Bears Working ‘Trade Options’ to Potentially Add Veteran DE

Bears Poles Trade Options DE

Getty Chase Young could be one of the top trade targets on the market for the Bears at edge rusher.

The Chicago Bears are making no secrets about their interest in possibly trading for a veteran defensive end before the start of 2023 training camp.

During his May 12 guest appearance on 670 The Score’s Bernstein & Holmes Show, Bears general manager Ryan Poles was asked directly if he planned on signing a veteran pass rusher to their 90-man offseason roster and, unprompted, brought up how there are “potentially trade options” who could help them address their needs at the position.

“We’re working on it, we don’t stop working and looking at different avenues to bring players in,” Poles said Friday. “There are some options, potentially trade options. There’s also some guys on the street still that can potentially come in and help us. We’re kind of looking at everything right now, maybe something will happen sooner rather than later.”

The Bears have been expected to make a veteran addition at defensive end ever since walking away from the 2023 NFL draft without selecting one, but Poles’ mention of “trade options” suggests Chicago is cooking up ideas beyond simply signing the best fit still available in free agency. While the Bears could find a short-term fix on the open market, a trade could give them an opportunity to find a long-term solution off the edge.

Which Edge Rushers Could Bears Target With Trade?

Poles’ comments might have confirmed the Bears are open to the possibility of adding a pass rusher through a trade, but figuring out which candidates could interest them is still no easy task. Part of the puzzle is there are veterans on rosters right now who could become cap casualties in the coming months as teams figure out their post-draft talent. As was the case with D.J. Moore, too, there aren’t often a ton of outward signs that signal a team is willing to trade away a specific player until the deal goes down.

Even still, there are a few situations around the league that could interest the Bears.

One of the biggest pass-rushing names linked to trade rumors is Washington’s Chase Young. The Commanders declined Young’s 2024 fifth-year option after the former No. 2 overall pick spent the majority of the past two seasons injured. They have also signed big-money extensions with defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne over the past two offseasons, which could make them think twice about making another high-priced investment in their defensive line with Young.

If the Bears are comfortable taking a chance on Young despite his injury troubles, the Commanders could most likely be persuaded to speed up his inevitable departure.

The Commanders also have another edge rusher — Montez Sweat — set to play on his fifth-year option in 2023 before seeking a new contract next offseason. The trade logic with Sweat is similar to Young; the Commanders — who do not have a clear solution at the quarterback position — are going to have to decide if they want to make three expensive investments in their defensive line and, if not, consider moving one of their current guys on expiring contracts for the sake of gaining draft capital. Young seems more likely, but Sweat would likely fetch a higher price from an acquiring team since he is more consistent both in terms of his play and his ability to stay on the field.

Washington isn’t the only potential trade source for edge rushers, though. The Houston Texans — who traded up to No. 3 overall to select Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. last month — could be interested in seeing what they could get for 2020 third-rounder Jonathan Greenard now that he is expected to slip on their depth chart. The Miami Dolphins could also shop 29-year-old Emmanuel Ogbah with him slotted as the third edge rusher behind Bradley Chubb and 2021 first-rounder Jaelan Phillips.

What Non-Trade Options Exist for the Bears in 2023?

Poles has proven to be a general manager who isn’t afraid to explore all avenues for acquiring talent. He has pulled off three wide receiver trades — N’Keal Harry, Chase Claypool and D.J. Moore — and a bevy of draft deals over his first 16 months in charge. He has also tossed around some big money to get key free agents, most recently inking linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a four-year, $72 million deal back in March. Put simply, if he decides adding a veteran edge rusher is necessary, it is expected he will go to great lengths to get a deal done for someone he believes can address the need.

Is a trade the best option for the Bears, though?

The Bears still have several notable veterans on the free agent market who could help them boost their depth at defensive end. Yannick Ngakoue is an oft-discussed option due to his consistent sack production (no fewer than eight sacks per season over his career) and familiarity playing in a 4-3 system like Matt Eberflus’ in Chicago. Frank Clark and former Bear Leonard Floyd are also still available and have the experience that would be valuable to the position group.

It is also entirely possible the Bears feel comfortable enough with their current group to head into the season without more meaningful veteran reinforcements. They added DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green during free agency to a group that was already set to return 2022 starters Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson, meaning the unit should be an upgrade from last year’s miserable state. Is it the improvement in talent that everyone was expecting the Bears to make at the edges? Not really, but Poles has been transparent about their rebuilding plans taking multiple years and could be more interested in seeing how they perform with an improved interior defensive line.

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