The Chicago Bears must build around these eight players in 2022

Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Khalil Mack
Chicago Bears – Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears Player to Build Around No. 8: Khalil Mack

This one might seem strange based on the average age of every other player mentioned in this article. The thing is, Khalil Mack is still a dominant pass rusher and the team sent two first-round picks and more to lock him up in 2018. It would not make sense to just let him go at this point.

That said, this season is the last year that the Chicago Bears would suffer a great loss in dead cap if they were to release Khalil Mack. Next season, the team could cut Mack and save a little over $6 million in cap space, however, he’d also still cost them $24 million in dead cap should they make that decision. Personally, I do not believe 2022 will be the year to make this move.

2023 seems more realistic for the Bears to release Mack. The team owes him $28.5 million in 2023, but if they cut him they’d save $16.9 million in salary cap as his dead cap number would only be $11.6 million. Khalil Mack will be 32 during the 2023 season, there have been a decent number of elite players who maintain a strong level of play at that age.

In 2024, the Bears will owe Mack $26.25 million, but if they cut him, they will only owe him $6 million — a $20.25 million savings. This will also be when the team will need to start looking to pay Justin Fields. 2024 is the last year of his rookie contract, although I am sure they will choose to exercise his fifth-year option. Either way, the team will need to have a plan for extending him at that point and this is why Mack should be sticking around until 2023 at least, maybe even 2024.

Next. Can Nagy and the Bears change history?. dark

The key will be to monitor his level of play and availability. Mack has not been the healthiest. Not having him in Week 9 vs the Steelers was not ideal. The pass rush has not been the same without him. Having a top pass rusher, a top inside linebacker and a top corner make up a great core for a defense. Now the team better hope Eddie Jackson finds his groove again or they find a replacement for him to keep this defense elite as the offense shifts to the Justin Fields era.