The Chicago Bears could be on the verge of locking up one of their top young edge rushers, according to multiple league sources.
Trevis Gipson, 25, enters the final year of his contract with the opportunity to take a major step forward.
“They like him a lot,” a league source with knowledge of the Bears’ thinking told Heavy, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. “That’s why they drafted interior help rather than taking an EDGE rusher.”
This spring, the Bears invested three draft picks in interior linemen; Florida defensive lineman Gervon Dexter in the second round, South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens in the third round, and Kennesaw State’s Travis Bell in the seventh round. That Chicago didn’t take an edge rusher should be considered an endorsement of how the decision-makers inside Halas Hall feel about Gipson.
Gipson remains atop the Bears’ defensive end depth chart, despite posting just 3.0 sacks with 30 quarterback pressures in 2022, but part of his dip in production can be credited to it being his first year in a new scheme.
The former Tulsa standout, chosen in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft has produced 10.0 sacks and 75 total tackles, with 11 tackles for loss, through the first three seasons of his career. With Robert Quinn traded away to the Philadelphia Eagles down the stretch last season, the opportunity is there for Gipson to bounce back, in a big way, in 2023.
There is a belief in league circles that The Bears could be prepared to sign Gipson to a big-money contract extension, if he bounces back this fall.
“I’d think if he can get somewhere between 7.0 and double-digit sacks,” said a source,” that should be enough to get a deal done.
Can Trevis Gipson Bounce Back for Chicago Bears?
During a standout 2021 campaign, Gipson made a living in opposing backfields.
That season, Pro Football Focus awarded Gipson an 87.0 pass-rush grade, as he logged a career-high 10 sacks with 27 total quarterback pressures.
When the Bears dealt Quinn away last season, teams were able to double-team Gipson at a significantly higher rate. Despite drawing more double-teams, Gipson still recorded a 15.3 pass-rush win rate in 2022.
The fact that opposing offenses double-teamed Gipson nearly as often as the likes of Za’Darius Smith and Aidan Hutchinson, underscores just how impactful he is as a pass-rusher.
After Chicago spent big in free agency, adding linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, which should make the Bears’ defense more disruptive up the middle, Gipson could see fewer double-teams and more opportunities to wreak havoc in the backfield.
If Gipson in fact bounces back, the Bears could back up their commitment to him in a big way.
Bears QB Justin Fields Turning Heads
No player is more important to the trajectory of the Chicago Bears than Justin Fields.
As Fields enters his second season in Luke Getsy’s scheme, expectations are high for the young quarterback who completed a career-high 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,242 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
After the Bears bolstered Fields’ supporting cast by pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers to move back in the NFL Draft, acquiring dynamic wide receiver D.J. Moore as part of the package, there’s a belief inside the league that Fields is primed for a 2023 breakout.
Just ask Fields’ fellow Ohio State alum, and current Washington Commanders edge rusher Chase Young.
“You’ve got to understand, I’ve seen Justin since he transferred into Ohio State,” Young said on Heavy Sports’ The Matt Lombardo Show, appearing on behalf of New Balance. “He ran a 4.37 [40-yard dash], and everyone was blown away. He’s a hard worker, he pays attention to detail, and he wants to be great. You can’t really teach that.”
Fields showed significant growth as a passer last season, while also repeatedly making plays as a runner, emerging as one of the more electrifying dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL, rushing for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns.
Following a strong commitment from general manager Ryan Poles and the front office to build around Fields, the stage could be set for the 24-year-old to lift the Bears into contention this fall.