Chicago Bears Free Agency Wish List: Defensive Line

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears are projected to have around $50 million in available cap space even after the $14.955 franchise tag applied to Alshon Jeffery. That number factors in a number of variables including the trade or release of tight end Martellus Bennett which will free up almost $5M in cap space. The release of dead weight Antrell Rolle ($2.75M), Will Sutton ($750K), and a handful other players making less than a million, who won’t be on the squad next season. The ten million or so needed for the rookie signing pool is factored in as well, bringing the number to roughly $5o million.

The Bears would need about double that number to fill all of the holes in the starting lineup on both sides of the ball. GM Ryan Pace has been adamant about spreading the money around and not putting all his eggs in one basket, which seems like a sound strategy given the multiple needs at almost every position on the roster. I’ve used the estimated cap space and Pace’s reluctance to splurge on one or two high priced free-agents to come up with a list of players I think the Bears should target this off-season.

It’s not a top-heavy or even relatively deep free agent class, but there were some tough choices on which players the Bears should target at their positions of greatest need. At those positions when the decision was toughest, I’ve added a note or two about my second choice at the position. To keep under $50M I’ve used estimated free agency numbers from a variety of sources, but mainly my own gut feeling on what the players will receive on the open market.

Before you rip me in the comments, please understand that this is a wish list and not a prediction of who I think the Bears will sign. I think it’s realistic for the Bears to come out of free agency with 4-5 new starters, but that has more to do with the quality of the Bears current starters than the quality of the free agency class. I’ve broken the signing down by position of need and players at those positions who are players I think could make an impact, or be solid starters, or depth players with starting potential, and finally long-shots who could start or not even make the final 53-man roster.

Bears Free Agent Wish List:

Defensive Line:

The most popular free agent name at the position is Broncos DE Malik Jackson. The former 5th round pick has improved steadily since being drafted in 2012 and excelled last year in his first season as a starter on a loaded Broncos defense. Jackson came into the league with the ability to rush the passer as his career high 6 sacks as a rookie attests to, but had struggled against the run until this season. He was a beast in the playoffs and again in the Super Bowl which boosted Jackson’s value significantly.

He’s rumored to be asking for $12-$15M which is quite a lot to pay for a player who has had one really good season. Jackson was also bookended by two of the best pass rushers in the NFL (Von Miller, Demarcus Ware) and across from a Pro Bowl caliber DE in Derek Wolfe. With the Broncos Jackson has yet to see a double-team or been game planned for, which with the Bears he would certainly experience both. It’s just too much to risk for the $10M+ Jackson will surely demand after his performance in the 2015 playoffs and Super Bowl. Hence, the Bears should look elsewhere to similarly talented d-linemen at a must more cost-effective price. I’ve listed a few players below who I think could help the Bears significantly in 2016; Some impact players, some solid rotation pieces, and some bargains with upside who may flourish under the tutelage of DC Vic Fangio.

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