Three players that could still help the Bears
Isaiah Downing - USA Today Sports

Three players that could still help the Bears

by - Senior Writer -

When the 2023 offseason got underway, Ryan Poles had three goals in mind. Goal No. 1: improve the offense and give Justin Fields more weapons. Goal No. 2: improve the defense, especially the pass rush, as the Bears ranked dead last in the NFL last season in that category. Goal No. 3 was to bring in as much depth as possible.

For the most part, the Bears have done a great job meeting or coming close to achieving those goals, but more work can be done. Outside of Yannick Ngakoue, the Bears still don't have a game-changing pass rusher, which has to be concerning. With injuries starting to pile up on the offensive line, the depth of this team is coming into question as the Bears have to get things figured out by week one.

One thing we know about Poles is that we should expect the unexpected, and I expect Poles to get everything figured out sooner rather than later. How he does that is another question, but should he pursue the free agent market, three names could instantly help the Bears.

Dalton Risner (OL)

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, surprise in free agency this season is veteran offensive lineman Dalton Risner is still unsigned. With Teven Jenkins missing a minimum of four games and the Bears offensive line far from decided heading into week one, Risner is an intriguing option for the Bears and one they should consider.

Across the past four seasons with the Broncos, Risner has not only been durable, playing in 62 games, but has been one of the anchors of their line. Over his four seasons as a starter, the 2019 second-round pick has allowed a total of 10 sacks over his 2,304 career pass-blocking snaps. That is worth noting for a team that hasn't been able to protect Justin Fields, and he would improve that across the board. The bigger question is why he is still unsigned if he has been so good.

That is a question we may never know the answer to, but it is one the Bears don't care to find out. Risner fits what this team lacks, and should he fall into their hands, who is anyone to judge the move?

Carlos Dunlap (EDGE)

Adding Ngakoue was a huge pickup for the Bears and will improve their pass rush, but beyond him is where the questions lurk. Yes, Chicago has defensive talent, but they only have one proven pass rusher in Ngakoue, who will shoulder a ton of attention. The better he does, the more double and triple teams he will see, forcing others to step up.

Chicago is hoping guys on their current roster can be the ones stepping up, but adding a guy like Dunlap would undoubtedly help in more ways than one. Granted, Dunlap is nearing the end of his career and is likely not a starter anymore, but with guys like Ngakoue, DeMarcus Walker, and several others, he doesn't have to be.

At 34, the best days are well behind Dunlap, although he still managed to get four sacks, 20 pressures, and 12 QB hits last season. For his career, Dunlap has logged 267 QB hits, recorded 100 sacks, and forced 22 fumbles over his 13 years in the league. Coming off a season where he played for just three million dollars, what do the Bears have to lose?

Chris Wormley (DL)

Another player who is still a free agent and has put together a great career is former Pittsburgh Steeler DT Chris Wormley. The 29-year-old is one of those low-risk, high-reward pickups, and the Bears would benefit from giving him a whirl. The six-year veteran has spent three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, seeing action across 80 games during that time.

Wormley struggled in 2022, playing with an ACL injury, but was very good in 2021 when healthy. His best season came in 2021 when he played in 15 games (14 starts) for Pittsburgh. He finished with career highs in tackles (51), tackles-for-loss (6), quarterback hits (10) and sacks (7.0). The 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive tackle has played 80 career games (31 starts) and has amassed 142 tackles (80 solo, 14 for loss), two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 11 sacks.

Coming off a torn ACL late in the season and undergoing surgery in December, Wormley may not be ready for week one. However, he will be ready at some point this season, and his addition will improve the Bears defense against stopping the run and getting after the QB.

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