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Bears Offseason Tracker 2020: Key Dates, Free Agency Scorecard, NFL Draft Rumors, Latest Updates And More

The Chicago Bears will be forced to hit the ground running during the 2020 offseason. After following up a 12-win season with a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2019 that exposed their shortcomings, the Bears are in the midst of a pivotal period of time as they look to make up ground on the Packers and Vikings, both of whom surpassed the Bears in 2019 with playoff appearances that also included wins — something that has eluded the Bears since the 2010 season. It won’t be easy.

Money is tight. The Bears are firmly stuck in the bottom portion of the league in terms of available cap space. Numerous important contributors are hitting free agency, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where two inside linebackers, Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski, and one starting safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, have expiring contracts. The coaching staff has already been revamped, most notably with Bill Lazor arriving as their new offensive coordinator and John DeFilippo as their new quarterback’s coach.

Speaking of the quarterback position, they still desperately need to find an upgrade at quarterback after Mitchell Trubisky failed to make the leap in Year 3 and as a result, cost the Bears a return to the playoffs. While Trubisky will undoubtedly return to the team for another season, a bevy of options in free agency and the trade market exists, options that would likely beat Trubisky in a fair quarterback competition. The Bears are likely to be buyers.

Meanwhile, the 2020 NFL Draft is approaching with the Bears holding zero first-round picks. To infuse their roster with young and cheap talent, they’ll need to find some late gems.

It feels like a turning point for the organization, for better or for worse. If general manager Ryan Pace fails to navigate the salary cap and provide coach Matt Nagy with upgrades in the areas that matter (quarterback), the current regime could be on its way out. If Pace does supply Nagy with the necessary reinforcements, the 2019 season will be forgiven, fans will actually give them credit for winning 20 games over their first two seasons together (the most wins for the franchise in consecutive seasons since the mid-2000s), and the future will be bright again, as it was at this time a year ago.

With all that in mind, we decided to create a one-stop destination for all the information you need about the Bears’ offseason, including a list of the key upcoming dates, an updated free agent scorecard, a glance at their draft situation, and the latest reports and rumors.

Key upcoming dates

  • March 12The franchise/transition tag deadline. At first glance, the Bears don’t appear to have any tag candidates. The Bears haven’t used a tag since giving Kyle Fuller the transition tag in 2018 before matching the multi-year offer that the Packers gave him. The Bears last used the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery in 2016 before letting him walk in free agency a year later.
  • March 16: The legal tampering period begins. The Bears and the 31 other teams are free to talk to unrestricted free agents.
  • March 18: The new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET. Teams can now officially sign free agents.
  • March 29-April 1: The annual league meeting in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Mid-April: The release of the 2020 regular-season schedule. But we already know which teams the Bears will face in 2020. In addition to their normal divisional slate of games, they’ll also face the SaintsTexansGiantsColtsBuccaneers (all at home), FalconsJaguarsPanthersRams, and Titans (all on the road).
  • April 21: GM Ryan Pace is scheduled to speak to the media before the draft.
  • April 23-April 25: The NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
  • May 8-May 10: Rookie minicamp.
  • May 27-29, June 2-4, and June 8-11: OTAs.
  • June 16-18: Mandatory minicamp.
  • Late-July: Training camp. Final dates to be determined.

Free Agent Scorecard 

All contract info via Spotrac

Unrestricted free agents

After cutting two key contributors (more on that below), the Bears are working with roughly $26.3 million in available cap space, which as of February 26, ranks 23rd among the league’s 32 teams. This means, of course, they won’t be able to retain everyone.

The Bears need to prioritize keeping one of their inside linebackers to pair with Roquan Smith in the teeth of their defense. Trevathan is far more accomplished than Kwiatkoski, but Kwiatkoski (26) is younger than Trevathan (29), and he filled in for him admirably during the 2019 season. Losing both would be a brutal blow, considering the Bears’ defense has relied on strong inside linebacker play over the past couple of seasons.

The safety position is an area the Bears need to address with Clinton-Dix already hitting free agency one year after signing him to a one-year deal to replace Adrian Amos. While the Bears already have great young safety in Eddie Jackson, who is under contract for the long haul, they need to give him a competent partner in crime.

Special teams ace and backup defensive back Sherrick McManis could also be made a priority, especially considering how thin the Bears also are at cornerback.

Restricted free agents

It’s Robertson-Harris who the Bears should prioritize. In a limited role, Robertson-Harris has impressed, notching 7.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He’s a great depth piece on an already stacked defensive front.

Releases

Both Amukamara and Gabriel became victims of the team’s tight salary cap situation. In a move to create $13.5 million in additional cap space, the Bears released both players before free agency began. The cap space is nice, but the Bears suddenly have a hole at cornerback opposite Kyle Fuller. In the past two offseasons, they’ve lost two good cornerbacks in slot guy Bryce Callahan and now Amukamara. The Bears should be able to replace Gabriel internally, though. Anthony Miller appears to be poised to fill the void as he eyes a Year 3 breakout after two encouraging seasons to begin his NFL career.

Free agent signings from other teams

In-house free agent signings

2020 draft picks:

  • Round 1: None
  • Round 2: Oakland, Chicago
  • Round 3: None
  • Round 4: None
  • Round 5: Oakland, Chicago
  • Round 6: Chicago, Philadelphia
  • Round 7: Chicago

Rumors, reports, and updates

Bears plan to pursue Hooper

Friday, February 28: As is common at the combine with so many key players gathered in the same place, rumors, reports, and buzz surrounding free agency starts to bubble to the surface. One of the hottest free agents set to hit the open market is tight end Austin Hooper — he is coming off of a breakout 2019 season. The Bears are expected to pursue Hooper — as finding an impact tight end is key for Matt Nagy’s offensive system (his words, not ours) — and Cody Benjamin has more on Chicago’s reported interest.

Pace doubles down on Trubisky

Tuesday, February 25: From the combine, Pace (once again), backed Trubisky as the Bears’ quarterback while leaving the door open for a quarterback competition, which would be dependent on the Bears adding a quarterback at some point in the offseason.

Our Cody Benjamin has the details:

Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters Tuesday at the scouting combine that Trubisky will open the 2020 season as Chicago’s starter, echoing his December declaration that the team is optimistic about the former first-rounder’s growth: “We believe in Mitch,” Pace said, per ProFootballTalk.

[…]

While reaffirming the team’s commitment to Trubisky moving forward, the GM also indicated Chicago will wait until May to decide on exercising the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s contract — a deal currently set to expire after the 2020 season. Asked about the possibility of a training camp competition under center, he left the door open for just that, reportedly saying that “competition brings out the best in everybody.”

Of course, just because Pace is saying something in February doesn’t mean it’ll be true come September. That said, it certainly seems like Pace wants to give Trubisky one more chance … something every Bears fan undoubtedly fears.

Pace talks Allen Robinson extension

Tuesday, February 25: Also at the combine, Pace addressed Robinson’s contract situation.

“We keep those things inside, but it’s obviously something we’ve talked about,” Pace said, per Yahoo Sports. “He’s a good player and does a lot for our team on and off the field and he’s a guy we’d like to have a Bear for a long time.”

2020 is the final year of Robinson’s deal, which he signed in 2018. So far, he’s been everything the Bears could’ve hoped for. Even though he’s been catching passes from subpar quarterbacks, he’s averaged 950.5 yards and 5.5 touchdowns per season with Chicago. An extension, which could deliver immediate salary cap relief to the team and long-term security to Robinson, should be made a priority.

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Jack is Andorra CF official website editor. Having written for a number of magazines and websites, there's no aspect of soccer news and great predictor.

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