Bears Insider

Six NFL free agents Bears could target before training camp begins

The Bears have injected talent into their roster, but there are several remaining free agents who could help them this fall

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The Bears will open training camp in less than a month, with veterans reporting to Halas Hall on July 25.

Head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles injected talent into the roster this offseason, but there are more needs to address for a team that went 3-14 a year ago.

Pass rusher is the top need, but the Bears also lack quality depth on the offensive line and could add another veteran tight end behind Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan.

“I think they're always looking for all positions,” Eberflus said of potentially adding players before training camp. “You know I think that [edge rusher] is one position we are looking at and potentially we could get that done.”

Veteran edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark recently signed, but there are still a few notable veteran edge rushers, offensive linemen, and tight ends looking for jobs.

Let’s start with the obvious name (you won’t find DeAndre Hopkins or Dalvin Cook on this list. They aren’t on the Bears’ radar).

Yannick Ngakoue, DE

Bears fans have been trying to construct a bat signal on top of Willis Tower for months to get Ngakoue to Chicago.

The 28-year-old edge rusher recently said he is looking for a multi-year deal with a team that is either a contender or on track to be a contender soon.

On paper, Ngakoue makes a lot of sense for the Bears. Yes, he struggles as a run defender, but he has notched at least 42 pressures and seven sacks in every season of his career.

Ngakoue’s desire for a multi-year deal might be unappealing to Poles, who is trying to remain financially flexible heading into next offseason.

However, if Ngakoue remains unsigned into training camp, that price could drop, and the Bears would be an ideal landing spot.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE

Yes, the ending in Cleveland was ugly. But the Bears need proven veteran pass rushers, and Clowney is the best pure defensive end on the market. His pressure numbers dropped last season (29 pressures, three sacks), but he is a good run defender and should be motivated by the lack of interest on the open market.

The 30-year-old Clowney still has juice left, and he would get all the opportunities to rush the passer he wants in Chicago.

Chase Roullier, C

The Bears enter training camp knowing who their “best five” are upfront. That’s a big jump from this time last year.

But there’s little depth behind the starting five of Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, Cody Whitehair, Nate Davis, and Darnell Wright.

Lucas Patrick is currently the preferred backup at center and both guard spots, with Alex Leatherwood and Ja’Tyre Carter serving as options at left and right guard, respectively.

Roullier, 29, was one of the most dependable centers in the NFL from 2018-2020, but back-to-back seasons with leg injuries forced the Washington Commanders to release him with a post-June 1 designation.

When healthy, Roullier was a good zone-run blocker who also held up well in pass protection. Adding another veteran center would give the Bears an insurance policy for the aging Whitehair and the oft-injured Jenkins.

In his last full season (2020), Roullier allowed just 11 pressures and one sack in 669 pass-blocking snaps while registering a 72.4 run-blocking grade, per PFF.

Jason Peters/Taylor Lewan, OT

There are pretty much zero appealing offensive tackle options left on the open market. That’s bad news for a Bears team that currently has Larry Borom and Kellen Diesch competing for the swing tackle role.

Lewan, 31, has been an excellent tackle when on the field, but injuries have piled up over the last few years. The veteran tackle said he would have to consider retirement after the Titans released him.

If Lewan is still interested in playing, he’d give the Bears another veteran presence in the offensive line room and would be valuable depth behind Jones and Wright. Lewan has said he only sees himself as a left tackle, but at this point of his career, he’ll have to be OK with a swing role.

Other than Lewan, old friend Jason Peters might be the best option on the market. Peters showed he could still play last season for the Dallas Cowboys. Peters saw action at left guard, left tackle, and right tackle for the Cowboys. In 132 pass-blocking snaps, he allowed just 11 pressures and one sack.

At 41, Peters won’t be able to give the Bears 17 games at full health, but he could be a nice veteran depth add at tackle. If he still wants to play.

Cameron Brate, TE

The Bears added a capable second tight end in Tonyan this offseason but still need depth behind him and Kmet.

Brate, who will be 32 when camp begins, isn’t a world-beater, but he’s a solid pass-catching option who excels in the red zone.

Right now, the Bears have Chase Allen, Jake Tonges, and Stephen Carlson behind Kmet and Tonyan. Another cheap veteran option who can slide in should an injury occur would be a smart addition.

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