4 free agent edge rushers with obvious connections to the Chicago Bears

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The Chicago Bears are likely to sign an edge rusher in free agency this offseason. As always, teams will end up signing players with whom coaches and front office members are familiar. Which edge rusher free agents could that apply to this offseason?

1. The Chicago Bears should pursue A.J. Epenesa in free agency 

The Chicago Bears defensive coordinator is Eric Washington. Not only did Washington come from the Buffalo Bills, but he was also the defensive line coach with the team. So, A.J. Epenesa has played for one defensive line coach his entire career, and now he has even more say with the Chicago Bears. The Bears have a serious need; why wouldn't Epenesa follow Washington?

After two seasons with 2.5 sacks, Epenesa posted 13 sacks over the last two years, showing he can be serviceable in a rotation, and he grew under the coaching of Washington. 

2. Would Ryan Poles sign Mike Danna in free agency?

Mike Danna was a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020. Ryan Poles was the team's player personnel director at that point, so he was still invested in the draft and scouting, and he spent two years with Danna. 

Danna is like DeMarcus Walker in that he can play inside and outside, and also is solid against the run. He fits the Eberflus scheme, and was drafted by a team with Ryan Poles in the room. Danna went from 5.5 sacks in the first two years of his career to 11.5 sacks in the last two years, and he is coming off a solid Super Bowl performance as well. 

3. Will Chicago look into Denico Autry in free agency?

Denico Autry was drafted by the Raiders when defensive line coach Travis Smith was there. Autry then was signed by the Indianapolis Colts, when Matt Eberflus was there. That is when Autry broke out and came into his own. Autry had nine sacks in 2018 under Eberflus. 

Autry signed with Tennessee and now has 28.5 sacks over the last three years. He spent the 2022 season with DeMarus Walker, so the fit is natural. Still, he is 34 years old and scheme-dependent, so only a few teams will be interested. One thing we do know is that Chicago has a scheme that fits. 

4. Tyquan Lewis is a depth free agent with ties to the Chicago Bears

Tyquan Lewis was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, so Matt Eberflus was the first defensive coordinator he had. Lewis had a career-high four sacks under Eberflus in 2020, and his development led to a contract extension with the Colts. Now, he is a free agent and could be an upgrade over Rasheem Green. He also would know the scheme better. 

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