Bears 2016 Free Agent Options: Inside Linebacker

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bears should have over $50 million in cap room this off-season, which could give them the ability to sign a couple potential play-makers. I’m not advocating free agency as the answer to fixing the 2016 version of the team because I still think they are a couple of good drafts away from being a consistent contender, but the Bears could add a few impact pieces if they are smart with their cap space.

Inside linebacker should be a priority position for the Bears in both free agency and the draft. Everyone expected there to be difficulties in transitioning to a new defensive scheme, but the Bears might not have had a weaker position overall than inside linebacker. Over the course of the season the Bears started five different players at the ILB position in different combinations, but no pairing stood out as difference makers. Some players were solid against the run but struggled against the pass, others the opposite, and then there was Shea McClellin who sucked at both.

I’ll be breaking down the Bears potential free agent ILB targets below. You can check out the free agent options at other positions, my preview of the Bears current situation at each position, and my draft rankings below:

Bears position previews: QB | DL | RB | ILB

Bears free agent options: QB | DL | RB

2016 Draft rankings: QB | 3-4 DE | RB

Potential Free Agent ILB Targets

It’s a pretty weak class overall for inside linebackers, but there are a few players that would be upgrades over the Bears young, inexperienced ILB group. I’ve broke the list down into three parts: top-tier (play-makers), mid-tier (starting caliber), and bottom tier (potential bargains).


ILB Danny Trevathan, Broncos (25) – The Broncos are in a tough position this off-season with multiple high-profile free agents and limited cap room. There is little chance the Broncos can bring them all back, which makes Travathan a potential option for the Bears. He has already publicly mentioned his strong relationship with Bears HC John Fox, which may give the Bears a recruiting edge in free agency.

Trevathan is only 25 and was one of the key components on the #1 defense in the NFL this season. Inside linebacker was a glaring hole for the Bears , but Trevathan would give the Bears a borderline Pro Bowler who has the coverage and run stopping skills DC Vic Fangio requires from the position.

Adding Trevathan would give the Bears a 3-down ILB and allow them to use some combination of run-stoppers Christian Jones and John Timu on early downs then Jonathan Anderson on passing downs at the other ILB position. Teammate and fellow ILB Brandon Marshall (27) is a restricted free agent, but could be an option for the Bears if the Broncos re-sign Trevathan instead.