There are a few free agents who make considerable sense, including Yannick Ngakoue who does little other than sack opposing quarterbacks. But if the Bears truly wanted Ngakoue, they could have had him by now. That doesn’t mean a free agent signing isn’t in Chicago’s future, but it could mean that Poles and company are seeking better value elsewhere in a trade.
Chicago Bears Central co-host and Bleacher Report contributor Haize on Sunday, May 28, suggested a handful of plays the Bears might be cooking up behind closed doors. Included in his list was a move for defensive end Derek Barnett of the Philadelphia Eagles, a team with more pass rushers than it currently knows what to do with.
Haize’s proposal would see the Bears flip either a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft to the Eagles in exchange for Barnett.
Derek Barnett Has Proven Reliable Contributor for Eagles When Healthy
The Eagles drafted Barnett out of Tennessee with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. When healthy, the defensive end has largely been a reliable performer.
Philadelphia displayed its trust in Barnett’s ability by first picking up his $10 million fifth-year option for the 2021 campaign and then signing him to a three-year deal worth $15.2 million total in March 2022.
Unfortunately for both parties, Barnett suffered a torn ACL in last year’s regular season opener and missed the rest of the campaign in its entirety. The amount of his most recent contract was also likely impacted by the mere 2.0 sacks he achieved during 16 games of action in 2021.
In three of the four campaigns prior to that, however, Barnett tallied between 5.0-6.5 sacks per year. The only season in which he fell shy of that range (2018) was cut significantly short due to injury. Barnett amassed a respectable 14 sacks and 69 quarterback pressures between 2019-21 coming off of that injury-shortened year, per Pro Football Reference.
Derek Barnett Offers Bears High Value at Low Risk
The combined result of Barnett’s recent struggles with both injuries and production, along with the Eagles’ upgrades along the defensive line, equates to a former high-end draft pick with legitimate pass-rushing bonafides who appears gettable for a reasonable price as he enters his age-27 season.
“If he can be healthy, he’s gonna help that pass rush that the Chicago Bears need,” Haize said Sunday. “Now, with the Chicago Bears defense, the interior defensive line kind of matters a little bit more than out on the edge. But … if you can improve that edge position, you wanna do that where you can.”
“I’m really looking at Barnett as kind of that low-risk option. If you want to compare it to something, kind of compare it to a N’Keal Harry-type deal for the Bears last year,” he continued. “If they don’t give up anything high risk — a fourth- [or] fifth-round pick, something like that considering the number of picks they have higher up in that draft — Barnett could be an option.”