The Off-Season Outlook is a team-by-team series that will look at all 32 NFL teams and give a quick snapshot of everything fantasy relevant position as we enter the off-season. All salary cap estimates are taken from sportrac.com which I can’t vouch for enough. They are my one stop shop for all things contracts and cap space related. Feel free to send any feedback to @robbyjeffries on Twitter.
Team: Chicago Bears
Cap Space: $39,666,517 (11th most)
Round 1 Draft Picks: 8th Overall Pick
Fantasy Relevant Impending Free Agents:
Cameron Meredith, WR (RFA)
Kendall Wright, WR
Dontrelle Inman, WR
Zach Miller, TE
Less than two months after signing Mike Glennon to be their starting quarterback, the Bears sold the farm to move up one spot in the 2017 draft and select the ex-Tarheel Mitchell Trubisky. Bears fans were simply ecstatic. . .can you hear the sarcasm dripping off the keyboard? With players like Josh Bellamy and Tanner Gentry starting games at WR, Chicago fans knew it would be a long season. Following the season, the organization moved on from Coach John Fox and hired Kansas City’s offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to lead them into the 2018 season. With young pieces across the offense, Nagy will have his work cut out for him as he looks to add pieces through free agency and in the NFL Draft.
QB: Mike Glennon struggled through the first four games and was swiftly benched for Trubisky who, admittedly, produced similar results. Bears’ fans have reason for optimism however, as Coach Nagy turned Alex Smith into a legitimate QB1 this past year after years of Smith being simply a game manager. Trubisky might not have shown a ton of promise, but he showed enough for the Bears to move forward with him at the helm. Nagy and company hopes to improve the weapons around Trubisky as well as the offensive line this summer.
RB: The one position of stability for the Bears this past season was at running back, where Jordan Howard had his second straight season of over 1,100 rushing yards. While his yards per carry dipped down to 4.1, Howard often faced stacked boxes with little threat of a passing attack the entire year. Rookie Tarik Cohen seemed to be the perfect 3rd down complement as Cohen hauled in 53 receptions on the year. This position won’t receive much attention as third stringer Benny Cunningham is the only back with the potential to be elsewhere in 2018. The Bears could draft someone late but the majority of these snaps will be held for Howard and Cohen.
WR: Oh, where does one even begin? Cameron Meredith, the team’s default #1 after a strong breakout season in 2016, tore his ACL before the 2017 even commenced. The 7th overall pick of the 2015 draft, Kevin White, has played in a grand total of 5 games in three years and missed almost the entire 2017 season with a broken scapula. The “bust” label will be all but sealed on White’s career if he doesn’t do something in 2018. Behind Meredith and White was fantasy wasteland, with Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Tre McBride, and Tanner Gentry all taking starting snaps for the Bears. Top receiver Kendall Wright and mid-season acquisition Dontrelle Inman are both free agents this off-season and are questionable to return to Chicago. It’s possible that one of them re-signs but I would venture to guess that the Bears will target a WR early in the draft. At 9th overall, it might be too early to take a wide out in the first round, but if Courtland Sutton (SMU) or James Washington (Oklahoma St.) falls to the early second round, Chicago won’t be able to call in the pick fast enough for either of them.
TE: I have seen a lot of sports injuries in my life and Zach Miller’s was right on par with some of the more gruesome dislocations I’ve unfortunately witnessed in my life. Thankfully, doctors were able to save his leg which was in question for some time following his brutal leg dislocation and I personally wish Miller a full recovery. Thus, it looks as if the era of Adam Shaheen is here. The surprising second round pick in 2017 had only one real season of production at Ashland (quickly does a google search for Ashland), a Division II college. There has been a lot of hype about his size and athleticism and he should be a safety valve for Mitch Trubisky this season.
2018 Lineup Prediction:
QB – Mitch Trubisky
RB – Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen
WR – Cameron Meredith
WR – James Washington
WR – Kendall Wright
TE – Adam Shaheen