Danny Trevathan - Signed through 2019 - Trevathan played in twelve games last year and the Chicago Bears’ defense noticeably missed his presence in the four games he was absent. He plays the game with an energy the Bears need, and he’s one of the leaders of the defense. He’s proven to be an all around inside linebacker, good in all facets of the game.
Jerrell Freeman - Signed through 2018 - Freeman only played in one game last season after suffering a pec injury and a concussion. He was then suspended for 10 games last October, which was his second violation of the league’s PED policy. When he has been on the field for the Bears he’s been very productive, but it’s very likely he’s played his last game in Chicago. He even speculated that his career may be over.
From the Chicago Sun Times;
“I had been lying to friends, family and loved ones when it comes to the question of, ‘Are you OK?’ Knowing my career may be over due [to]everything that came with the head injury [that’s been purposely downplayed by me], memory loss and all, has actually been a bit of a struggle.”
If the Bears do part ways with Freeman they’ll save $3,500,000.
EDIT: Freeman was released on 2/20.
Nick Kwiatkoski - Signed through 2019 - Kwit started six games last year, while appearing in 11 total. Through two years injuries have been a problem, but when healthy I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him. He’s a good athlete, he’s physical, and the game seemed to slow down for him in his second year. If the Bears decide to start him alongside Trevathan, I think the defense will be fine.
Christian Jones - Free agent - Jones has come a long way from his first year in the Vic Fangio defense. He’s proven to be a capable starter, but the Bears seemed to favor Kwiatkoski down the stretch last season. Jones played in all 16 games, making 11 starts, and during his four year career he’s only missed one game. I would imagine he’d explore free agency to find a starting job, but if the money/opportunity isn’t to his liking, I could see him returning to the Bears.
His ability to play both inside and outside, as well as being exceptional on special teams makes him a player I’d like to see return.
Jon Timu - Restricted free agent - I’ve always liked the way Timu plays football. He reminds me of a throwback middle linebacker, and I think in the right system he could be a long-term starter. For the Bears, he’s a been a key reserve for three years, and as a restricted free agent it makes sense for the Bears to bring him back. He’s a decent special teams player with starting experience.
Jonathan Anderson - Signed through 2018 - Anderson and Timu came in together as undrafted free agents in 2015, and both have carved out a nice niche for themselves. While Timu has shown more on defense, Anderson has shown more in the third phase. Even if Anderson fails to make the Bears in 2018, I think he’ll finds a new team.
2018 OUTLOOK - I think the soon to be 32-year old Freeman is gone. Whether by retiring or being waived, I just can’t see him returning to the Bears. His cap hit isn’t ridiculous, but two PED suspensions in two years, plus the memory loss from concussions, and I just think there are bigger things for him to concern himself with other than football.
I think the Trevathan / Kwiatkowski pairing is what general manager Ryan Pace had in mind when he brought them both in before the 2016 season. I think these two will be a fun tandem to watch if they can stay healthy.
If Jones doesn’t return, they may want to add another young, veteran-minimum body via free agency to compete with Timu and Anderson. Even though I like what those two have done, the Bears should try to upgrade if possible. A Jones departure could also mean they’d be open to drafting an inside backer in the later rounds, or at the very least they’d bring in one or two UDFAs at the position.
How do you guys see the ILB position playing out for the Bears in 2018?