Bears Had Interest in Trade for Eagles $15 Million DE: Report

Derek Barnett, Eagles

Getty Defensive end Derek Barnett, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chicago Bears need to generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, a necessity that isn’t lost on general manager Ryan Poles.

The front office’s latest acknowledgement of the team’s pass-rushing deficiency came in the form of interest in former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett ahead of the NFL’s October 31 trade deadline.

“According to @AdamSchefter, the Chicago Bears were asking about Eagles pass-rusher Derek Barnett before the trade deadline,” Ben Devine posted to X on Monday, November 27. “A good chance [a team claims him] today — possibly by #DaBears.”

Devine was right that a team would claim Barnett, who hit the NFL waiver wire after the Eagles released him last week. However, it was the Houston Texans who added the former first-round pick, not the Bears. The Miami Dolphins also put in a waiver claim for Barnett, per Field Yates of ESPN.

Philadelphia selected Barnett in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft (No. 14 overall). He signed a three-year, $15.2 million extension with the Eagles in March 2022, playing out just over half of that contract prior to his release last week.

Bears Defense Producing Fewest Sacks in NFL for 2nd Straight Season

Yannick Ngakoue, Bears

GettyDefensive end Yannick Ngakoue of the Chicago Bears.

The crop of free agent pass-rushers isn’t much to speak of this deep into the season, though Melvin Ingram remains unsigned if the Bears are still interested in adding some help on the edge.

However, Chicago’s interest in Barnett points more to the likelihood that the franchise will pursue a high-end pass-rusher in the 2024 NFL Draft. The team signed defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to a one-year, $10.5 million deal late in the offseason, but the sack specialist has disappointed.

Ngakoue had tallied just 3.0 sacks in 11 games heading into the Bears’ Monday Night Football matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Now an eight-year veteran and one-time Pro Bowler, Ngakoue has never finished a season with fewer than 8.0 sacks, though he is on track for a career-low in that department in 2023.

Chicago also traded its 2024 second-round pick to the Washington Commanders for Montez Sweat then extended him on a four-year, $98 million deal.

Chicago had amassed just 15 sacks as a team heading into Week 12, which ranked them dead-last in the NFL in that category. The Bears also finished last in the league in 2022 with just 20 sacks on the season.

Bears Positioned to Land Elite Edge-Rusher in Upcoming NFL Draft

Jared Verse

GettyEdge-rusher Jared Verse of the Florida State Seminoles is a first-round prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus ranked five edge defenders among the top-18 prospects in the coming NFL Draft. Heading into Week 12, the Bears owned the rights to the No. 4 pick (their own) and the No. 1 overall pick via a trade with the Carolina Panthers ahead of the 2023 draft, per Tankathon.

Chicago has a wide range of options if they end up with two selections in the top-5, and landing an elite pass-rusher is a likely outcome even in trade-down scenarios.

Laiatu Atu of UCLA (6), Chop Robinson of Penn State (11) and Jared Verse of Florida State (13) are the top-3 prospects at the position, according to Sikkema.

Latu has the best pass-rush profile of any edge rusher in the 2024 class. His hand usage, reaction time and first-step athleticism are first-round caliber in all categories.

Robinson is the most twitched-up pass-rusher in the 2024 class. He’s still developing his pass-rush profile in terms of moves and counters, but his first-step explosiveness and speed-to-power abilities are rare. Those alone make him a first-round target.

No player in college football has elevated their stock more over the past two seasons than Verse, who went from the FCS to a first-round talent. He’s a weight-room warrior who forces offensive linemen to use all their strength to stay in front of him.

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