The Chicago Bears roster is a construction project that is ahead of schedule but remains in dire need of a cornerstone on defense.
Edge rusher is a position of critical need and one the Bears could address long-term in the upcoming NFL Draft. That said, the rebuilding process in Chicago is going to take more than one offseason, regardless of how expertly general manager Ryan Poles appears to have navigated it thus far. If the team doesn’t find the right answer in the draft, it could look to bridge the gap on the edge by inking a free agent to a one- or tw0-year deal.
Kenneth Davis of the Under Center: Chicago Bears Podcast suggested such an agreement on Wednesday, April 5, while answering a mail bag question about the one player he’d like to see the Bears pursue this offseason.
Clowney Poised For Bounce-Back After Injury-Riddled Season
Clowney is a defender with a serious resumé who can offer the Bears real production at meaningful value.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2014, Clowney will play his 10th NFL season in 2023 at the age of 30. He is a three-time Pro Bowler with one second-team All-Pro nod in his past. He played the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns on one-year contracts worth $8 million and $10 million, respectively.
His first campaign with Cleveland was a rousing success, as Clowney produced nine sacks and 32 quarterback pressures in 14 games played, per Pro Football Reference. His production dipped in 2022 as he dealt with an array of lingering injuries and appeared in just 10 games. Clowney logged two sacks and 12 quarterback pressures in those appearances.
However, Clowney has shown the ability to bounce back from down years in the past and remains young and potent enough to offer Chicago what it is still missing along the defensive line.
Bears Can Ink Clowney to Value Contract With Team Control
Clowney turned down multi-year contracts worth up to $15 million annually last season to stay in Cleveland because it was his preferred destination, per a report from Nick Shook of NFL Network.
The defensive end won’t command that kind of salary after an underachieving year characterized by injury, but his value lines up with the kind of deal the Bears will be looking for on the edge if they don’t go after a premium player at the position in the draft.
Chicago should be able to sign Clowney for one or two seasons with an out after 2023, while Clowney should be looking for a short-term contract on a team where he can start and pump up his value for one final NFL pay day in his early 30s.
If the Bears can’t find common ground with Clowney, another similar option is 34-year-old pass rusher Justin Houston who put up 9.5 sacks and 25 quarterback pressures for the Baltimore Ravens last season.