Bears sound ready to add DEs after draft


The Bears know they still have work to do to improve their defensive line. Heading into the draft, it was expected that the team would add several defensive tackles and defensive ends, considering it was arguably the team’s worst unit in 2022, and the Bears only added three DL players free agency: Andrew Billings, who plays in the interior, and Rasheem Green and DeMarcus Walker who each primarily play on the end, but can move inside if needed.

The Bears were aggressive in adding more tackles over the weekend and used the Nos. 53, 64 and 218 picks to draft Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens and Travis Bell. Dexter and Pickens are both prospects with enticing athletic profiles. Bell was a seventh-round pick who earned incredible praise from Ryan Poles, who called Bell one of his “favorite human beings.” But there were no defensive ends to be found among the 10 draft picks the Bears made over the weekend. That left many scratching their heads.

“You want to fix everything immediately but it’s got to work the right way. The right players got to be there that fit our scheme. They want to be here. So, we can’t fix everything at a high level in one swoop.”

The Bears had many holes on their roster heading into the draft, so they were never going to fix every problem over the course of the weekend. Luckily they didn’t need to. And judging by Poles’ comments, he’s not done. When asked if he felt comfortable rolling with his current group of defensive ends in training camp, here’s what he had to say:

“Camp’s a long ways away. We’ll stay on our toes and if something presents itself we’ll be able to do that. We’ll be able to do it financially as well.”

Free agency naturally slowed down as teams started preparing for the draft, but it will pick back up again. There are still several veterans available who could provide a pass rush boost, like Frank Clark or Yannick Ngakoue. It’s unlikely the Bears would view any veteran free agent addition as a long-term solution, but they can find guys who can help and bridge the gap until the Bears have another opportunity to add a young foundational piece.

Then there’s Chase Young. The Commanders declined Young’s fifth-year option, and that move typically indicates a team is ready to cut ties with a player. Of course there’s a chance Young plays incredibly well in 2023 and the Commanders offer him a new deal. More likely, Young will be headed to greener pastures. The Bears would have to acquire Young via trade, which Poles has proven he’s not afraid to do if he’s convicted on a player. Poles brought in DJ Moore as a part of the deal that sent the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers. Last season he sent a second-round pick to the Steelers to bring in Chase Claypool. Then they’d have to pay Young, since he’s now playing on the last year of his deal. Poles indicated the Bears are in a position to pay that cost, financially, but we don’t know if they’ll determine he’s worth it. In his short time with the team Poles has shown time and time again that he’s disciplined when offering players contracts. The value of the deal must match their evaluation of the player.

No matter which way they go, it sounds like the Bears plan on continuing to add defensive ends throughout the summer.

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