Danny Trevathan - Signed through 2019 - Let’s get this out of the way first. There’s no way the Chicago Bears are going to cut a 29-year old that is still producing at a high level when the defense is in their “championship window.” Trevathan was a Pro Bowl alternate, he was their defensive play caller, plus he’s a damn good football player. His cap hit isn’t astronomical at $7,65M in his final year, but don’t rule out a small contract extension if the Bears aren’t comfortable with an in-house option taking over in 2020.
Roquan Smith - Signed through 2021 (with a 5th year team option for 2022) - Roquan was on a bunch of All-Rookie teams, he was also a Pro Bowl alternate, and he led the Bears in tackles with 121. He also doesn’t turn 22-years old until April. If his career goes like it looks like it’s going, he’ll be in the Pro Bowl in 2019 with an All Pro team soon to follow. He has the kind of speed that gets him around the ball an awful lot and good things happen when you’re around the ball. Just imagine what having a full offseason with the Bears will do for his preperation.
Nick Kwiatkoski - Signed through 2019 - Kwit is a good special teamer and a solid back up 2-down inside backer, but with the recent proven performance escalator kicking his salary up over $2 million for the 2019 season, the Bears may think about making a move.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe - Signed through 2021 - Iggy has the athleticism to be a core special teamer moving forward, but he didn’t play much on defense as a rookie. He led the team with 6 solo stops in the third phase, and he led them with 318 snaps in the third phase too. At some point the Bears may want to see if he’s a viable option to take over for Trevathan some day.
Jameer Thurman - Signed to a reserve/futures contract - Thurman played defensive back in college at Indiana State, but he played linebacker with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders the last two seasons. The Bears list him at 6’, 194 pounds, which is on the small side, but he was productive with the Stampeders at linebacker.
Josh Woods - Signed to a reserve/futures contract - Woods is another converted DB who was around on the practice squad last year. He’s another smaller ILB at 6’1”, 204, but we’re starting to see this trend around the league with how much teams pass these days.
2019 OUTLOOK - On my latest T Formation Podcast, EJ Snyder talked about inside linebacker as a need for the Bears, mostly because of how the current depth chart is constructed. With Trevathan and Kwiatkoski both coming out of contract in a year there could be a hole there if the Bears aren’t confident in Iggy stepping in.
The Bears usually carry four at the position, so if Kwit is traded or cut as a cap casualty they’ll need another player that can fill in this year. Thurman and Woods have the athleticism, but we’ll know about them more once we see them in camp.
With limited draft picks, I doubt they address the position with anything more than an undrafted free agent or two. I have a feeling the Bears will roll with the same depth chart as last year, but we might see Iggy get some reps as the first ILB off the bench in 2019.