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Chicago Bears March Scouting Report
Richard Fung

The Bears went into this month’s free agency period with a laundry list of needs, a list that they were never going to be able to fill in one offseason. GM Ryan Poles has managed to fill some key holes, but many remain, and in some of their biggest areas of need. Let’s have a look:



The idea of trading QB Justin Fields and selecting one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft was intriguing but never particularly realistic or likely. For one thing, the potential return for Fields would’ve paled in comparison to what Poles was able to extract from the Panthers for the #1 pick (more on that later). But after seeing the electric playmaking ability that Fields is capable of last season, Poles just felt like he had to see it through with the young signal caller. On March 16th, the Bears signed free agent QB P.J. Walker to be the new backup, then released QB Trevor Siemian. Walker gives the team a more athletic backup in case Fields gets injured.



Last month, I mentioned in this space that part of me wanted the Bears to go after Saquon Barkley if he became available. But after seeing how many impressive backs there were at the Combine, I changed my mind. Of course, it wound up being a moot point anyway because the Giants were able to franchise tag Saquon after agreeing to a long-term deal with Daniel Jones. After that, Poles opted not to re-sign RB David Montgomery (who went to Detroit). With his tough running style and leadership ability, Monty was a fan-favorite, but I honestly felt like the Bears could do better at the position. Montgomery never really had the breakaway speed to turn good runs into great runs and just wasn’t the most efficient runner.


Poles did wind up making a couple of somewhat surprising signings here, inking RB Travis Homer to a two-year deal and RB D’Onta Foreman to a one-year deal. In Seattle, Homer was a third-down back who was a pretty good receiver and pass protector, as well as a special teams ace. I’d expect him to have a similar role here in Chicago. Foreman is the more interesting signing. Don’t let the bargain bin contract fool you; Foreman said that he’s intent on becoming the lead dog here in Chicago, and I think he’s got a very decent shot to do just that. He’s a powerful one-cut runner who fits the Bears’ outside zone scheme well, and he runs with surprising burst and wiggle for a guy his size (6-1 236). He can be like a runaway train when he gets going. Foreman also said that he’s a good receiver who just hasn’t had the chance to show that side of his game much yet.


HC Matt Eberflus said that there’s going to be a competition for the starting job, and I think Foreman is going to give RB Khalil Herbert a good run for his money. At the very least, Foreman should be the short yardage/goal line back. Of course, the picture could change if the Bears pick a tailback in next month’s draft. There is a small (but vocal) contingent of the fanbase that would like Chicago to take Texas’ Bijan Robinson in the first round, but I think the Foreman signing makes this highly unlikely (though I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it). A Day 3 pick would be more likely, and of course I’ll go more in depth on this next month.


Wide receiver

Here is where the most seismic move of the Bears’ offseason happened... and on my birthday, no less! On March 10th, Poles sent the #1 overall pick to the Panthers for a haul the size of Santa’s sleigh, the biggest prize being WR D.J. Moore. Admittedly, I haven’t seen much of Moore because he’s been toiling in anonymity in Carolina for the past few years, but after watching a bunch of his highlights, I quickly learned that the guy is a bona fide #1 receiver. I struggle to think of a comp for him in Bears history (probably because he already has more career receiving yards than anyone in team history!), but just know this: the guy is a smooth operator.


At 6-0 210, Moore might not have standout physical traits, but he has very good speed (4.42 40) and great hands (especially in contested catch situations). He also excels at finding soft spots in zone coverage and has the moves to beat corners off the line of scrimmage. After the catch, Moore has enough speed to run away from defenders and enough strength to occasionally break arm tackles. As PFF’s Brad Spielberger pointed out, Fields led the league with a 66.7% completion percentage on throws 10-19 yards downfield last season, and Moore’s 172 targets in that area from 2019-22 is second-most in the league.


