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2022 Bears mock offseason: Predicting free agency and the draft

With a head coach and general manager in tow, let’s predict what the Bears could do this offseason.

NFL: Chicago Bears-Head Coach Matt Eberflus Press Conference David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears’ past few weeks can be phrased by WWE Superstar Big E: “It’s a new day, yes it is.”

Matt Eberflus is the team’s new head coach, and Ryan Poles is the team’s new general manager. A change in the guard was long overdue, and the new tandem will look to propel the Bears back to the top of the NFC North going forward.

Though the Bears have quite a bit of work to do before they can be considered a playoff contender, they have something they haven’t had in a few years: cap flexibility. They have a lot of roster spots to fill, but they could use this offseason to maximize their long-term outlook.

I used the mock Bears offseason simulator made by Quinten Krzysko of On Tap Sports Net, and you can use the simulator to create your own depth chart, as well. All salary projections come from the document, and I used the mock draft simulator from NFL Mock Draft Database to make my draft selections. Both are fantastic tools that I can’t recommend enough.

Without further ado, let’s get going on our 2022 mock Bears offseason.

Starting cap space available: $40,935,664

Cuts/trades

  • Trade QB Nick Foles to Giants for Pick 181 (Round 6) - $8 million
  • Cut RB Tarik Cohen - $2.25 million
  • Cut LB Danny Trevathan post-June 1 - $3.5 million
  • Cut DL Eddie Goldman - $6.66 million
  • Cut EDGE Jeremiah Attaochu - $1.9 million
  • Cut LB Caleb Johnson - $822,666

To create some additional cap space, I had to part ways with a handful of players. Trading away Nick Foles could be easier said than done, but the Giants may consider acquiring a veteran better than Mike Glennon to push Daniel Jones, so Foles could be a nice addition for them for a Day 3 pick.

None of the bigger names here should be all that surprising as cuts, though I decided to cut almost everyone pre-June 1 to avoid pushing too much rollover cap into the future, except for Danny Trevathan, whose contract only really makes sense to get out of with a post-June 1 move. Jeremiah Attaochu is coming off of an injury and could be a casualty with Trevis Gipson off the edge, while Caleb Johnson ended up getting cut at the end of the whole process, though he still makes sense as a practice squad keeper.

Current cap space available: $64,068,737

Re-signings

  • Re-sign OG James Daniels to five-year, $50 million deal
  • Re-sign WR/ST Jakeem Grant to one-year, $2.42 million deal
  • Re-sign CB Artie Burns to one-year, $1.04 million deal
  • Re-sign C Sam Mustipher to one-year, $819,000 deal
  • Re-sign TE Jesper Horsted to one-year, $819,000 deal
  • Re-sign S Deon Bush to one-year, $1.58 million deal
  • Re-sign S DeAndre Houston-Carson to one-year, $1.18 million deal
  • Re-sign OG Alex Bars to one-year, $892,500 deal
  • Re-sign LS Patrick Scales to one-year, $1.24 million deal
  • Re-sign P Pat O’Donnell to one-year, $1.84 million deal
  • Re-sign WR Dazz Newsome to one-year, $645,750 deal (EDIT: With Dazz signed to the active 53-man roster from the practice squad towards the end of the 2021 season, he’s now signed through the 2022 season.)

Most of these are pretty standard re-signings, but I ultimately decided to make James Daniels my lone splash re-signing. Investing in the offensive line is a smart move that Ryan Poles will likely pursue. Daniels had a solid year in 2021, and he arguably makes more sense to re-sign than a Bilal Nichols or an Akiem Hicks.

Current cap space available: $42,400,446

Free agency signings

  • Sign Chiefs CB Charvarius Ward to three-year, $28.5 million deal
  • Sign Rams C Brian Allen to three-year, $21.75 million deal
  • Sign Cowboys WR Michael Gallup to four-year, $55 million deal
  • Sign Browns LB Anthony Walker Jr. to one-year, $2.1 million deal
  • Sign 49ers DL Maurice Hurst to one-year, $1.10 million deal
  • Sign Cowboys S Malik Hooker to one-year, $966,000 deal
  • Sign Saints QB Trevor Siemian to one-year, $1.04 million deal
  • Sign Raiders LB Nicholas Morrow to one-year, $1.18 million deal
  • Sign Giants EDGE Lorenzo Carter to one-year, $1.07 million deal
  • Sign Packers OT Dennis Kelly to one-year, $1.39 million deal
  • Sign Bills RB Matt Breida to one-year, $1.11 million deal
  • Sign Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown to one-year, $1.04 million deal
  • Sign Steelers LB/S Miles Killebrew to one-year, $1.18 million deal

The Bears have some room to make a couple bigger moves with their cap space, though they do need to fill a lot of roster holes. I decided to attack the three biggest needs on their roster: wide receiver, cornerback and offensive line.

