction about where Kwiatkoski will end up: with his old defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, in Denver:
“Here’s the guy who’d never really gotten the chance to be a full-time starter, then did … at just the right time. The fourth-year former fourth-round pick started Chicago’s final seven games and showed that he can play the middle for someone, and he could get paid after guys like Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert come off the board. And maybe that someone will be his old coordinator, Vic Fangio in Denver.”
The Bears will have to decide between Trevathan, who has a more extensive injury history and will be 30 in March, and Kwiatkoski, who turns 27 this May. While the Bears will likely try to match whatever offer he gets, it will ultimately be up to Kwiatkoski where he lands, and at least one of his former teammates thinks that’s a good thing.
Former Bear Kyle Long on Nick Kwiatkoski: “Kwit Plays His A** Off’
Former Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long chimed in about Kwiatkoski’s free agency status on Twitter Monday, noting the linebacker’s strong work ethic and talent have earned him the right to be a starter in the league. Long then said Kwiatkoski “has EARNED an opportunity to choose his destiny,” and used the hashtag #BiddingWar.
Kwiatkoski then retweeted Long, saying “appreciate it.”
The Bears are fortunate in that should Kwiatkoski decide to leave Chicago, they have a solid, established veteran in Trevathan waiting.