With many, many months until the Chicago Bears strap up the pads again, this team is in an incredibly interesting spot. A spot that most teams would love to be in.
The Chicago Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, while also having approximately $120 million to spend this off-season, it’s an exciting time for the Bears.
That said, it’s not all roses and butterflies for the Chicago Bears.
With David Montgomery’s contract expiring with the Bears, it could be time to move on from Monty and acquire a running back with a deeper tool belt.
Does that mean drafting a running back, signing one in the off-season, or rolling with whom the team currently has?
Will Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears take a swing at Saquon Barkley this off-season?
All three are possible, however, in a post-game interview after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional round, Saquon Barkley made comments that likely have Ryan Poles’ ears perked up.
"“I’m not too concerned about resetting any markets or anything like that; I’m realistic,” Barkley said when asked about his next contract. “Having two years filled up with injuries and having a season of not performing to the level I know I can perform doesn’t help, but I think I was able to show what type of player I am [this season] and the things I’m able to do on a football field.”"
Barkley is on the verge of turning 26, which, as of recently, has been the age when running backs usually have a dip in production.
The shelf life of running backs in the modern NFL isn’t nearly as long as it once was, so the idea of paying running backs a lot of money after their rookie deal is often frowned upon.
That said, given the Chicago Bears’ current circumstances, the reward might outweigh the risk.
After having back-to-back over 1,000-yard seasons once drafted in 2018, injuries kept Barkley off the field.
In the 2020 season, Barkley tore his ACL and sprained his MCL, then the following year had a season-ending ankle injury.
However, after those two injuries, Saquon Barkley returned in 2022 and produced one of his best seasons to date with 1,312 yards and 10 TDs.
The biggest question, though, is will Saquon Barkley be worth the deal he wants.
It was reported that Saquon turned down a deal for $12 million per year and instead wants a deal closer to San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey’s. McCaffrey’s deal with the 49ers is a four-year deal worth up to $64 million, with approximately $38 million guaranteed.
Now, the Chicago Bears have a lot of needs to fill, both in the draft and in free agency.
The Bears could make a deal similar to McCaffrey’s happen, but with his age, injury history, and the position he plays, would it be worth it for the Chicago Bears?
It should be very fun to watch play out, and maybe, just maybe, Saquon Barkley will want to take a slight discount to play with Justin Fields.
Who knows if Fields has that pull yet, but by the way some NFL players have praised Fields, it’s surely possible.