Charvarius Ward is a stud at cornerback who excels in man coverage and could be a very nice complement to Jaylon Johnson on the outside. Brian Allen is a standout zone blocker who brings quickness and tenacity in the run game, and Michael Gallup — though coming off of an ACL tear — is a fantastic talent who might even be had at a cheaper price.

The other signings are cheaper deals with upside, some of whom having ties to new Bears hires. Anthony Walker Jr. and Malik Hooker have both played for Matt Eberflus and could step in as cheap stopgap starters, Maurice Hurst has ties to Rod Marinelli — who’s close with Eberflus and could be a defensive line coaching hire — and the likes of Kelly and St. Brown have played with new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Current cap space: $9,749,697 with 45 players

Draft picks

Trade: No. 71 (Round 3) to Colts for No. 82 (Round 3), No. 118 (Round 4) and No. 216 (Round 6)

  • No. 39: Purdue WR David Bell
  • No. 82: Houston CB Marcus Jones
  • No. 118: LSU LB Damone Clark
  • No. 146: North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko
  • No. 148: Nevada TE Cole Turner
  • No. 181: Missouri RB Tyler Badie
  • No. 185: Tennessee OG Cade Mays
  • No. 216: Tennessee DL Matthew Butler

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knew what the pick was going to be for the Bears in Round 2. I promise I’ll mix things up and won’t mock Bell to Chicago every time, but with him available in the mock simulation, it was too good to pass up. The Purdue standout is a big-bodied, physical receiver with great hands and a high route-running IQ along the boundary.

Trading back gave me a few more Day 3 picks for the Bears, and I was still able to snag a dynamic defensive back in the third round. Not only is Marcus Jones a ball-hawking cornerback with 5 interceptions and 13 pass deflections in 2021, but he’s also an elite return man with 9 collegiate return touchdowns. He’s a smaller, yet scrappy corner with elite speed, good instincts and fluid hips.

The Bears will likely still run out of the nickel pretty often, but if they switch to a base 4-3 defense, they’ll need some more help at linebacker. Damone Clark falling this far was a surprise to me, as he’s a high-motored prospect with very good speed who can shed blocks well near the line of scrimmage. He can project as a WILL or SAM at the next level, and it’s likely he could contribute early on in his career.

If you’re looking for developmental upside at offensive tackle, Matt Waletzko is your guy in this class. The small-school lineman is 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds with long arms and an enticing combination of grip strength and mobility. He’s coordinated and generates good push up front, and with some good coaching, he possesses starter upside at the NFL level.

Cole Turner projects as great value at No. 148 and could be a great complement to Cole Kmet. He’s a power forward-type tight end who can box out defenders with ease in the red zone and high-point the ball in tight coverage. An above-average athlete with some size to him, Turner could make the Bears’ 12 personnel packages something for opposing teams to be worried about.

Running back is a luxury pick for the Bears here, but Tyler Badie is a player I believe is worth that luxury. A Doak Walker Award finalist for the best back in the nation, Badie is an explosive runner with deceptive power for his size and great hands out of the backfield. He carried the Missouri offense in 2021, and he could prove to be a steal at the next level.

Having 10 offensive linemen on the active roster might seem like overkill, but Cade Mays is strong value at No. 185. An experienced and versatile collegiate lineman who has played at every single offensive line position in his career, he is a powerful blocker who wins with leverage in the run game and can generate push up front.

Eberflus typically runs with a 3-technique and a true nose, and while the likes of Edwards, Hurst and Blackson fill those roles on this roster, Khyiris Tonga is probably the only player who can consistently play over the center. Butler is a big-bodied interior defender with a refined arsenal in his hands, good acceleration off the ball, and the raw power needed to eat up gaps in the run game.

53-man roster

Bears 53-man roster - the DL Pick 185 is actually Pick 216, but the spreadsheet wouldn’t allow it