Chicago Bears: Is 2018 Off-Season Reload or Rebuild?

Chicago Bears (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

With only 45 players currently under contract, by far the fewest in the NFL, the Bears have clearly signaled that the Rebuild Version 2.0 is beginning.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have begun to reshape the Bears roster in a way that many previously saw as highly improbable.  It was not unreasonable for people to look at the roster and think that with some tweaking on defense, and an overhaul at a few positions on offense, this could be a team with a winning record and an outside shot at a wild card game.  No one saw the Bears stripping down their roster to the studs to rebuild the house from scratch, but here we are.

So What Does The Roster Currently Look Like?

Currently the Bears have only 45 players on the roster according to Spotrac, and that is against the 90 man roster limit that you have from the start of the new season until the roster cut down toward the end of the preseason.  That means that between now and the start of the pre-season, the Bears need to find 45 players to fill their roster with.  That is not a reload, it’s a full blown rebuild.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

The 45 player count doesn’t even factor in other veteran players who look to be on the chopping block. Dion Sims, Markus Wheaton, Bobby Massie, and Marcus Cooper are all still on the bubble, and even though Kansas City kept a fullback on the roster, there is no guarantee that Michael Burton stays on the roster (though I hope he does).  That could leave us with only 40 players under contract for next season.

Even if the Bears bring back Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Sherrick McManis, Christian Jones, Sam Acho, Pat O’Donnell, Cario Santos, Benny Cunningham, Tom Compton, Dontrelle Inman, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, and Bradley Sowell, that would only leave them with 53 players.  Also, remember that a number of those players are practice squad candidates and on “futures/reserves” contracts and are not likely to make the squad next year.  Those numbers leave Pace and Nagy with an incredible amount of work to do this offseason.

Where Are The Biggest Roster Holes?

At this point we have three positions in serious need of players, not to mention talent. After removing anyone on a futures/reserve contract, and based only on those who currently have a contract signed with the team, they are:

Outside Linebacker:

Roll Call: Leonard Floyd and Howard Jones

Likely starters in 2018: Floyd & ??

Wide Receiver:

Roll Call: Markus Wheaton and Kevin White

Likely starters in 2018: ??


Roll Call: Marcus Cooper, Deiondre’ Hall, Doran Grant, and Crevon LeBlanc

Likely starters in 2018: ??

So Where Do We Go From Here?

The Bears will need to move quickly and in many cases look for young players on the cheap to attempt to rebuild and fill so many roster holes. They will probably make a few larger signings this off-season.  I would expect for most of the signings to be young players who are seen as having upside and who will be less expensive so that we can sign the sheer number of players that we need in order to fill out the roster.

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My faith in Pace’s ability to rebuild the roster remains high overall. I think that with a coaching staff that is willing to work with him, and not one that wants to direct him, we will see a very different dynamic for the team.  The issue for Pace is that at this point he’s put himself on the hook.  He can no longer blame Emery for the lack of talent on the roster.  At this point, the GM whose job he is cleaning up is himself.

He managed to limit the damage with short contracts.  Unfortunately only a handful of those contracts ever became something more substantial. Does some of that fall on Fox and Loggains?  No doubt, but the real issue here is those players departure.  No matter how deserved those departures are, they have left the team in the position of needing 45+ players.  They only having 7 draft picks to fill them.  This is going to be quite the interesting off-season indeed.

That said, I still believe that Pace has the kind of eye for young draft talent that can lead the team to where it needs to go. His ability to find late round treasures and willingness to build a brain-trust of talented football minds should blend well together.  Nagy also seems like the kind of coach who will take the talent he’s given and shape an offensive attack that maximizes their strengths and hides their weaknesses.  This is the complete opposite of Loggains who expected everyone to play his system.


In many ways, we will have to wait to see how things play out, but one thing is for sure, the roster of 2018 will have many new faces. I would guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 new faces at the start of the season.  On a 53 man roster, that’s 45% of the roster being new to the team.  It turns out that this off-season’s reload has turned into a full on rebuild instead.

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