Firmly in the middle of a rebuild, it would come as no surprise if the Bears elected to move on from one or more notable players in the coming days. Despite having a few options in that regard, though, it appears unlikely that will be the case.
Citing the views of an AFC scout, Adam Jahns of The Athletic details that a major move in the coming days should not be expected (subscription required). Last year, Chicago agreed to send All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens for a package including a second-round pick. A sizeable move of similar impact would likely only happen if the likes of cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Eddie Jackson or wideout Darnell Mooney were to be dealt.
That trio represents the Bears players most likely to garner attention, per Jahns. They would, of course, come at varying prices in a swap given their different age and contract statuses. Johnson’s future in the Windy City has been called into question on a number of occasions, but the 24-year-old said earlier this week that talks on an extension could heat up soon. General manager Ryan Poles has expressed a desire to keep Johnson in place beyond 2023, so a trade coming to fruition in the coming days would come as a surprise.
Jackson has a longer track record of success, but his age, along with injury- and finance-related factors would complicate a trade. The two-time Pro Bowler has been limited to just three games this season, and he last played a full campaign in 2020. Jackson is also due a non-guaranteed salary of $14.5MM in 2024, his age-30 season. He is scheduled to carry a cap hit of $18.1MM, so any acquiring team would either need to work out an extension to make his contract easier to work with in future years or make him a cap casualty after the season.
Mooney, like Johnson, is due for a second contract this offseason. The 2020 fifth-rounder appeared to cement his status as a long-term piece with a 1,000-yard campaign in his second season, but things have taken a turn since then. Mooney put up career lows in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season as the Bears struggled to find production in the passing game. That led to the acquisition of D.J. Moore, something which has in part resulted in a drop in Mooney’s playing time. The latter’s snap share sits at 70%, and he has made just 14 catches through seven games.
With over $9MM in cap space and seven 2024 draft picks at the moment, the Bears have plenty of flexibility with respect to the upcoming trade deadline. Their ability to receive more signficant draft capital in trades for Johnson and/or Mooney than the compensatory picks they would be due in the event they departed in free agency will likely factor heavily into their handling of those players. Overall, as Jahns notes, a busy few days from Poles and Co. would come as a surprise.