The Bears got a potential franchise cornerstone in rookie quarterback Justin Fields this year, but domestic media believe they’re still in the works.
ESPN ran an exercise (ESPN + subscribers only) in which they ranked each NFL team based on their outlook over the next three years. Using each team’s overall roster, quarterback status, training, draft capacity, and front office, a collection of members of the media predicted how the NFL would perform in the immediate future.
The Bears have not been ranked favorably, placing 27th in the league with an aggregate score of 69.1 which falls under ESPN’s “very bad” territory. Their rating scale cited poor front office decisions and below average coaching as the main factors behind Chicago’s low ranking.
Field Yates has indicated that Fields’ strong play could push the Bears up in their rankings and likely see Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s jobs secure for the foreseeable future. However, it also undermined the limited flexibility of the team’s cap, the lack of top-tier capital and an aging roster.
Jeremy Fowler had this to say about the Bears’ long-term defense status:
A once excellent but now aging Chicago defense can retool on the fly while retaining its star power. Akiem Hicks will have business value, Robert Quinn has an exit in his contract in 2022, and Khalil Mack has a modest salary (for his standards) of $ 12 million with a bonus of $ 5.5 million next year. In fact, Chicago could make contracts from Mack and security Eddie Jackson after next season if he wishes. The Bears can take out some players while leaning on promising young stars Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson.
Fields’ presence gives the Bears a more positive long-term outlook than before the 2021 offseason, and the aforementioned opportunity to free up ceiling space could help them surround their new quarterback with younger talent. . These factors could certainly help Chicago consolidate itself as true playoff contenders in the near future.
However, one can certainly see why others may be worried about the Bears’ future. Their list is in the last 10 in terms of average age, and 7 of their 11 most expensive players by annual salary are over 30. Their offensive line still seems far from established, the defense doesn’t have too many budding stars, and their offensive weapons are an Allen Robinson gap away from reaching disturbing territory.
Chicago feels they have a lot of work to do before they can prove they’re a lasting contender for the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Having a quarterback with Fields’ potential certainly gives you more confidence in your future.