I’m excited to see the Chicago Bears’ top three current edge players working out of a three point stance, because to me they all seem better suited to playing 4-3 defensive end anyway. With Chicago moving away from a 3-4, they’ll need to do a little tweaking among their defensive line and outside linebackers, because some of them won’t be able to play in a 40 front. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams did say in his press conference that he plans to be versatile in what he asks his players to do, so he’ll coach to the talent he has and not force his players to do something they aren’t accustomed to doing.
This series started out as a 12-parter, but when I listed out all the guys projected to play defensive line in 2022 I had to break up the defensive ends (edge) and defensive tackles, so it’ll be DE today and DT tomorrow.
In this 13-part series I’ll be listing the contract status of all the current Bears players on a position by position basis, while speculating on some offseason moves that could happen.
Khalil Mack - Signed through 2024 - Mack already made the All-Pro team as a defensive end, so I’m good with the 6’3”, 267 pounder never dropping off into coverage again. Keep him in attack mode, let him hunt quarterbacks, and let him set the edge. His $30 million cap hit has some fans concerned, but his salary isn’t preventing the Bears from conducting business this offseason. He’s not going anywhere, and he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder after missing 10 games last season.
Robert Quinn - Signed through 2024 - Quinn also has already made the All-Pro team from a three point stance, so keep him on the d-line in attack mode. His cap hit is going to a bit more than $17 million, but if he keeps playing at a high level that’s not a big deal.
Trevis Gipson - Signed through 2023 - Gipson played defensive line at Tulsa, so this should be a seamless transition for him. He racked up 7 sacks last season while playing nearly half of the Bears defensive snaps. He needs to keep working on his moves and counter moves, but playing as the first edge off the bench behind two Pro Bowl caliber players is a good place for him to be right now.
Charles Snowden - Signed a Reserve/Futures contract - His transition is one to keep an eye on, because at Virginia he mostly played off the edge, but given his athleticism I could see the Bears asking him to stay at linebacker in their 4-3 base.
Bruce Irvin - Free Agent - Irvin has played some defensive end, but he’s 34 years old and I see no place for him on this roster.
Cassius Marsh Sr. - Free agent - Marsh’s age (he’ll be 30 in June) and fit probably means he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2022.
Jeremiah Attaochu - Signed through 2022 - Attaochou may project to the strongside linebacker spot in the Bears new 4-3, but his entire career has been spent as a 3-4 edge, so I think he’ll asked to play on the line if he’s on the roster next season. He has a couple void years on his deal, but his money won’t prevent the Bears from cutting him if they don’t like the fit in the new defense.
Mario Edwards Jr. - Signed through 2023 - In 2015 and 2017 Edwards started at defensive end opposite Mack when they both played in Oakland. Edwards has some positional flexibility as he could kick inside for defensive tackle too. He also had 2 void years on his deal, but his fit in a 4 man front and the structure of his contract probably means he’ll stick around at least one more season.
2022 OUTLOOK - With a solid threesome at the top of the depth chart, not to mention a big cap hit at the position, free agency makes no sense unless it’s a veteran minimum deal for some depth. I suppose Irvin and/or Marsh could fit the vet min type of deal, but considering where the Bears are as a franchise I’d rather see them use those reserve and practice squad roster spots on UDFAs.
You can never have enough pass rushers, so if a highly rated defensive end fell to them in the draft I could see them pulling the trigger, but this is a position they should feel pretty good about if they stay relatively healthy.