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Chicago Bears 2020 Roster Turnover: Outside linebacker needs to be addressed

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 2020 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Leonard Floyd - Signed through 2020 - The Chicago Bears need to decide if they’ll let Floyd play on his 5th-year option in 2020 ($13,222,000) or if they’ll renegotiate to get that number down while locking him up long term. It’s hard to imagine him coming too far down off that $13 million a year hit, but if the Bears could get creative with his guaranteed money they might be able to get something signed with the 27-year old Floyd.

While his pass rush skills aren’t special, the Bears value what Floyd brings as a football player. Edge rushing 3-4 outside linebackers get paid off their ability to get after the quarterback, so with Floyd not excelling in that, his value around the league may not be as high as others at his position.

Over The Cap’s Brad Spielberger lays out some solid reasoning for keeping Floyd on the 5th-year option in 2020 in this article; Chicago Bears Salary Cap Round-table: Player they should keep

Khalil Mack - Signed through 2024 - Mack has huge cap hits with no realistic outs the next three years, but let’s be real, if Mack is still doing Mack things the Bears shouldn’t care about an out in the contract. He didn’t have a huge sack year in 2019, but he still led the team with 8.5, plus his 14 QB hits and 5 forced fumbles led the Bears, and his 8 tackles for loss tied for the team lead. Pro Football Reference had Mack down for 45 pressures (hurries, knockdowns and sacks) in 2019, which was only 2 fewer than in 2018.

Aaron Lynch - Free agent - It’s time for him to go.

Isaiah Irving - Restricted free agent - Irving doesn’t turn 26 until September, so maybe the Bears tender him an offer to bring him back to compete, but after three years I’m not sure he has any pass rushing upside.

James Vaughters - Signed through 2021 - Vaughters turns 27 this June, but since he’s under contract he’ll be in camp competing for a reserve OLB spot.

2020 OUTLOOK - The Bears have needed a developmental pass rushing outside linebacker for a while now, so they better grab one in the NFL Draft. Our resident draft guru, Jacob Infante, thinks Tulsa’s Trevis Gipson is an ideal fit.

Chicago would be wise to add edge rusher depth this year, and they could end up finding that in Gipson around the fifth round. Though he’s raw and will need some improvements in his pad level, he bursts off the ball well, has a great frame and can move around well in space.

Gipson had a productive week at the Senior Bowl and he did meet with the Bears. He has good length (6’4”, 34’ arms) to come off the edge, he plays with high energy, but his technique needs refining.

If the Bears decide to look higher in the draft for an outside linebacker, prospects like Bradlee Anae from Utah, Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, or Kenny Willekes from Michigan State could all be in play.

If the Bears elect to address edge in free agency they’ll probably need to shop in the bargain bin. Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell, Denver’s Jeremiah Attaochu, or Kansas City’s Emmanuel Ogbah would all upgrade the pass rush and be relatively cheap.

What do you think the Bears do at outside linebacker in 2020?