Top DL targets the Bears should target
|Monday, May 22, 2023, 1:00 PM- -|
There hasn't been much to complain about this season regarding the Chicago Bears offseason. Ryan Poles entered the offseason with a vision and a plan to get to that vision, and by all accounts, he has done a phenomenal job across the board.
The Bears needed more offensive firepower and traded for DJ Moore. They needed help on defense and added guys like TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds to the LB group. Most importantly, the Bears wanted to continue addressing their OL and added Darnell Wright with the No. 9 pick of the NFL draft.
All those moves mentioned will make this team better, as the Bears are in a position to be one of the more improved teams this season should Justin Fields and the offense take the next steps forward as a unit. Despite all that, there is one area that Poles hasn't addressed as much as he would have liked to thus far, but he is still putting the pieces together on how to address that area.
I am talking about the defensive line, a unit that needs a ton of work after picking up the fewest sacks in the NFL last season. They also ranked dead last in YPC, allowing nearly 5.0 per clip. For the Bears to improve as a defensive unit, they need to improve up front, which will take some work.
Chicago has some guys who are expected to take leaps this season while adding Gervon Dexter into the mix. However, Chicago will still look at the free agent market and trade block as an area to bring in extra defensive help. When it comes to the free agent market, several names exist, including Jadeveon Clowney, who is starting to hear his name linked with Chicago a lot more often.
Clowney would be an excellent addition to this team, but given his inconsistent production, the Bears may take a pass on him.
If that is the case, you could see the Bears play the waiting game and see who becomes available closer to camp. Some of the names to keep an eye on would be Alton Robinson (Seattle Edge), Benito Jones (Lions DT), Adetokunbo Ogundeji (Falcons Edge), and Derek Barnett (Philadelphia Edge).
All four have produced at some level the past few seasons but have not seen the field consistently. Robinson didn't play in 2022, but he has five career sacks in 30 games, with four coming as a rookie. Jones is a 330-pound monster in the middle who can stuff the run. He also emerged as a key rotational piece for the Lions last season and came away with his first career sacks a season ago.
Ogundeji was a freakishly athletic player in college but has yet to be able to display that in the NFL. Sure, he has played in 32 games since entering the league, but with only three sacks and 75 tackles, more production is needed. A change of scenery may give him that production. Barnett is the most intriguing name on this list, as he could find himself on a roster crunch when you look at the Eagle's additions.
Barnett has as much experience as the other guys combined, as he has spent six seasons in the NFL. During that time, Barnett has shown plenty of flashes as he has nearly 200 tackles and 21 career sacks. 13 of those came in a two-year stretch in 2019-20 as he can make things happen. Put him on the Bears defense, and you will add a nice piece to make plays for you.
While the free agent market may be the choice of Poles, don't rule out the possibility of a trade. When it comes to trades, Poles will be careful who he talks with as he doesn't want to cripple this team. One team to watch is the New York Jets, as they have two potential trade pieces.
The first of the two isn't a well-known guy, but someone the Jets liked enough to put a second-round tender on him. That player is Bryce Huff. Despite his limited starter experience, where he has started seven of his 37 career games, Huff has done a great job producing when on the field. In nearly 200 snaps last season, Huff made the most of his time on the field, where he had 3.5 sacks and two additional tackles for a loss.
He also added 10 QB hits, which are great for someone playing in 20% of the team's defensive snaps. Huff may be buried on the Jets depth chart, but they like his potential, so they placed a second-round tender on him. This may be the Bear's opportunity to come calling.
The second option from the Jets is more of a dream scenario, as Quinnen Williams may be on the trade block shortly. If you want to talk about a big move for Poles and the front office, Williams would be it, as he is one of the most talented defensive linemen in the game. He is a game-wrecker coming off an all-pro season where he wants to be paid like an all-pro.
You know what? He deserves to be, and if the Jets don't, let the Bears do it. Across four seasons, Williams has amassed 27.5 sacks in his career, with a career-high 12 coming last season. He added a career-best 12 tackles for a loss as he was a one-man wrecking crew in the backfield. With Dexter Lawrence getting a 90-million-dollar contract for less production, it shouldn't shock anyone to see Williams asking for 25 million per season.
Whether he is worth that or not, someone will take a gamble on him and pay the man as his talent level is through the roof. Of all the scenarios Poles has, this may be the least likely to happen as the Jets will ask for a king's ransom if they trade him away.