Do you want to know how the Chicago Bears felt about their inside linebacker position last season? Look no further than the $36.5 million they gave out to revamp the position in March. In Danny Trevathan (4 year, $24.5M, $12M guaranteed) and Jerrell Freeman (3 year, $12M, $6M guaranteed), the Bears may have bought themselves the best ILB duo in the NFL.
The starting ILBs they replaced, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones, are both playing new positions this year. Jones was moved to outside linebacker by the Bears and McClellin, who signed with the Patriots as a free agent, was playing defensive end in the New England's camp.
Trevathan and Freeman combined for 221 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 8 quarterback hits, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defended and a fumble recovery in twenty-eight 2015 games. They both have experience calling plays and leading a defense, they both can cover and both can play the run.
The two I mentioned above (DUH), but those are probably the only two veterans that are slam dunks. I think rookie Nick Kwiatkoski is the other lock among the ILBs. Kwiatkoski in the 4th round wasn't a popular choice among Bears' fans when he was picked, but I think he's gonna flash his athleticism and physicality in the preseason and become a fan favorite. He played safety his first year at West Virginia, but after moving to linebacker he averaged 89 tackles per season his last three years, with 28.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and 6 interceptions from 2013-2015.
A good bet to make it
The Bears broke camp last year with four inside linebackers, and if they do the same this year, the fight for the 4th spot will be a fierce one. I think it's completely up in the air right now.
On the bubble
If the Bears want a special teamer for the bottom of the ILB depth chart, then Lamin Barrow may have the advantage. he led all linebackers last year with 309 special team's snaps (67.6%), but he didn't play a snap on D. Jonathan Anderson was had the next most 3rd phase snaps of the returning ILBs at 145 (31.7%), and he even chipped in with 312 snaps on D (30.2%). John Timu had 60 ST plays (13.1%) and another 159 on D (15.4%). If the Bears want a backup that they feel can step in an dplay some defense, Anderson fills more of the Jack ILB spot, because he's a bit more athletic, but Timu is stronger and more stout against the run, so he'd be a fill in at the Mike ILB.
Notre Dame's Jarrett Grace is probably a practice squad candidate, but keep in mind that so are Anderson and Timu.
What are your thoughts on the ILB depth chart?