The biggest position of need this offseason for the Bears is a defensive tackle. They struggled to stop the run tremendously this past season. Luckily for them, the defensive tackle free agent class is solid. The Bears have $115 million in cap space to spend, and building the trenches should be the top priority. Let’s take a look at some potential options for the Bears.
Da’Ron Payne, Commanders
The Commanders still can franchise tag Da’Ron Payne, but if he hits the open market, he will be one of the best free agents in the class. His ability to rush the passer is insane, as he just came off an 11.5-sack season. He also put up 64 tackles last year. Payne can change the Bears front in an instant. According to Spotrac, he’s projected to get $19.4 million a year. A hefty price, but Payne is only 25 years old and just had a phenomenal season. He can change the Bears front in an instant. And with the large amount of cap space they have, paying for a young stud for your D-line would be a good investment. Payne should be the Bears top priority when it comes to the position.
Javon Hargrave, Eagles
Hargrave is the next best option at defensive tackle. He’s putting up great numbers this season: 11 sacks, and 60 total tackles. Hargrave is someone that can be your main run-stopper. He will make an impact in both the run game and get the quarterback. The mystery right now is how much he will get paid. Hargrave turn 30 this offseason. In 2020, he signed a 3-year, 39-million-dollar contract. We could see a similar average salary of $13 million per year this offseason, and maybe even a little more than that. The Bears should have their eye on him. Poles will have to get a feel for what he’s worth, and what other teams are willing to pay. If you can get a younger Da’Ron Payne for a little extra money per year, then he should do that. But Javon Hargrave is a solid option for the Bears, and he should be at the top of their list.
Dalvin Tomlinson, Vikings
Tomlinson has been very consistent over the years. In five out of his six seasons, he put up over 40 tackles. He’s been one of the bright spots on the Vikings defense, and he will hit the open market in March. Spotrac projects Tomlinson will make about $8.5 million per year. He's a solid option, and you don’t necessarily have to break the entire bankroll doing so. If Poles wants to go all in on fixing the defensive line, he could sign a guy like Da’Ron Payne or Javon Hargrave, and then also try and sign Tomlinson for around $8 million.
David Onyemata, Saints
Another guy in the class that has been consistent throughout his career. Onyemata is going to get 30-plus tackles in a season. In only one of his eight seasons, he failed to put up 30 tackles. He will be entering his eighth season in the league, and his market value is projected to be around $9.6 million per year. Similar to Tomlinson, Onyemata is going to be productive on the line. He’s not necessarily a superstar, but he wlll go to battle in the trenches. Similar to Tomlinson, Poles could sign someone a little older and pair him with a top free agent or even someone from the draft.
A lot of options for the Bears come March. Ryan Poles said he wants to build through the trenches. He needs to at least get one of these guys to help the run defense that was one of the worst in the 2022 campaign.