General manager Ryan Poles knows the one position holding the Chicago Bears back this season is at defensive end. One insider recently named a star pass rusher in the NFC North division the team could trade for. The Bears have remodeled the offense enough for quarterback Justin Fields to show he can be competent. The defense is another story.
The Bears have not added enough elite help on that side of the ball, and they’re currently projected to be at the bottom of the league in 2022. Poles said last weekend he knew he could not address every area of need in the draft. He has several options to pursue in free agency, although there are options in the trade market.
The Chicago Bears could trade for an All-Pro
Brad Biggs with the Chicago Tribune wrote last week that New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson would be a great option for the Bears this offseason. This week, Biggs named another defensive end for Poles to pick up the phone and ask for, and they currently reside with the Minnesota Vikings. Biggs wrote former Green Bay Packers All-Pro and current Vikings pass rusher Za’Darius Smith could be a potential trade option for the Bears:
“Smith is rumored to be seeking a new contract — or at minimum guaranteed money — a year after signing a three-year, $42 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings. The market for Smith was depressed last offseason because he was coming off a back injury that wiped out nearly all of his 2021 season in Green Bay. He had 10 sacks last season for the Vikings, but 8½ came in the first seven games. Smith is an intriguing option, but having to trade for him and adjust his contract might be a lot.”
The ten sacks for Smith last season are not an anomaly. Smith has had three seasons since 2019 with ten or more sacks. He had 13.5 for the Packers in 2019. The 30-year-old would help the defense tremendously if Poles were willing to give Smith his asking price. Smith appears to be on his way out of Minnesota. He asked the Vikings to release him this offseason and recently sold his house in Minnesota. The Vikings added another pass rusher, Marcus Davenport, in free agency.
Za’Darius Smith would not be a cheap defensive end
The Vikings have not released Smith, who is under contract through the 2024 season. They understandably would want compensation through a trade if he does not play next season. Smith’s cap hit is $15.4 million in 2023 and $21.6 in 2024. One would assume the Bears could spread the cap hit out when negotiating a new contract. Smith’s services don’t come cheap, but that is the cost the Bears will have to give somebody when they refuse to add to that position via the draft and need the addition to stay solvent on the field.
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