Poles knew he had to get Fields a legit #1 wideout (just like Buffalo got Stefon Diggs for Josh Allen and Philly got A.J. Brown for Jalen Hurts), so he insisted that the Panthers include him in the trade. This deal gives Fields a reliable playmaker who will draw defensive attention away from WR Darnell Mooney and WR Chase Claypool and move them into more secondary roles where they should (hopefully) be more effective. What makes this deal even better? Moore will be only 26 when the season starts, and he’s under contract for three more seasons at a reasonable price. A masterstroke of a move by Poles.


Tight end

I mentioned last month that the Bears could use another receiving threat here, and Poles delivered by signing TE Robert Tonyan. My first thought after the signing was, "Ick, another Cheesehead." But after learning that he’s from McHenry, IL and grew up a big Bears fan, I forgave him. At 6-5 237, Tonyan is a good red zone threat (11 TDs in 2020) with very reliable hands. Plus, he knows OC Luke Getsy’s offense well. Pairing him with TE Cole Kmet should give Chicago a potent tight end combo for 12-personnel, though it could cloud Kmet’s fantasy picture.


Offensive line

The Bears signed former Titans G Nate Davis to a three-year deal on opening day of free agency. Davis was mostly a right guard for the Titans, but that’s where G Teven Jenkins settled in and mostly succeeded last year. So will Davis play left guard, or will he play right guard with Jenkins moving somewhere else? That is TBD. Poles tried to fill the hole at right tackle with Mike McGlinchey, but he went to the Broncos because they gave him a huge deal. Now, it looks like the Bears will have to fill that position in the draft, likely with the ninth overall pick they got from Carolina. Poles hinted that G Cody Whitehair may move to center, though that could change if the Bears draft one. Davis appears to be a solid signing, but it is critical that Poles gets a quality player to play right tackle so that Fields has the best chance to succeed in 2023.


Defense/Special teams

Most of the Bears’ free agency war chest has gone here, but not at the positions you would expect. Hours after free agency opened, Poles inked two linebackers: LB T.J. Edwards and LB Tremaine Edmunds. Edwards grew up a huge Bears fan in Lindenhurst, IL (see a trend here?), so once his hometown team called, the former Eagle basically said, "Where do I sign?" His three-year, $19 million deal was one of the best value deals of the entire free agency period.


Edmunds was the real surprise here, signing a four-year deal worth $72 million, with $50 million guaranteed. At 6-5 250, he will remind some of a certain #54 who used to roam the middle for the Bears. Opinion was split on who would play the MIKE and who would play the WILL after the signings, but Eberflus said yesterday that Edmunds would likely be the man in the middle. He has the prototypical size, speed, and athleticism you want from a Cover-2 middle linebacker that can run sideline-to-sideline or run down the seam and knock down passes. Edmunds hasn’t always been great in coverage, but he was great at it last season, and Eberflus thinks the former Bill has the potential to generate takeaways more often once he starts to focus on forcing them. Was it a good idea to spend that much money at linebacker when it’s not considered a "premium" position? Time will tell, but Chicago did need linebackers, both guys are very good players, and very good players cost money. The Bears also signed former Titans LB Dylan Cole to a one-year deal.


As I mentioned last month, the Bears needed a hockey-style line change on the D-line this offseason, but they've only made a couple of smaller free agent signings so far, signing former Titans DE DeMarcus Walker to a three-year deal and former Raiders DT Andrew Billings to a one-year deal. Walker is a big (6-4 280) dude who can play inside or outside but will probably line up at left end. Billings is a classic run stuffer at 6-1 328. Many fans wanted the team to go after Dre’Mont Jones, but he went to Cleveland. Javon Hargrave was always likely to go to a contender like the 49ers.


Overall, the fanbase is generally happy with the signings that have been made but isn’tvery happy that more hasn’t been done in the trenches. But this is going to be a multiyear rebuilding project, and Poles doesn’t want to overpay players and wind up with bad contracts like past Bears GMs have. Most of his signings have been younger, ascending players who are in their prime or about to hit it. Scheme fit is also a key here. Yes, it would’ve been nice to address right tackle and three-technique tackle so Poles would have more flexibility to go BPA at #9 overall, but you can’t always get what you want, I suppose. Meaningful help on both lines will have to come through the draft and cuts from other teams now.



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