The top free agent pool is shrinking
The Chicago Bears are flush with cash. But they might have difficulty finding supply for their heavy demand as another top free agent might be extended this offseason. The Bears need to build their offensive and defensive lines for next season. However, many teams are hesitant to let their top linemen go into free agency.
Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins was a player many fanbases, including the Bears, hoped would hit free agency. But the Packers wiggled around enough cap room to extend the two-time Pro Bowl athlete. Now the Washinton Commanders are giving signals that they want to keep a top free agent on the defensive line.
The Commanders want to keep their defensive line
The Commanders boast one of the best defensive line units in the NFL. But having elite players at premium positions is pricey and can take away from having the capital to, say, build the offense that’s keeping them from a playoff run.
Daron Payne is a defensive tackle that has been linked to the Bears in free agency this offseason. A Commanders’ insider recently came out and said that the team was unlikely to extend Payne because of upcoming contracts for other players on the defensive line. A new report casts that earlier assumption into doubt.
According to Myles Simmons with NBC Sports, Commanders’ head coach Ron Rivera said that the team “have to find a way” to extend Payne, as the defensive lineman “earned” the extension. (Payne had a career-high of 11.5 sacks and 20 quarterback hits during the 2022 season.)
“The 13th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Payne is set to become an unrestricted free agent after he didn’t receive a contract extension before the 2022 season.
“It cost us,” Rivera said, via Jhabvala, of the decision to not extend Payne. “But it cost us in a good way, because the young man played, he did things the right way. He didn’t sit out, he didn’t withhold, he could have done that sit-in during training camp, but he didn’t. And because he didn’t, now we’re in that position where we have to find a way to say, ‘thank you, OK, you’ve earned it.’”
Can the Bears find a top free agent on the D-Line?
It sounds like the Commanders are willing to pay the heavy price to keep Payne in Washington. That would be bad news for the Bears, who need elite help like Payne on their defensive line. The free agent market looks slim on defensive linemen for 2023. However, Rivera is not the general manager, and no contract has been signed. Let’s hope Payne thinks he’s worth more than the Commanders can give after a career-best season.
For More Great Chicago Sports Content
Follow us on Twitter at @chicitysports23 for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Chicago sports news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE