The 2022 season was a rough one for the Chicago Bears. They finished the season losing 10 straight games and had a lowly 3-14 record on the season. But if it’s possible, they had the best worst season possible.
Two things happened last year. One, Justin Fields emerged as one of the most exciting players in the NFL. And two, and thanks in part to Lovie Smith’s Houston Texans winning the final game of the season, the Bears finished with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Before we look at the additions that general manager Ryan Poles made, let’s look at the departures first.
Offensively, backup quarterback Trevor Siemian has moved on and is now a part of the Cincinnati Bengals. At wide receiver, Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry are no longer members of the team and both are yet to sign with a new one.
David Montgomery departed the running back room this offseason and signed with the Detroit Lions with a three-year, $18 million contract, with $8.75 million of that guaranteed. Along the offensive line, Sam Mustipher left via free agency and signed with the Baltimore Ravens for the league minimum.
On defense, the Bears had no key departures in their secondary. At linebacker, Nicholas Morrow signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive line lost several members. Armon Watts, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Mike Pennel and Angelo Blackson have all departed. Watts signed with the Steelers. Blackson signed with the Ravens. Pennel and Muhammad remain unsigned.
Poles got to work this offseason and made massive changes to the roster.
The biggest move was adding wide receiver D.J. Moore. That was done when Poles shipped the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the ninth pick this year, the Panthers’ first-round pick next year, their second-round pick in 2025, as well as Moore. Poles wasn’t done adding at wide receiver, he also selected Cincinnati wide receiver Tyler Scott in the fourth round as well.
At quarterback, P.J. Walker was brought in to back-up Fields. D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer were added to the running back room via free agency, and Texas running back Roschon Johnson was added in the fourth round of the draft. They also brought in Robert Tonyan to bolster the tight ends behind Cole Kmet.
On defense, the Bears added Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson in the second round of the draft to bolster their secondary. They overhauled their linebackers completely. Jack Sanborn is still there, but both Tremaine Edmunds (Buffalo Bills) and T.J. Edwards (Philadelphia Eagles) were added in free agency. Up front, the Bears added DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green at defensive end. In the middle, they added Andrew Billings (Las Vegas Raiders) via free agency and added Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens in the second and third round of the draft.
The 2023 Chicago Bears are going to look wildly different. The Bears brought in potentially as many as 10 new starters this season. Davis and Wright will be the new-look right side of the Bears offensive line. They will feature a committee at running back with four viable backs there and obviously Moore, the biggest addition of the offseason, looks to be Fields’ top target in the passing game.
Edmunds looks to be the new feature piece of the defense after signing a four-year, $72 million contract. Edmunds will handle the MIKE duties as head coach Matt Eberflus looks to use more Cover 2 concepts like Lovie Smith’s defenses from 15 years ago. In this case, the hope would be that Edmunds can play the role of Brian Urlacher. Edwards will handle the WILL duties.
Up front on defense, expect a heavy rotation. The Bears will look to mix their rookies and veterans together as they try to piece together a decent defensive line, easily their weakest position group on the team.
The Bears currently have the 18th-best odds to win the Super Bowl at DraftKings Sportsbook at +5000. Not exactly stellar odds, but definitely a big step up from a team that finished with the worst record in the NFL. In the NFC North, the Bears are +400 to win the division behind the Detroit Lions (+140) and the Minnesota Vikings (+290). The Bears’ win total has been set at 7.5, with the over coming in at -130 and the under coming in at +110. If you don’t know gambling numbers too well, that means the odds are stating that it’s slightly more likely that the Bears finish with 8 or more wins than 7 or fewer wins.
The Bears are still a work in progress. Ryan Poles has two first-round picks to work with in the 2024 NFL Draft as well as plenty of more money to use in free agency. The Bears have a good chance to be a formidable team in 2024, but 2023 is a transition year.
If Justin Fields has a truly great breakout season, the Bears could be in contention to be a worst-to-first type team, but most likely the Bears will be a vastly improved team that’s still one season away from competing for the Lombardi Trophy.