After sneaking into the playoffs and free agency quickly approaching, the Chicago Bears have several questions that will need answering. The Bears have numerous players set to become free agents in 2021. Unfortunately for the team, cap space could be a massive hindrance.
The Bears offense could look quite different in 2021 due to free agency
It starts with who will be under center for the Bears. The Bears didn’t pick up the fifth-year option of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky before the season, leading many to believe his days were numbered in Chicago.
The looming decision on Trubisky
However, that was before the Bears went 6-3 with him as their starting QB, making the playoffs at 8-8. Trubisky played well and beat the teams he should have in 2021. Five of Trubisky’s nine games came against teams in the bottom five in yards per attempt allowed. He didn’t play a single team inside the top 10. Yet, Trubisky still finished as the 24th-ranked QB out of 35 qualified passers in yards per attempt.
Four of his games were against the bottom three teams in passer rating (Lions twice, Texans, and Jaguars). Minnesota and Atlanta were bottom 10, and he faced none inside the top 12. Trubisky ranked 20th of 35 QBs.
He averaged 20 of 30 passing for 205.5 yards with 1.6 TDs and 0.8 INTs per game in 2020.
Did he do enough to warrant a new contract? Sportrac has his estimated value at around two-years, $16.7 million. After starting, being benched, then starting again, it is uncertain what the Bears will do with their QB as free agency approaches.
The Bears will likely lose Allen Robinson as he becomes a free agent
Somehow the Bears allowed themselves to get to this position. One of the best WRs in the NFL becomes a free agent, and the split seems inevitable.
Prior to the season, the two sides could never reach an agreement leading to a somewhat contentious partnership. Reports about a requested trade circulated, and even teammates started a social media campaign to #ExtendARob. Things reached a boiling point when they chose to extend RB Tarik Cohen rather than work something out with their top receiver. All Robinson did from that point was have another underrated season as one of the best players in the NFL.
He finished sixth in receptions with 102. Robinson saw the third-highest number of targets at 151, which accounted for 25% of the Bears’ total and was 40.5% of the WR group’s total targets. He was ninth in yards with 1,250 and scored six touchdowns. His 102 receptions marked him as just one of six wide receivers to surpass 100 receptions.
I don’t see how the Bears and Allen Robinson find a way to work things out in free agency. Especially considering the Bears are projected to be $89,572 over the cap. Sure they could find wiggle room to free up a few million, but Robinson is looking in the range north of $18 million per year.
The Bears will need to decide on 2021 free agent Cordarrelle Patterson
The other main offensive component is WR/RB/TE/KR Cordarrelle Patterson.
Even with some offensive misuse, he was the team’s best special teams player. Patterson was named a first-team All-Pro kick returner and a Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro specialist in 2019. He followed it up in 2020 with a repeat performance and was named as a first-team All-Pro kick returner. He serves as the team’s lone representative on the first-team All-Pro roster.
This marks the fourth time Patterson has been named a first-team All-Pro, having done so in 2013, 2016, and 2019. He also has three second-team All-Pro appearances to his name. Patterson was a leader in practically every kick return stat, leading the NFL with 35 kick returns and 1,017 yards. He had the second-highest return average with 29.1, and he was one of just seven players to return a kickoff for a touchdown this year.
The versatility Patterson brings would be highly sought after in free agency by several teams if the Bears allow him to walk.
Other Chicago Bears offensive free agents for 2021
- TE Demetrius Harris, 30
- WR Dwayne Harris, 33
- T Germain Ifedi, 27
- T Jason Spriggs, 27
- WR DeAndre Carter, 27
- G Rashaad Coward, 26
- TE J.P. Holtz, 28
- G Alex Bars, 25
- RB Ryan Nall, 25
The Bears have a few questions on defense and special teams that will need answering in 2021
The largest name on defense set to hit free agency in 2021 is Roy Robertson-Harris.
Robertson-Harris has averaged 2.5 sacks each year for the Bears. Though in 2020, he has not recorded any sacks and landed on injured reserve after Week 8. The injury will not likely be enough for him to fall into an affordable range for the Bears. As of now, Spotrac has Robertson-Harris’ price tag at $8.2 million per year.
One potential solution could be to waive Akiem Hicks and allow him to hit free agency. Hicks has one more year left on his contract, which could free up some much-needed cap space.
The other names to watch for the upcoming Bears free agency period are kickers Eddy Piñeiro and Cairo Santos. Piñeiro will likely be the odd man out. He went 23 of 28 in 2019 and hasn’t played a snap in 2020.
Other Chicago Bears defensive and special teams free agents for 2021
- CB Artie Bars, 25
- S Deon Bush, 28
- DE Mario Edwards, 27
- S Tashaun Gipson, 31
- S DeAndre Houston-Carson, 28
- DT Jordan Jenkins, 32
- CB Michael Joseph, 26
- DT Daniel McCullers, 29
- CB Sherrick McManis, 33
- OLB Barkevious Mingo, 30
- P Pat O’Donnell, 30
- LS Patrick Scales, 33
- DE Brent Urban, 30
- DE James Vaughters, 28
- LB Josh Woods, 25