The Chicago Bears have several free agents, 35 to be exact, and whether they be of the unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive rights variety, new general manager Ryan Poles has a ton of decisions to make. The new offensive and defensive scheme will dictate some of his roster moves, but there are plenty of players that could return to play for either offensive coordinator Luke Getsy or defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
I asked the Windy City Gridiron staff to answer a couple free agent related questions for a mini-roundtable series, and today’s was about the 1 pending free agent they want to see the Bears re-sign.
After you check out what we had to say, be sure you guys all give your thoughts in the comment section on your pick.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter - It’s a toss-up for me. I’d love to have Allen Robinson return; however, it seems that bridge has been burned down some time ago. Akiem Hicks would make a great deal of sense with the Bears’ shift to a 4-3 front set to happen, yet he’s also on the wrong side of 30. For all intents and purposes of building for the long-term, Bilal Nichols is my priority in comparison to the other re-signings. He’s the most logical candidate to play as the 3-tech on defense, and he’s shown solid progression through every season of his career so far. I’d like to see what new Bears DL coach Travis Smith can do with the large yet explosive Bilal Nichols who’s lined up in every position between the 5 and 0 since 2018.
Jack Salo - Alec Ogletree, for the right price. This team needs an overhaul and there aren’t many free agents to-be from the Bears roster who look more promising than a cheap rookie would be. The money left in Danny Trevathan’s contract is going to be a tough pill to swallow whether they keep him one more year or not. If they rip the bandaid off now, Ogletree can fill the spot while they groom a rookie ILB.
Robert Zeglinski - After some early rough patches, I think James Daniels was one of the NFL’s better guards last year. He found comfort on the interior and despite an inept offense, was a bright spot for the Bears’ offensive line. He’s also, definitely, not “soft” anymore (not sure why that label is still used for him). I can’t imagine he’ll break the bank, and I’d like Chicago to reward him with a long-term investment.
Sam Householder - I realize that it’s dead and gone, the bridge is burned, but I’d still love to see Allen Robinson return. Maybe the new coach and GM can get a dialogue going with his agent and patch things up, but I know it’s just another pipe dream. He isn’t coming back. So then I guess my 1A is James Daniels. You have to reward a homegrown talent, even if it was the last regime’s guy and frankly, letting him walk creates another hole on an offensive line full of holes and question marks.
Patti Curl - Call me sentimental, but I want to see Akiem Hicks retire in navy and orange. The injuries may be more frequent as he’s aged, but nothing has convinced he’s not still a difference maker when healthy and a brilliant leader who can certainly help the team transition to a new scheme and culture. Let’s say 20 years, 200 million to make sure we get this done.
Robert Schmitz - I’m with Patti, I think Akiem Hicks makes a lot of sense — the Bears don’t have a wild amount of money to spend and need a difference-making 3-tech for Eberflus’ scheme, so I’d see if Hicks (32 years old, injury concerns) is willing to take less than expected (4-5 Million per-year, 2 year deal) to stay in his favorite city. He’s a leader in the locker room, a warrior on the field, and would fill a need the Bears surely can’t afford to spend draft capital on this year.
Honorable mention: James Daniels makes a lot of sense too, but he’ll depend on how much the Bears really want to spend in Free Agency. He seems to want to hit the market, which could jack his price up quickly.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. - If it’s just one, then my one is The Dream. Hicks is sure to have some offers around the NFL, but at this point in his career he’s not going to come close to that $12 million cap hit he had a season ago. Spotrac is projecting a 2 year contract for a bit more than $11 million, and Pro Football Focus has his projection at 2 years for $17 million. If we split that difference and call it a 2 year, $14 million deal with about half guaranteed, then I think that gets it done.