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Chicago Bears 2018 Roster Turnover: Who will step up on the defensive line this year?

In this 13 part series we’ll take an in depth look at each position group for the Chicago Bears with an eye towards the 2018 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Akiem Hicks - Signed through 2021 - The Chicago Bears signed Hicks to a contract extension last year and he went out and had the best season of his career. Don’t you wish it always worked out like that?

My only concern with Hicks’ 2017 season was the amount he played. A 6’5”, 332 pound man does not need to be on the field for 85% of the defensive snaps. If the Bears want to see Hicks play at a high level for the duration of his contract they need to get his snap counts down.

The Bears need someone to step up on the defensive line for that to happen.

Eddie Goldman - Signed through 2018 - Goldman is a good candidate for an extension at some point this season. He’ll only be 25-years old when his contract expires, so locking him up for four more years would be a wise move. He’ll never put up eye-popping stats, but he’s a force at the nose tackle position that anchors Chicago’s run defense.

Jonathan Bullard - Signed through 2019 - I was excited as most fans when the Bears picked Ballard in the third round a couple years ago. I saw him called a “steal” and a “great value pick,” but through two seasons he has 33 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. I know stats aren’t the only thing when evaluating play, but he’s made very little impact in his 30 games (4 starts) thus far. The Bears could use a big jump in play from him, but if he ends up being just a rotational defensive lineman, then I guess that’s to be expected from a third round value.

Roy Robertson-Harris - Signed through 2018 - I’m actually more excited to see what this former undrafted free agent can do this season than I am Bullard. His career got off to a slow start by missing his entire rookie year, then he had a position change before the 2017 season, but he has the size, athleticism and drive to make a difference if he can get his technique down.

Mitch Unrein - Free agent - Unrein came over to the Bears to reunite with head coach John Fox, so with his contract expired and Fox no longer employed, I think Unrein is playing elsewhere in 2018.

John Jenkins - Free agent - Jenkins only played in eight games last year, but he is a legit back up nose tackle (6’3”, 327ish), so another one year minimum salary deal could be in the cards.

Rashaad Coward - Signed through 2018 - Coward was an undrafted free agent last year and he was only active for one game. At 6’5”, 320 pounds, he definitely has NFL size, so he’s a player to keep an eye on during training camp. If he can show that he can keep his pad level down and anchor the middle, he could be the back up nose tackle.

2018 OUTLOOK - I think the Bears need to add one more player to this group, either via the draft or in free agency. Ideally, Bullard or RRH (or both) have a great offseason and solidify this unit, but adding more talent to help out Hicks and Goldman is a must.

There’s been a rumor circulating that the Jets are thinking about cutting Muhammad Wilkerson. If he is let go, he’d be a great fit on the Bears d-line. Unfortunately he’ll be in high demand, so I doubt he picks Chicago. Seattle’s Sheldon Richardson could be in demand too, as could Atlanta’s Dontari Poe. Any of thee three would help immensely.

Kansas City’s Bennie Logan could be in the mix for the Bears if you follow the Matt Nagy connection. Logan signed a one year deal last year betting he could parlay that into a mammoth contract, but his play may not warrant that. He’s a nose tackle by trade, but could slide around the line on third down.

A new deal for Goldman could also be a factor into how much money the Bears allocate to the position.

If the Bears look to the Draft, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson could be a fit as a 5-tech defensive end. Folorunso Fatukasi (6’4”, 303) from Connecticut, besides having a great name, could be a nice addition at the 5-tech for the Bears. He showed good quickness at the East-West Shrine game. These guys could be in play on the third day.

What do you guys think about the Bears’ defensive line this year?