The latest Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason comes with more clarity than previous versions. It’s becoming easier to see the vision GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus have for this team. They intend to invest their resources in certain areas and want to build the roster primarily through the draft. That doesn’t mean they won’t spend some money in free agency, but don’t expect them to go on a Richie Rich-like spending spree. They’ll target some big names to help in critical areas and then move on.
One other thing to expect is an intention by Poles to start securing the team’s future via extension. Several young players will be entering a contract season next year. The GM has more than enough cash to work out extensions with several of them. Continuity can be so valuable to sustaining team success in the NFL. If this regime likes what they see down the stretch, don’t be shocked when deals are struck leading into March.
Chicago Bears 2023 mock offseason turns to the future.
- Jaylon Johnson – 4-year extension for $76 million
- Darnell Mooney – 4-year extension for $64 million
- Chase Claypool – 4-year extension for $64 million
- Nicholas Morrow – 3-year deal for $15 million
- Armon Watts – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- Equanimeous St. Brown – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- N’Keal Harry – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- Trevon Wesco – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- Matthew Adams – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- Dane Cruikshank – 1-year deal for $1.08 million
- DeAndre Houston-Carson – 1-year deal for $1.165 million
- Patrick Scales – 1-year deal for $1.165 million
- Josh Blackwell – ERFA deal for $750,000
Don’t be shocked when Poles looks to secure the Bears’ future with some extensions this coming off-season. Johnson is their best cornerback and an obvious building block on defense. The next step is ensuring Justin Fields has two capable targets in the passing game that he can grow with. Mooney and Claypool have both put together a similar production to the likes of Robbie Anderson, Courtland Sutton, and Hunter Renfrow. So $16 million per year is plenty fair for both of them. That may sound like a lot, but remember, top receivers are paid $27-30 million these days. So it’s a bargain.
Jack Conklin – 3-year deal for $45 million ($7 million cap hit in 2023)
He’s been one of the better right tackles in the NFL for several years now and is still only 28. His ability to run block isn’t up for debate since he’s regularly helped guide one of the five best rushing attacks in the NFL for Cleveland. Protection pass? It isn’t a problem. He can more than hold his own against the majority of edge rushers in the league without much issue.
Dre’Mont Jones – 4-year deal for $88 million ($12 million cap hit in 2023)
The 2022 season has hammered home how painfully inadequate the Bears’ defensive line has been. That is especially true along the interior. Jones is the best pass-rushing defensive tackle on the market. His size, quickness, and motor are great fits for what Eberflus wants in his system.
Bobby Okereke – 3-year deal for $31.5 million ($8 million cap hit in 2023)
Things are not going well in Indianapolis. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of their most prominent free agents look to escape if a strong enough offer is made. Okereke has strong ties to Eberflus from his time running the Colts’ defense between 2019 and 2021. During their last season together, the linebacker had 132 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions. He would be a nice addition to a rebuilding front seven.
Byron Murphy – 4-year deal for $54 million ($7 million cap hit in 2023)
The trick in free agency is finding good players without paying top-of-the-market prices. If Murphy had been available last March, he’d have collected such a deal after snagging four interceptions for Arizona. Now he’s having a less productive season even though he is still a quality cornerback. So this Bears 2023 mock offseason seeks to pounce while his market is deflated, adding need help at a premium position.
1st Round – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
With all due respect to Braxton Jones, the Bears would be making a huge mistake passing on the opportunity to add Skoronski. He is the best left tackle prospect in the country, showing excellent quickness and technique in pass protection. His power in the run game is good, and he doesn’t lack a nasty streak, either. He plays just down the road at Northwestern and grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, making the decision even easier for Chicago. He can anchor Justin Fields’ blindside for years to come.
2nd Round – Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
In 15 games for Albany, Verse was a terror with 14.5 sacks. People wondered how he’d transition to a bigger program at Florida State. His 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss in eight games have answered that question. He has the quick first step needed to rush the pass, has long arms, good power, and can bend the edge without losing momentum. If he were more experienced, he’d likely go in the 1st Round.
Trade: Bears send 3rd round pick to Seahawks for 3rd in 2023, 4th in 2023, and 6th in 2023
3rd Round (via SEA) – John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Poles already proved he’s not afraid to gamble on somewhat older draft picks. Obviously, Velus Jones doesn’t look great thus far, but Schmitz is a different story. He is far more proven during his time at Minnesota. He’s intelligent, strong, tough, and an absolute technician at center. His pass protection has evolved into some of the best you’ll see from anybody in this class. There are questions about his athletic ceiling, but he’s a good player.
4th Round – Rashee Rice, WR, EMS
Size, speed, and versatility. Those are three traits the new Bears regime covets when targeting wide receivers. Rice checks those boxes. He’s 6’3 and boasts enough speed to threaten down the field. Where he ears brownie points is his aggressiveness as a blocker in the run game. His productivity speaks for itself, with 2,824 yards and 23 touchdowns in 39 games. His route-running will need polishing.
4th Round (via SEA) – Arquon Bush, BC, Cincinnati
Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant got all the love for that Bearcats secondary in 2021. That made it easy to overlook Bush, who had three interceptions that season and two more in 2022. One consistent theme with Bush is that he often gets his hands on the soccer. That is what Eberflus and Alan Williams want. He’s a tenacious presence in the run game and has good enough size.
4th Round (via PHI) – Micah Baskerville, LB, LSU
The Tampa-2 defense demands speed and pursuit from the linebackers. They must be able to tackle while having coverage capability. Baskerville will be hounded for his average size, but he covers lots of ground for LSU’s defense. He has 139 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and two interceptions in his last 21 games. He should make an excellent addition who can compete for a starting spot and contribute on special teams.
5th Round – Brant Kuithe, TE, Utah
Before an unfortunate injury, Kuithe gave opponents fits with 206 yards and three touchdowns in four games. When thinking about Luke Getsy’s offense, it has a long history of excelling with undersized but versatile tight ends like Shannon Sharpe and Owen Daniels. Kuithe is cut from the same mold. He’s 6’2 but strong, faster than you think, and runs sharp routes for his size. He can line up anywhere.
5th Round (via BAL) – Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
When you share a backfield with the best running back in college football, it’s hard to get noticed. That is the sad reality for Johnson. Bijan Robinson is a star, but his teammate is good too. The big 6’2 back has averaged 5.6 yards per carry for his college career, runs with good power, high intelligence, and is a very real threat in the passing game. His 56 catches for 420 yards prove that.
6th Round (via SEA) – Javon Williams, FB, Southern Illinois
Fullbacks never get the attention during a draft, but this Bears 2023 mock offseason will show some love. Williams is a strong lead blocker with the size to match any linebacker in the NFL. That makes it easy to miss his reliability as a receiver out of the backfield, boasting 61 receptions in his college tenure.
7th Round – Warren Ericson, OG, Georgia
The competition at Georgia is fierce these days. Ericson was a starter on their 2021 national championship team and still lost his job in 2022. It isn’t clear what happened. Either way, this versatile interior blocker has solid size, quickness, and a desire to finish every snap. His problems are technical. He still suffers from lunging issues and doesn’t use his arms or hands efficiently. Those can be cleaned up.
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