Bears Hosting Former Vikings Starting Pass Rusher for Visit: Report

D.J. Wonnum

Getty Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears is sacked by D.J. Wonnum.

The Chicago Bears didn’t add any of the top-tier pass rushers available in the first wave of free agency, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eyeing some intriguing prospects.

According to NFL Network insider Cameron Wolfe, former Minnesota Vikings edge D.J. Wonnum is scheduled to visit the Carolina Panthers on March 13 before heading to visit the Bears on March 14.

One of the top priorities for Chicago this offseason is adding another pass rusher to pair with Montez Sweat, who led the team with 6.0 sacks last season.

It’s unclear if the Bears would want Wonnum to be a starter opposite Sweat, or whether he’d be a rotational player, but he’d likely have a large role considering his recent history.

What Would Chicago Bears Be Getting in Edge Rusher D.J. Wonnum?

A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina for the Vikings in 2020 (No. 117 overall), Wonnum has played in 62 games over his four years in the league, starting 31.

At 6’5″ and 258 pounds, Wonnum is still young — he’s 26 — and he has been durable, never missing more than two games in any of his four seasons. PFF has him projected to sign a two-year deal for $12 million, which would be affordable.

While he has been healthy since entering the league, Wonnum did suffer a partially torn quad Week 16 against the Detroit Lions. He ended the season on injured reserve as a result. Thus, his health will be a huge factor in whether or not the Bears try to sign him.

In 15 games with the Vikings last season (14 starts), Wonnum had 62 total tackles (7 for loss), 15 quarterback hits, 8.0 sacks, 6 passes defensed and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He also had 23 hurries, per PFF.

Wonnum played 83% of the Vikings’ defensive snaps last season, and he has played over 51% of Minnesota’s snaps on defense every year. He would probably play 65%-70% of the time if he landed in Chicago.

“I think you see him and DeMarcus Walker rotate in the lineup,” Windy City Gridiron’s Jacob Infante wrote about Wonnum on X. “That’s about $13 million between the two, plus what you’re paying for Montez Sweat.”

What His Former Teammates Had to Say

Wonnum was well-respected in his four seasons with the Vikings.

“D.J.’s always had this in him,” former Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter told the Star Tribune about Wonnum’s 8.0 sack performance last season. “It’s just opportunities. He’s learning and adapting as a player. He now understands what he’s able to do. He’s learning how to adjust to what guys are doing to him. He’s come a long way.”

“Ever since D.J. got here, he’s always been a playmaker when he’s been asked to step up,” Vikings safety Harrison Smith added.

Bears Still Have Several Options at Pass Rusher

The Bears could very well add an edge in the upcoming draft, with Dallas Turner, Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu prospects who could potentially be available to them at No. 9.

If they pass on Wonnum, there’s also a few free agents worth considering, including Chase Young and Derek Barnett. There will also be several players who become salary cap casualties. The Los Angeles Chargers alone have both Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, and one of those two, if not both, is likely going to be released due to hefty salaries.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles is likely being patient to see which players wind up getting cut. We’ll see how it goes with Wonnum, though. He’s clearly a player to keep an eye on.