Bears Likely to ‘Explore’ Adding DPOY Candidate to Pair With Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat

Getty Montez Sweat of the Chicago Bears.

Imagine a Chicago Bears defensive line with both Montez Sweat and Danielle Hunter staring down opposing quarterbacks.

In his November 28 column, Bears insider Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune named the current Minnesota Vikings pass rusher as a top player to watch for Chicago in free agency next offseason.

The Bears sent a 2024 second-round draft pick to the Washington Commanders in exchange for Sweat on October 31. Chicago subsequently signed him to a $100 million extension. Regardless, Biggs thinks the Bears and general manager Ryan Poles will still pursue Hunter.

“I’m not sure the Bears want to sink big money into another edge rusher after trading for Sweat and extending him, but it’s something Poles and his staff will have to explore. Why? Adding Sweat to upgrade the defensive line was just the beginning. The Bears need a second threat off the edge to take the next step on defense,” Biggs wrote.

Bears Have the 2024 Cap Space to Make Significant Moves

The Bears are set to have just under $84 million in cap space next offseason, and that’s with Sweat’s contract on the books. Chicago can still afford to re-sign pending free agents like cornerback Jaylon Johnson and wide receiver Darnell Mooney while also adding a top-tier player or two.

Would they be willing to shell out major ducats for another pass rusher? That’s the only question. Hunter isn’t just another pass rusher, though.

The veteran defensive end, who turned 29 in October, currently leads the NFL in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (18) and is an obvious Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

The three-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year, $17 million deal with Minnesota heading into the season, with an amendment that the team would not franchise or transition tag him the following year. Thus, Hunter is heading into free agency next offseason, and he’s about to get paid, big time. Over the Cap has his projected value at around $30 million per season.

“Keep Hunter in mind. Provided he remains healthy, he will be a hot commodity. I don’t know what the Bears’ motivation will be to spend on another edge rusher. I do believe it has to be discussed,” Biggs added.

Hunter will likely use Sweat’s four-year, $98 million deal ($24.5 million average per season) as a jumping point to start his next contract negotiations.

Danielle Hunter & Montez Sweat Would Give Bears Scary Pass Rush Duo

Since coming to Chicago, Sweat has 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and six QB hits in four games. This season, Sweat has amassed 39 tackles ( 12 for loss), 9.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and 17 QB hits.

In 12 starts and 13.5 sacks with Minnesota this season, Hunter has 60 tackles (18 for loss), 17 QB hits and four forced fumbles.

“Add Hunter and all of a sudden the Bears would have a new version of Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn — with a younger and more consistent version of Quinn,” Biggs wrote.

Quinn broke the Bears’ all-time single-season sack record with 18.5 in 2021, and he and Mack were a formidable pair for a few years. Over their two seasons playing together in Chicago in 2020 and 2021, Quinn and Mack amassed 35.5 sacks.

Thinking about what a pairing of Sweat and Hunter could bring to Chicago’s defense is as intriguing as it gets. The Bears are currently last in the NFL with 17 sacks through the first 13 weeks. Sweat has unquestionably given the team’s pass rush a boost, and there’s no doubt adding a healthy Hunter to the mix would give the D-line a new feel entirely.

According to Biggs, it’s a definite possibility. Stay tuned.

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