Last week the Bears season ended with a thud and a lot has changed since then. Cutty is back for another whopping 7 years, Jennings and Slauson are back for 4 more years, and the Packers are out of the playoffs. Hell, even Mel Tucker's job isn't safe.
Any Bears fan can point out that the defense was horrific last year. If it weren't for the defense, the Bears would be in the playoffs and I'm not focusing on the play at the end of the game. There were failures all season, especially in big moments. How can the Bears D be fixed? Everyone wants to ax Tucker and I've been going back and forth on the issue. Ultimately, I think he stays because he has handed a pretty crappy hand in terms of personnel and injuries over the course of the season.
The main question heading into the offseason is whether or not that Bears will transition into a 3-4 from a 4-3. If they make this change, this wouldn't solve all the problems in the world. I do not know what the Bears will do, but I have a hunch that they will stay as a 4-3. A scheme should fit the players, not players being forced into a scheme. With the personnel that the Bears have under contract, namely Paea, Bostic, and Greene (to name a few), the Bears are better off in a 4-3. I do think that McClellin will be the strong-side linebacker next year, which was all but confirmed by Trestman and Emery. He would be a good fit at linebacker, similar to how Bruce Irvin is in Seattle.
That being said, the Bears linebacking corps for the future is set (Greene-Bostic-McClellin), but the secondary and the line need to be rebuilt. I envision Wooten and Melton returning to the Bears and the Bears would select a defensive lineman in either the first or second round next year. As much as I hate to say it, I do believe that Charles Tillman's time with the Bears is over unless he is willing to sign a 1-2 year, low-money deal. I think its within the range of possibility that the Bears that the Bears resign Bowman and Hayden to compete for the other starting job. Hayden was once a starter at corner in Indianapolis and despite his torn hamstring, he has shown great progress in his rehab. This would allow the Bears to target a corner in the middle rounds of the draft and use a high draft pick on a safety, which is a need.
I think Conte can rebound from this past season, but I would not bank on that. I would absolutely bring in a talented safety to compete with him and maybe start over him. With Wright a free agent, there is no certainty that he will return. I think he will, but I believe that the Bears would target a safety in free agency and then draft another one.
With the new deals for Cutler, Jennings, Slauson, Fiammetta, and Gould, the Bears may not have much maneuverability in free agency. It is likely that the Bears will get some flexibility from renegotiating Peppers contract or cutting him. He is a world class player, but as Emery said, he had an 8-8 year. He is not worth the $20 million dollar cap hit. Not for 7.5 sacks. Expect the Bears to be players in free agency, but not after the top guys like Greg Hardy. They will revamp this defense completely via free agency and the draft. Lucky for them, the only move (outside of resigning Garza), is find Garza's eventual replacement. That's a fourth or fifth round draft pick, and the Bears can use all resources on the defense.
If Emery can transform the defense, like he did to the offense, there will be a parade in Chicago in about 13 months.
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