The Chicago Bears are coming off yet another disappointing season that led to them finishing with a league-worst 3-14 record and earning the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
A myriad Bears rumors have since pointed in the direction of them trading out of that selection for more draft assets. However, general manager Ryan Poles and Co. also have the most cash to spend under the salary cap with north of $100 million.
Assumming the Bears are sold on talented young quarterback Justin Fields, the focus here has to be on getting him more weapons on offense. The young quarterback broke out to an extent last season but doesn’t have the skill-position talent around him.
In looking at five Chicago Bears free agent targets for the 2023 season, we thought it made sense to start there.
Related: Top 400 NFL free agents of 2023
Dalton Schultz, tight end
Young tight end Cole Kmet led the Bears in receptions with 50 a season ago. He also put up seven touchdown catches. One might think that Chicago wouldn’t look in this direction. But with a lack of top-end wide receiver talent in free agency, the need to acquire more help for Fields takes precedence.
Schultz, 26, would be an idea fit if the Bears opted to go with more two tight end sets for Fields. He’s averaging 66 receptions for 670 yards while catching 70% of his targets over the past three seasons. We love the idea of Fields doing his magic with Kmet and Schultz between the hashes. The quarterback’s dual-threat ability would make this a tremendous trio.
Marcus Davenport, EDGE
With the excess of cap room that they have, the Chicago Bears should zero in on youngsters who have something to prove. That is to say, players who can figure into their long-term plans. At 26 years old, Davenport fits this mold big time.
The former first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints never really panned out in the Bayou. He recorded just eight quarterback hits and a half sack last season. With that said, Davenport is one season removed from putting up a career-high nine sacks. He’s young. He fits a need. After all, Chicago leading sack getter from a season ago was rookie safety Jaquan Brisker after the team traded away Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. That’s just not going to get it done.
Devin Bush, linebacker
Staying true to the theme of adding high-upside youngsters in free agency, Chicago targets a former Steelers first-round pick who has had a history of success. The 24-year-old Bush finished third in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting back in 2019 and was a play caller on defense out of the gate for Mike Tomlin’s squad.
Sure the Michigan product struggled this past season (73.7% completion and 107.1 QB rating in coverage). But this is a perfect time for Chicago to buy low on a longer-term contract. Bush has proven he can be a three-down backer at the NFL level. He’s been a team leader throughout four NFL seasons. Meanwhile, two Bears starting linebackers in that of Nicholas Morrow and Joe Thomas are slated to hit free agency. Bush would be a great fit next to stud youngster Jack Sanborn over the long haul.
Mike McGlinchey, offensive tackle
Veteran Riley Reiff held down the fort at right tackle in front of Fields a season ago. He’s a free agent and is long past his prime. The Chicago Bears’ acquisition of former Las Vegas Raiders first-round bust via waivers to open last season does absolutely nothing to change the dynamics here.
If the Bears want Fields to succeed from the pocket, they’ll need to find more upgrades on the offensive line. That’s where McGlinchey comes into play. He started all 69 games in which he’s appeared in five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. McGlinchey, 28, is coming off a career-best performance and has proven to be a solid right tackle. Regardless of the cost, he’d be a great fit opposite Braxton Jones in Chicago long term.
Related: Most-underrated 2023 NFL free agents
Allen Lazard, wide receiver
If the Bears are to add one big-ticket item during NFL free agency, Lazard would make the most sense. Not only would this addition take away an important player from a division rival, it would give Fields that consistent weapon the young quarterback has been missing throughout his first two NFL seasons.
This past season saw the 27-year-old Lazard tally 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns while hauling in 60% of his targets. He also dropped just six passes on 100 targets. It’s vital for the Chicago Bears to spend money on upgrades for Justin Fields. Lazard is the best option in that he’s an option long-term in the Windy City.