top of page

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

Is A Move For An Edge Imminent For The Chicago Bears?

There's no question that the Chicago Bears' pass rush last season was abysmal. Multiple times there were instances in the 2022 season where the pass rush, or lack thereof, caused the entire defense to collapse and be picked apart.


The stats back this up as well; the Bears ranked dead last in the league in sacks with 20 and 23rd when it came to pass-rush win rate at just 37%. The lack of talent also severely hindered the pass rush, as the Bears ran with Trevis Gipson and 5th-round rookie Dominique Robinson as their top two edge rushers for most of the 2022 season.


Moves For The Chicago Bears In The 2023 Off-Season

In response to the struggles of the pass rush, general manager Ryan Poles made some improvements to bolster the unit in the offseason. The most notable additions were Demarcus Walker and Rasheem Green, two players who have spent their careers as rotational players.


Walker is coming off a career-high 7-sack season, while Green notched a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2021. While both players were solid additions, there seemed to be a long-term solution for the Bears as they were signed to three-year and one-year ear deals, respectively.


Interestingly enough, from what has been a loud offseason from the young GM, apart from adding Walker and Green, Ryan Poles has been eerily quiet on adding edge rushers to the team.


Poles hasn't been afraid of using resources for loading up at other positions on the defense this offseason. He added Andrew Billings in free agency to the defensive tackle room, Gervon Dexter in the 2nd round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and Zacch Pickens in the 3rd round a few picks later.


The Bears GM splashed in free agency with the additions of linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. He also used a second-round pick on Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson. The heavy spending on the defense makes the lack of edge rusher additions all the more interesting. This quiet from Chicago has made NFL fans and pundits speculate that the Bears will make a move for an edge rusher before training camp, which begins on July 25th.


While it is unknown who the Bears will add, a few names have been speculated to be potential additions. While some edge rusher options are more realistic than others, here's a look at three names thrown around.


Most Realistic Option: Yannick Ngakoue, Free Agent


A former 3rd round pick by the Jaguars in 2016, Ngakoue has bounced around multiple teams, playing on five since 2019.


Regardless the 28-year-old pass-rusher has found consistent success in the league, posting 8+ sacks every year of his 7-year career.


He is coming off a 9.5-sack season with the Colts and had a career-high 12 sacks in 2017. As Ngakoue looks for his sixth team, the Chicago Bears are a clear choice.


While Ngakoue never played under Matt Eberflus, Yannick is familiar with the scheme. He found success playing under Gus Bradley's 4-3 defense in both Las Vegas and Indianapolis, recording 19.5 sacks over the two seasons he played under Bradley. Eberflus also runs the 4-3 scheme with his defense so that the transition won't be too harsh.


Another factor in fans clamoring for Ngakoue is the relatively low risk of acquiring him. While trading for an edge rusher requires sacrificing draft picks, signing someone like Ngakoue would only eat up a presumably fair portion of the salary cap. And it is safe to say that the Bears have plenty of cap space.


There is almost no downside to it. If he continues his production, you have a consistent 8+ sack player for the next 2-3 years; if the signing doesn't pan out, you can let him go next offseason. A signing of Ngakoue from Ryan Poles wouldn't surprise me the slightest bit, and it has been pretty much expected from Bears fans since, quite honestly, the offseason began.


Veteran/Bridge Player Option: Justin Houston, Free Agent


Justin Houston is easily the most accomplished player of the three; as Houston enters his 13th season, he has recorded 111.5 career sacks, four pro bowl appearances, and a first-team All-Pro nod. At 34, Houston is still producing as well; he put up 9.5 sacks with the Ravens last season and played a significant role in the Ravens' defense being near the top of the ranks. Bringing someone who has had as much success in the league as Houston to help mentor the players on this incredibly young defense while still producing at a high level will do wonders.


Another big selling point for Houston to the Bears is the familiarity with Matt Eberflus, Houston played under coach Eberflus for two seasons in Indianapolis, where he recorded 19 sacks. Getting a guy who not just knows the system, but has succeeded in it, will pay its dues for other players who are still getting settled in.


Bringing in Justin Houston would most likely happen on a one-year deal until the Bears can find their edge rusher of the future in 2024. My only concern with this signing is if Justin Houston would tolerate playing for a still-rebuilding team.


At 34, he remains without a championship ring; it is safe to say that he doesn't have much time left on his playing days, and I'd assume that he would want to join a contender to win the Super Bowl. The fact that the Bears are still in rebuild mode makes it difficult to believe Justin Houston would be willing to sign a contract with them.


Dream Option: Chase Young, Washington Commanders


It's been a tumultuous road for the former second-overall pick. After winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, Young has failed to match the magic and production of his rookie year. He went from 7.5 sacks in his first year to 1.5 sacks in 9 appearances in his second.


In that ninth game of his sophomore season, Young suffered a gruesome ACL tear that would sideline him until week 16 of the 2022 season. These struggles and setbacks would lead to the Commanders declining Young's fifth-year option. But Chase Young is still easily the most polarizing name on the list. There's a lot to love because of his legendary college career, ability, athleticism, relative success in the NFL, and the fact that he's only 25 years old. The ugly comes with the injury; there's no telling if Chase Young will ever be the same after the injury.


The first few games of the 2021 season were also concerning. Young was expected to break out in 2021 but recorded just 1.5 sacks in 8 fully healthy games, which could indicate that he has already tapped out his potential.


The fact that teams will also have to give up assets (i.e., draft picks) in a trade for Young will also play a huge role. If GMs believe the injury has zapped his athleticism and some ability, they won't risk giving up high draft picks for him and might opt to wait until he hits the open market in 2024.


If Young returns to his former self, you have a potential future superstar on your hands, and any general manager who trades for him will walk away like a bandit. While it would be a dream to have someone like Young, if I were Ryan Poles, I'd steer clear unless I were fully confident Young could return to his former self.


Who Should The Bears Sign?



Who Should The Bears Sign?

  • Yannick Ngakoue

  • Chase Young

  • Justin Houston



I think Ryan Poles should sign Yannick Ngakoue to a two-year deal. This gives you a little bit of both worlds, an experienced and successful player, but also a player that isn't very old and can produce for multiple seasons.


If the Bears plan to make their splash for an edge in 2024, Ngakoue will work as a placeholder for the number 1 edge rusher spot on the depth chart for a year. Then once their significant addition arrives in 2024, Ngakoue would be great as the second edge rusher on the team. Signing Yannick Ngakoue would help the Bears in the present and future with Ryan Poles' rebuild and hopeful return to super bowl contention.



 

Do you play fantasy sports? Check out Trophy Smack for your next league prize! If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the SR Original shows on our Youtube channel!


Also, possibly give our socials (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok) a follow, all of which also have great content!


Commentaires


bottom of page