It’s is a weird time for 30 NFL fan bases currently. The NFL season isn’t technically over yet with the biggest game of the year still to be played this weekend. But come the end of the week, we won’t have another meaningful game until September, so it is impossible to not start looking forward to key dates in the offseason – at least for the aforementioned 30 fan bases.
As Bears fans, we are unfortunately one of those 30.
Hopefully next season, we are one of the two fan bases who are still excited about the current season.
And the first step to getting there is figuring out which current Bears need to be re-signed. This often overlooked aspect of the offseason shapes how teams will attack the more publicized events such as free agency and the draft.
And while we have already taken a look at the Bears biggest decision this offseason in respect to Kyle Fuller, there are a few other players who also deserve another contract, as well as some who don’t.
So what will the Bears do? 🤔
Should Re-sign ✍️
1. ILB Christian Jones
I’ve been a big fan of Jones ever since he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in 2014. He has done everything the Bears have asked him to do in a roller coaster of a career so far. He’s started, switched positions, got benched, switched back to his original position, and started again. Each time he put the team’s needs above his own. He had arguably his best year this season filling in for an injured Jerrell Freeman… And then Nick Kwiatkowski… And then Danny Trevathan.
While he will most likely test free agency looking for an opportunity to start, the Bears would be wise to lock him up. He is an above average player who can start at inside and outside linebacker. Who knows where the Bears defense would have been without him last season.
2. DE Mitch Unrein
I was admittedly harsh on Unrein before the season, even questioning his spot on the roster. But I am here to eat some crow. Unrein was playing extremely well this season before unfortunately suffering a knee injury that would land him on injured reserve. While not a star, Unrein can be a good rotational defensive lineman who can start in a pinch. Ryan Pace deserves a lot of credit for finding a quality player who others were overlooking.
3. WR Kendall Wright
Wright built up some good chemistry with Mitch Trubisky last season, and that is what gets him a second contract in Chicago. Trubisky’s development is priority one through eight this offseason. If Wright helps that in anyway, the Bears cannot afford to let him walk. He will also be much cheaper than similar players like Jarvis Landry – albeit not as talented.
4. P Pat O’Donnell
Fun fact: The Bears almost had as many punting yards as total offensive yards last season. The offense should be greatly improved under Matt Nagy, but we will probably have to punt a few times still. O’Donnell had his best statistical season last season averaging 47.0 yards per punt. He has earned a second contract.
5. OL Tom Compton
Compton was fine in his one season in Chicago. He filled in for Kyle Long and Josh Sitton when they were injured and held his own. He also has the ability to play RT in a pinch. While I am not advocating giving him a large contract, I think he did enough to warrant being the Bears swing offensive lineman next season.
If the price is right 💰
1. CB Prince Amukumara
The Bears, and other teams, weren’t comfortable giving Amukamara a long-term contract last offseason and instead signed him to a one-year “prove it” deal. Unfortunately for him, the only thing he “proved” was what everyone already knew; He is an average second corner and nothing more.
He was fine in that role for the Bears this past season but I would not be surprised if they look elsewhere for an upgrade. However, on the right deal, I would be more than ok having him back.
2. LB Sam Acho
There are three constants in life: Death, taxes, and Sam Acho re-signing with the Bears on a reasonable one-year contract. While only a Bear for three years, Acho has signed three one-year deals the past three off-seasons. He is a good special team player who won’t hurt you if he is forced into action due to injury. Although he doesn’t provide much in terms of a pass rush, he is a solid early down run defender.
Even more impressive is his work off the field. For the second consecutive season, Acho was the Bears nominee for the “Walter Payton Man of the Year” award. He is the type of good locker room guy every team needs.
3. WR Dontrelle Inman
Like Wright above, Inman also showed some chemistry with Trubisky, especially early on. But once teams focused on him, he did not have the same production. He also does not provide much in terms of special team value. For a 4th or 5th wide receiver, special teams are very important. If he is willing to sign a one-year low-value deal, I could see him coming back.
4. ST/CB Sherrick McManis
McManis is listed as a cornerback but provides much of his value on special teams. That being said if he is forced to play due to injury he can hold his own. The Bears can certainly look for someone younger to fill this role, but he has already proven he can do it. Although if he is outplayed in camp, he could still be cut.
5. K Cairo Santos
I don’t know what else to say about Santos besides the Bears need someone who can kick field goals. I expect him to be brought back on a short-term deal. But the Bears should bring some competition in for him as well.
Let walk 🚶♂️
1. OLB Lamarr Houston
Houston was cut at the start of the season but brought back after multiple injuries on the defense (Are you sensing a theme yet?). He actually played really well after being brought back racking up four sacks in five games. While it wouldn’t be out of the question to bring him back, I expect him to be celebrating on another team next season.
2. RB Benny Cunningham
Cunningham didn’t do anything wrong in his lone season with the Bears per se. But what he did do was take valuable playing time away from Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The Bears signed Taquan Mizzell off of waivers from the Ravens last season and he fits what Matt Nagy will want to do in the offense better than Cunningham.
3. ST/WR Josh Bellamy
Bellamy is a strong special team player, but I can’t get the sight of him playing wide receiver for the Bears out of my head. Plus McManis is the better special team player, so Bellamy is the odd man out.
4. OL Bradley Sowell
Sowell and Compton won’t both be re-signed. Compton outplayed him so this was a pretty easy decision.
I typed a variation of the word “injury” a lot above. Which is exactly why re-signing these players is so important. What separates playoff teams from non-playoff teams is good depth. Injuries are up across the league, so teams need more than just bodies behind their starters. They need playmakers.
Some of the players above provide that. Some do not. It’s as simple as that.
The Eagles and Patriots had just as many injuries as everyone else. It is not an accident that they are still playing but instead a result of solid depth. With the right moves, the Bears can put themselves in a similar situation.