The Chicago Bears need an edge. The fans know this. Ryan Poles knows this. Everybody knows this. Poles has been playing the long game trying to land a veteran to play in Chicago this season. I think most expected that edge to be signed prior to training camp, but that hasn’t happened and there are plenty of reasons for it. But let’s look at some of the best options out there and if there’s a chance they would come to Chicago.
Let’s start with everybody’s favorite, and that’s Chase Young. Young certainly looked the part as a rookie, but after a significant injury in his second season, Young has basically missed the last season and a half with ongoing issues. Last season, he played in just three games. Washington has declined his fifth-year option making this his final season under contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s just going to be dumped by the team.
If Young plays this season and proves he’s healthy and effective, he could high as much as a first round pick if not more. Teams love Young’s attributes, and as a rookie he showed that he has what it takes at this level, but he hasn’t been able to show that same ability the last two seasons. Is it worth it to just dump Young for a fourth round pick this year? Or is it worth rolling the dice and potentially be able to tag and trade him next year for significant draft capital? The answer is pretty obvious to me. It’s worth the gamble to wait on Young and see how he plays. He could have another poor season, and that means he will just walk for nothing, but the possibility that he has a big season is worth waiting for Washington.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 5%
Houston is another player that people love to connect the dots to Chicago. He has ties to Ryan Poles as both of them spent significant time together in Kansas City, and he spent time in Indianapolis with Matt Eberflus. Houston is still an effective pass rusher. But does Houston fit what Chicago needs? Houston is 34 years old. If Chicago signs him, it would absolutely be on a one-year deal, and he would be on a new team or retired in 2024.
I think Poles wants to sign someone that he at least sees here for two, perhaps three seasons. He wants someone under 30 that can potentially grow with this defense and have a role moving forward. If he’s going to have someone on the field to take snaps away from some of the youth on the team, he’s going to want it to be a piece that can potentially be a part of this defense, not a one season mercenary. Houston is a talented player who could mentor some of the youth the Bears have on the defensive line. The dots are easy to connect, but I think Houston and the Bears are on different timelines.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 20%
Of all the guys on this list, I think Clowney is the least likely. Clowney is not what the Bears need. I mean, he is in terms of him having the ability to be a competent edge, something the Bears are currently lacking, but while Clowney can set the edge and draw attention to himself from the offense, he’s never been great at getting to the quarterback. While the Bears’ defensive line needs help stopping the run and getting to the quarterback, they absolutely need to prioritize someone that can rush the passer more than Clowney can.
Clowney is also 30-years old and he isn’t nearly as effective as he once was. While Houston could be somewhat of a mentor to some of the younger players, I don’t know if that’s in Clowney’s personality to do that. He’s looking for his fifth team in six years and at this point, Clowney is looking for cash and to extend his career. That’s not what Poles has in mind.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 3%
Some of you might be pausing in the middle of this article to say, “Who?” Huff certainly doesn’t have the name value that these other players do, but in some ways, he’s more productive. Huff is in what is most likely the deepest edge room in the league with the New York Jets. When he’s on the field, he can get to the quarterback, but with such a crowded room, he just doesn’t see many reps.
Huff has long been rumored to be on the trading block as New York can’t possibly keep everyone in their edge room and if Huff isn’t going to play much, might as well try to get something in return for him. Those trade rumors surfaced weeks ago but nothing has come to fruition. Is the Jets asking price too much for an unproven edge? That asking price may drop as we approach the season. However, the Jets may want to get Huff on the field in September, let him flash a few times and try to trade him before the deadline. We shall see.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 22%
I think Ngakoue fits more in the role of what the Bears are looking for. Now, first, I’ll state the negative. Ngakoue is about to be on his sixth team in five years. That’s right, not his fifth team in six years, his sixth team in five years. He certainly bounces around despite putting up pretty reliable pass rushing numbers. Ngakoue can’t stop the run. At all. You’d be at 50-50 odds if you just grabbed someone off Michigan Avenue and threw some pads on him and told him to set the edge on a running play that they could do a better job than Ngakoue.
But the bottom line here is Ngakoue can get to the quarterback. He has recorded between 8 and 12 sacks every season of his career and has the pressure stats to back that up. Plus, Ngakoue is only 28 and far more likely to be able to be in Chicago for two or three years at that age as a designated pass rusher.
If Eberflus can create a role where Ngakoue isn’t on the field often, but strictly comes in on passing downs and is told to pin his ears back and go after the quarterback, he could be a very effective player for this team. When Poles adds more talent to the edge room next year, Ngakoue could still fit as the designated pass rusher.
At this point in the season, the Bears aren’t going to find TJ Watt out there. Every player has their flaws, but I think Ngakoue can give this defensive line a boost where they need it the most.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 30%
These are certainly the leading contenders right now in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean that they are the only names out there. There are some players out there like Melvin Ingram that could garner interest, but most of the names beyond this group are a longshot. There’s always a possibility that something else develops with another team that creates an expendable player via a trade or a surprise release that nobody is discussing.
We can never close the door completely on something coming out of left field, especially from Ryan Poles, so we won’t just limit ourselves to the names above. The field always is in play when you are playing the odds.
Chances of becoming a Bear: 9%
For a team that’s not quite ready to win, this, of course, is always a possibility. Ryan Poles is certainly going to try and land an edge to bolster this defense, but there’s always a chance that price tags remain too high or that free agents aren’t looking to come to a team, that while improved, is still coming off a 3-14 season. If the Bears don’t add anyone at edge between now and week one, it won’t be because of a lack of effort, but it’s always a possibility.
Chances of no one becoming a Bear: 11%