Bears Adding ‘Elite’ $10 Million Weapon Before Camp ‘Makes a Lot of Sense’

Bears Josh Jacobs CBS

Getty Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Chicago Bears opted against spending big on a running back during the 2023 offseason, adding D’Onta Foreman on a one-year deal and cashing in one of their fourth-round picks on former Texas standout Roschon Johnson. If the Bears are still dissatisfied with their backfield firepower, though, an opportunity to add a premier piece before training camp may have just opened up for them.

On Monday, July 17, the NFL deadline passed for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term contracts with their squads, putting both Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders and Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants in situations where they will either have to play out the 2023 season on their $10.1 million fully guaranteed tags or consider sitting out for the year.

According to Paloma Villicana of Fox 5 News in Las Vegas, Jacobs told her earlier in July that he did not plan on showing up for the Raiders’ training camp without a new deal in place. That would leave Las Vegas with three choices: play chicken with the 2022 NFL rushing leader and hope he shows up, make him available for trade to another team, or rescind the franchise tag and allow him to hit the open market as a free agent.

If one of the latter two happens, according to CBS Sports analyst Bryan DeArdo, the Bears could be interested in the “elite” running back to help take the pressure off of quarterback Justin Fields in 2023 and stabilize their backfield with a sure-fired talent.

“With an NFL-high $32 million in cap space, the Bears have the dough to bring Jacobs to the Windy City,” DeArdo wrote in a story published July 14. “Chicago also has a need at the position after quarterback Justin Fields ran for 342 yards more than the Bears’ second-leading rusher last season. Speaking of Fields, the Bears want to surround their young quarterback with more talented skill players, so the thought of Jacobs ending up in Chicago makes a lot of sense.”

Would Bears Want to Pay Significant Money to Jacobs?

There is no denying that Chicago would be getting a massive upgrade for their backfield if they found a way to add Jacobs in the coming weeks. The 25-year-old running back ran for a league-high 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022, earning first-team All-Pro recognition in the final year of his rookie contract. He also added another 400 yards on 53 receptions, his second straight year with at least 50 catches out of the backfield.

Would Bears general manager Ryan Poles really be willing to fork over the necessary resources to get Jacobs from the Raiders, though? It seems pretty unlikely.

According to Over the Cap, the Bears still have roughly $32 million in cap space for the upcoming season and could stand to add a notable free agent or two before they officially begin training camp on July 26. A veteran edge rusher or offensive tackle would make far more sense for them than a running back at this point, though, even if one of Jacobs or Barkley found his way to the open market due to franchise tag friction.

A trade for Jacobs would make even less sense for the Bears. Even though Khalil Herbert has yet to prove himself as a full-time lead back and Foreman has only short-term ties to the team, there is little reason for the Bears to want to give up draft resources to add another running back — especially one they would have to pay at least $10.1 million.

Poles was also highly complimentary of Johnson when talking about his new rookie back after the conclusion of the 2023 NFL draft, leading some Bears fans to wonder whether Johnson could claim the lead back role before the end of his first season in Chicago.

At this rate, unless a major injury rocks the Bears’ running back room, don’t count on them to make any significant play for another rusher, even a superstar like Jacobs.

Bears Adding an Edge Rusher Still Makes Most Sense

Yannick Jacobs Bears CBS

GettyYannick Ngakoue remains the top potential free agent option for the Bears at defensive end.

Jacobs is one of those high-profile names that is going to be linked to teams without unresolved backfields until his situation is sorted with the Raiders. Anyone who pays close attention to the Bears, however, knows that there is really one position that stands above the rest in terms of roster needs: a veteran pass rusher.

The Bears signed DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green in free agency to give themselves better support against the run on the edges of their defensive line, but they are still lacking a true sack artist for their defensive end spot who could help pull them from the NFL basement in which they dwelled in 2022 (with an NFL-low 20 sacks). While there is a chance the team decides to trust its newcomers alongside returning starters Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson, a safety net could go a long way.

With about a week to go until camp, Yannick Ngakoue is still available and still makes the most sense for the Bears. He has never finished an NFL season with fewer than eight sacks and has recent experience operating in a 4-3 defensive system like the one the Bears have shifted to under head coach Matt Eberflus. While Ngakoue has said he wants to sign a “multi-year deal” with a contender, Poles could always try his hand at persuading him of Chicago’s potential to contend for a title in the next few years.

Other suitable options for the Bears at the edge rusher position include: Justin Houston, Kyle Van Noy, Trey Flowers, Dawuane Smoot and Shelby Harris.

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