Bears Eyeing Pass-Rushing Help

The Bears entered free agency with a significant cap-space edge on the rest of the league. They pursued Mike McGlinchey and added Nate Davis, but linebacker — via the top-five ILB contract they gave Tremaine Edmunds and the addition of T.J. Edwards — represented the team’s primary focus on this year’s market.

But the Bears looked into splashier additions on their defensive line. Chicago pursued the top D-linemen on this year’s market, Adam Jahns of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Defensive tackle featured higher-end talent compared to edge rusher, with the likes of Javon Hargrave (49ers), Dre’Mont Jones (Seahawks) and Zach Allen (Broncos) each going for at least $15MM per year. Hargrave went to San Francisco on a contract — four years, $84MM — that ties for the third-highest AAV among interior D-linemen.

Edge rusher did not supply as many options, but most of the top edges available at free agency’s outset remain unattached. Yannick Ngakoue, Frank Clark and ex-Bears first-rounder Leonard Floyd are available, along with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram. The Bears do not profile as a 2023 contender, making a hired gun-type veteran less logical. But the team, which did sign hybrid D-lineman DeMarcus Walker, is looking for more help at the position.

While the Bears should not be ruled out from adding one of these defensive ends, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs notes the more likely path will be via the draft. But Matt Eberflus confirmed the position will be a priority. The Bears, who traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn in 2022, finished with a league-worst 20 sacks last season. No Chicago D-lineman totaled more than three.

You guys know and you can see it. We obviously need some spots on our whole football team, but certainly our lines,” Eberflus said, via Jahns. “We’re still working on that, still going to be a work in progress. We’ll be looking for different avenues through the draft and free agency to … address that.”

Trading down from No. 1 to No. 9 will likely remove the Bears from draft real estate necessary to select Alabama’s Will Anderson, whom ESPN’s Scouts Inc. grades as this class’ second-best prospect. The first non-quarterback-choosing team will undoubtedly consider Anderson. But the other top-slotted edges among this crop — Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) and Myles Murphy (Clemson) — could be on the board when Ryan Poles‘ team selects.

Chicago also acquired Carolina’s second-round pick in the March swap for the No. 1 overall choice, giving the NFC North team two second-rounders (Nos. 53 and 61). The Bears, who obtained No. 53 in the Roquan Smith trade, used their own second-round pick to acquire Chase Claypool from the Steelers at the deadline. While Biggs adds tackle and cornerback also profile as top need areas for the rebuilding team, the Bears should be expected to come away with a defensive end with one of their three first- or second-rounders.

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