As Chicago Bears fans, we are used to regime changes. From Michael McCaskey (remember, he was the acting GM too) to Jerry Angelo to Phil Emery to Ryan Pace, we’ve seen plenty of different people in charge over the last 25 years.
The one thing that has become clear, when a new regime comes in, that general manager wants to build the team in his vision and not tweak a previous regime’s vision. That means many of the players from the previous regime don’t survive. They may not be straight out released, but the odds they receive a second contract (David Montgomery for example) despite how popular some players might be, are certainly decreased.
For Ryan Pace, when the dust settled, he kept 5 players from the previous regime. Those players were Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis and Pat O’Donnell. Think about that. Pace kept just five players, 2 of which were on special teams. Ryan Poles has had two offseasons to remove several of Ryan Pace’s players, but there are still quite a few (14 to be exact) remaining. We take a look at what players remain and the odds that those players receive second contracts (odds are set by me for entertainment purposes, not from an actual sportsbook).
Kindle Vildor: Odds 50 to 1
We start with the biggest longshot and that’s Kindle Vildor. Vildor enters the final year on his contract and already seems to be replaced by Tyrique Stevenson. It’s going to take an injury and a special year for Vildor to find himself a member of the Chicago Bears in 2024 with a new contract, even if that contract is a one year deal.
Larry Borom: Odds 45 to 1
Borom is already a substantial longshot because one, he’s very replaceable and two, Poles is going to want to bring in his own developmental linemen. Borom’s chances of starting ever again (except due to injury) have already been reduced to zero. He’s been replaced on both sides and he makes a perfectly fine swing tackle. But he has two years remaining on his contract and he won’t be on this team after those seasons.
Cairo Santos: Odds 40 to 1
Kickers are always difficult to evaluate and Santos, other than that one stretch, has been pretty good of late. But Santos is 31 years old with a history of injuries. Not to mention, the Bears have already brought in legitimate competition for him with UDFA kicker Andre Szmyt from Syracuse. There’s no guarantee that Santos will lose his job this year, but it certainly seems like his days are numbered in Chicago.
Trevis Gipson: Odds 35 to 1
Gipson is another longshot to stick around. He enters the final year of his rookie deal and he hasn’t really established himself as a legitimate pass rusher. He had a bump in sacks in year two, but his sack total didn’t match his pressure totals, meaning they were more of a fluke than an accurate measurement. Bears fans should expect a significant investment by Poles this upcoming March and April at the edge position and at that point, Gipson will be on a different roster.
Patrick Scales: Odds 25 to 1
Scales is a perfectly good long snapper and he’s actually the longest tenured Chicago Bear on this roster. If Scales was younger, his odds would be much better, but the bottom line here is that Scales is 35 years old and is probably not going to be doing this too much longer. Scales may be the one that bows out and retires before Poles replaces him. Scales has already received a contract extension from Poles technically, these odds are more about will Scales still be on this roster when Poles finishes his rebuild, which is roughly two years from now.
Dieter Eiselen: Odds 20 to 1
Eiselen is another Ryan Pace guy that’s interesting. As a UDFA, he has steadily improved and has continued to find himself with more playing time. He’s become a key member of the line as a backup to the interior. Eiselen’s path to a bigger commitment from Poles will be if he finds his way to the starting center position. But there’s going to be plenty of competition at that position. As an original UDFA, Eiselen is already on a new contract with Poles, he’s more in the Scales category with these odds.
Cody Whitehair: Odds 15 to 1
It might be odd to have Whitehair with odds this low, but I really can’t see Poles give Whitehair another contract after this one. Whitehair has two years remaining on his contract and I think the question with Whitehair is he on the team in 2024, not if he receives a new contract for 2025. Ryan Poles has seemingly committed to Whitehair as the team’s starting center for 2023, but that was probably more because Poles couldn’t overturn every position in one offseason. The odds are good that this is Whitehair’s final year with the Bears.
Eddie Jackson: Odds 12 to 1
Jackson is in a similar boat to Whitehair, but has better odds simply because he’s a better player. Jackson has two years remaining on his contract and will be 30 years old later this year. The odds that the Bears extend a 31-year old Jackson when they will also have to potentially extend Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon around that time will be slim. Jackson doesn’t need to be replaced until the 2025 season. I expect Jackson to be here this year and next year before he departs the team.
Khalil Herbert: Odds 10 to 1
As we learn more about Ryan Poles, we will find out exactly how he will handle the running back position. As of now, it seems that Poles isn’t one to spend big money on running backs. He let David Montgomery walk, and I would expect in two years that Herbert will be headed to a new team as well. Herbert is a one-dimensional player, although he’s outstanding at that dimension (pure runner). Over the next two years, if Herbert greatly develops in the passing game as a blocker and catching the ball, these odds could improve, but I expect Herbert’s time in Chicago to come to an end in two years.
Teven Jenkins: Odds 8 to 1
Of the 14 players, Jenkins is the toughest one for me to figure. Jenkins proved last year that he’s a dynamic run blocker and has that type of nasty that Ryan Poles is looking for. But Jenkins is yet to prove that his body can hold up against a full 17-game season and this regime continues to look hesitant to commit to him. While they’ve now committed to Jenkins as a starter (something they didn’t do until early October last year), they’ve moved his position yet again. If Jenkins becomes a dominant left guard that plays 15 games a year, the Bears may commit to him, but as of now, I think the odds are that Jenkins doesn’t remain a member of this roster after his contract expires in two years.
Jaylon Johnson: Odds 5 to 1
The question on Johnson isn’t if the Bears want him back, it’s going to be a question of how much money Johnson wants and if the Bears are going to be willing to spend at that level. Johnson has proven to be a quality cornerback for Chicago, but Johnson will most likely want to see a contract value near, but probably a little shy of $20 million a year (maybe $17 or $18 million) and I would expect the Bears probably won’t want to go much higher than about $13 million a year. Johnson and the Bears will be talking this offseason, but I doubt that an extension gets done and they will revisit prior to free agency in 2024.
Darnell Mooney: Odds 3 to 2
I think the only way Darnell Mooney isn’t extended on this team is if he struggles with injury or if Chase Claypool has a dynamic season this year. I don’t think either of those things happen. Mooney has excellent chemistry with Justin Fields and the odds that Claypool is electric this year aren’t stellar. The Bears and Mooney should come to an agreement, it could come in August, but odds are they extend him towards the end of the season or prior to free agency in March.
Cole Kmet: Odds 1 to 2
Ryan Poles has already talked about Cole Kmet like he’s going to be on the roster for years to come. He spoke glowingly of him in January and Kmet has also spoken very positively about getting a contract done with the Bears. Kmet is almost certainly going to be extended and I expect it to happen prior to the season at some point in August.
Justin Fields: Odds 1 to 5
The only one stopping Justin Fields from being a Chicago Bear is going to be Justin Fields. This regime has now fully committed to him with a revamped offensive line and several new skill position players as well. If Fields plays poorly this year, there won’t be any excuses and the Bears will look to pivot away from him in 2024. But the expectations are that Fields makes the jump this year. The Bears fully expect it, and so does Justin. It appears the Bears have solved the quarterback dilemma that has plagued this team for 75 years. It’s funny that it appears Ryan Pace solved that problem as a going away present on his way out the door.