Heading into the 2017-18 season, few, if any, expected the Philadelphia Eagles to emerge as the powerhouse they ultimately became en route to winning Super Bowl LII. Despite the presence of a promising, young quarterback, a creative offensive scheme, and a few key free agency additions, the Eagles were seen as a team not yet ready to contend. Philadelphia, of course, proved everyone wrong on their way to the Lombardi trophy, but the team also laid down the blueprint for how to contend quickly — and there’s one team that looks awfully similar to last offseason’s Eagles, and they could be ready to take the league by storm in much the same way as Philadelphia.
Added Offensive Creativity
The Chicago Bears have a promising, young quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, and figure to have an exciting new offensive scheme with new head coach, Matt Nagy, and offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, each bringing new elements to an offense that desperately needs an infusion of creativity. Trubisky didn’t put up great numbers in his rookie season with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he wasn’t exactly throwing to an all-star group of pass-catchers either. Kendall Wright was the team’s best receiver this past season, and while Wright is a fine player, any team relying on him as a No. 1 option should expect their quarterback to struggle.
Luckily, the Bears can fix their underwhelming receiver group through the same shrewd moves that allowed the Eagles to put together one of the league’s better collection of receivers. Armed with just under $40 million in cap space heading into the offseason, the Bears can create an additional $29 million in cap room just by releasing underperforming veterans like Mike Glennon, Pernell McPhee, Markus Wheaton, and Bobbie Massie. By releasing those four players, the Bears would be looking at about $68 million free to spend on what looks like a solid wide receiver free agent class.
Finding Targets for Trubisky
A guy like Jarvis Landry, though not elite, would make a lot of sense as a reliable target for Trubisky. Landry won’t be cheap, but after setting an NFL-record with 400 receptions in his first four NFL seasons, he would certainly give the offense a boost. In addition to Landry, the team could look to sign a bigger, athletic receiver, much like the Eagles did with Alshon Jeffery. Picking up a player like Terrelle Pryor, who should be relatively cheap coming off a down-season, would make a lot of sense. Throw in whatever the team might be able to get from 2015 first round pick Kevin White, and suddenly the Bears have a viable receiving corps on par with the Eagles group of receivers.
While those moves would almost certainly improve Chicago’s roster, the thing that could really put the Bears over the top is the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. In what is one of the better draft classes in recent history, the Bears — provided they make the moves needed in free agency — will be in a position to select an impact player capable of putting the team over the top. Somebody like linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, a versatile, athletic linebacker, or Derwin James, an explosive safety would make a lot of sense and perhaps give Chicago the same type of explosive defense that Philadelphia relied on last season.
In a league where teams can come out of nowhere to become contenders, the Chicago Bears look like they could be the big surprise. This team is incredibly similar to the Eagles team we just watched end the season with an historic Super Bowl victory. And though we shouldn’t crown the Bears as champions just yet, it’s clear things are looking up in the Windy City.