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Previewing Bears players slated to hit free agency in 2021

Allen Robinson’s contract extension could be around the corner, but which other Bears players are on track to hit the open market next offseason?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the Bears extend Allen Robinson’s contract.

After locking Eddie Jackson up to a four-year, $58.4 million deal in January, the next big move on Chicago’s plate has been re-signing their star wide receiver to a long-term deal. While the signing has yet to take place, history indicates it could happen some time in September.

As premature impatience begins to blossom, one can’t help but wonder what plans the Bears could have in store for the next offseason. With numerous contributors currently on track to have their contracts with the team expire after this season, general manager Ryan Pace will have plenty of difficult decisions to make once the year is over.

A lot can change between now and the start of the 2021 offseason, but for now, let’s take a look at which Bears player are going to be free agents after this year.

Note: All free agents are unrestricted free agents (UFA) unless otherwise noted. Other indications include restricted free agents (RFA) and exclusive rights free agents (ERFA). For more on the difference between these designations, click here.

WR Allen Robinson

The biggest player on the Bears on track to hit the open market next offseason, Robinson is coming off of a 98-catch, 1,147-yard season and is still just 27 years old. The former Pro Bowler has stated that he wants to return to Chicago, and all accounts indicate the team feels the same way about him, too. Given his importance to the Bears’ offense, don’t expect him to come out of this offseason without a franchise tag, if not a long-term extension during the season. Robinson won’t be cheap, but he’s worth it.

QB Mitchell Trubisky

With his fifth-year option declined and Nick Foles having been brought in as competition, the writing seems to be on the wall for Trubisky’s tenure with the Bears. A contract extension wouldn’t be completely out of the question if he wins the starting job and leads the team back into the playoffs, but as it stands right now, the 2017 No. 2 pick could be suiting up for another team this time next year.

RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen plays a big role for the Bears, serving as a heavily-targeted receiving back, the team’s second-string running back, as well as the primary punt returner. The 2018 first-team All-Pro certainly brings a unique skill-set to the table, but the question remains if he’s efficient enough to warrant an extension from a cash-strapped Chicago organization that doesn’t have a strong history of extending running backs. His yards per touch average was a career low 4.4 yards, even with 79 receptions to boost it up. Whether he gets re-signed likely depends on how he performs in 2020.

DL Roy Robertson-Harris

Robertson-Harris has come a long way since his days as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Formerly an edge rusher in college, the UTEP alumnus has had 7.5 sacks over the past three seasons as a rotational defensive lineman and has been a valuable asset on passing downs. Spotrac currently projects Robertson-Harris’ market value at $8.2 million per year, though, and if he ends up commanding that much money, the Bears likely won’t be able to afford him.

RB/WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson

The Bears didn’t get the most out of Patterson on offense in 2019, but that will likely change with his transition to running back. Even with his offensive misuse, he was arguably the team’s best special teams player, being named as both a first-team All-Pro kick returner and a Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro specialist. His current $5 million annual price tag is a bit hefty, but he could potentially be had for a cheaper price next offseason.

DB Tashaun Gipson

Chicago brought on Gipson on a one-year deal after the 2020 draft to compete for the starting strong safety spot. Advanced statistics show he was one of the league’s better safeties with Houston in 2019, and if he repeats that performance with the Bears this year, he could be in store for a much bigger payday than his current veteran minimum contract.

K Eddy Pineiro (RFA)

Pineiro will be a restricted free agent next offseason, which likely means he won’t be going anywhere. He finished with an 82.1 field goal percentage and a 93.1 extra point percentage, ranking 18th and 19th among NFL kickers, respectively. His status with the team next offseason likely isn’t in any danger, but he could stand to improve from 40 to 49 yards out, missing four of his seven attempts from said distance.

OL Germain Ifedi

Currently the favorite to start at right guard for the Bears, Ifedi is another one-year rental on a veteran minimum deal. He’s still just 26 years old, so if he plays well in 2020, he could cash in with a long-term deal next offseason.

P Pat O’Donnell

The Bears’ starting punter since 2014, O’Donnell only placed 24th in the league with 44.8 yards per punt last year, but he only had four punts go out of bounds and tied for second in the NFL with 26 fair caught punts. He isn’t an elite punter, but he’s a serviceable option, and that should be enough to get him another contract extension.

DB Kevin Toliver II (RFA)

Toliver enters the 2020 season competing for the Bears’ starting cornerback position alongside Kyle Fuller. While Jaylon Johnson will likely be the long-term answer for that job, Toliver is a solid option to have on the roster. He’ll be a restricted free agent next offseason, so he will likely be brought back to the organization.

DB Deon Bush

If Gipson doesn’t win the aforementioned strong safety job, it’ll likely be Bush who gets the gig. Signed to a one-year extension this offseason, the 2016 fourth-round pick is a quality special teamer who has been decent in limited defensive action. He would likely be available to re-sign if the team so chooses.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.

The Bears’ starting ‘Z’ receiver role is currently up for grabs, and Ginn is arguably the favorite to win the position. Though he’s 35 years old and had the third-highest drop rate in the NFL last year, Ginn is still a speedy target who can contribute in the league. Whether he gets re-signed could rely more on if he chooses to continue his playing career.

Other free agents:

  • TE Demetrius Harris
  • OL Rashaad Coward
  • LS Patrick Scales
  • EDGE Barkevious Mingo
  • DB Sherrick McManis
  • DB Artie Burns
  • OL Jason Spriggs
  • DL Brent Urban
  • DB DeAndre Houston-Carson
  • TE J.P. Holtz (ERFA)
  • LB Josh Woods (ERFA)
  • EDGE Isaiah Irving
  • TE Jesper Horsted (ERFA)
  • QB Tyler Bray
  • DB Stephen Denmark (ERFA)
  • RB Ryan Nall (ERFA)
  • DL Abdullah Anderson (ERFA)
  • OL Alex Bars (ERFA)
  • EDGE James Vaughters (ERFA)
  • TE Eric Saubert (UFA)
  • WR Reggie Davis (ERFA)
  • DB Xavier Crawford (ERFA)
  • DB Michael Joseph (ERFA)
  • OL Sam Mustipher (ERFA)
  • OL Corey Levin
  • WR Thomas Ives (ERFA)