If the 2019 Chicago Bears plan on making the same kind of jump the 2018 Los Angeles Rams did, they must find ways to add high-caliber players, just as the Rams did. They simply can’t sit back and let the rest of the division catch up to them.
The Rams went into the 2018 offseason with a goal to get better and did they ever. They traded for Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks and Aqib Talib. They signed Ndamukong Suh. Once the season started, they traded for Dante Fowler and signed C.J. Anderson. All six of these players were essential to their reaching Super Bowl LIII.
At every turn, the Rams had an eye toward making their roster better. Talib and Suh were both veterans whose previous teams decided to move on. Peters and Cooks were young players who most figured would be re-upping with their former teams. But, alas, the Rams saw opportunities and made moves.
The Bears need to do the same. Who they can get remains to be seen.
The hot name is Kareem Hunt. Of course, before any debate about whether or not he deserves another chance in the NFL begins, the league has to announce his suspension. For a Bears team needing some more punch from the running back position, Hunt is a perfect fit. He has shown to be a dynamic player and won’t cost much. But there’s the moral issue of signing a player with a history of violence toward women.
A couple of other veterans who could have a huge impact for the Bears are Stephen Gostkowski and Robbie Gould. Anyone who doesn’t understand how important that position can be didn’t watch the playoffs this year. Both players have a history of making big kicks, often times doing so in bad weather. If the Bears had either in 2018, it isn’t out of the question they’d still be playing.
The Bears, and every other team in the league, could also use more outside pass rush. Leonard Floyd still hasn’t proven to be a consistent rusher and, even so, the team needs a third player on the edge to keep Mack and Floyd fresh (or in case of injury). Aaron Lynch started well with the Bears, but disappeared down the stretch. The Bears could look at a pair of soon-to-be former Broncos in Shaquil Barrett or Shane Ray on one-year prove-it deals or eye a veteran like Clay Matthews.
Instead of bringing back Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos, the Bears could look at veterans like Tyrann Mathieu and Earl Thomas. After all, what the Rams proved in 2018 is that the salary cap is an obstacle, not a restriction.
The Bears should naturally improve with their young players developing, but the Jaguars thought the same thing. It doesn’t always happen the way teams dream it up. The Rams, to their credit, had a plan to continue being aggressive and they did.
The Bears won’t have a lot of salary cap space or draft capital, so it won’t be as easy for them as it was for the Rams — who at least had a full slate of draft picks. The Bears may not be able to bring in a high-priced free agent, or trade draft picks for a Pro Bowler, but they have to find a way to get better.
As Ryan Pace said, they’re either going to get better or they’re going to be worse.