Chicago Bears must proceed with caution on Kwiatkoski deal

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

According to reports, the Chicago Bears are very interested in bringing back Nick Kwiatkoski.

The Chicago Bears will make it a priority this offseason to bring back free agent Nick Kwiatkoski. However, they must proceed with caution as they enter contract negotiations with the former West Virginia Mountaineer, and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Throughout the season, Kwiatkoski played increasingly well, particularly after the team lost Roquan Smith late in the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Kwit filled in quite well, exceeding even the most optimistic fan’s expectations.

You see, it wasn’t long ago that Kwit drew the ire of many fans for his poor performance in the 2018 season opener against the Green Bay Packers in which his relative lack of speed for the position of middle linebacker was exposed on many quick passes by Aaron Rodgers who exploited the absence of Smith who was not ready to play after a lengthy holdout.

By the time the 2019 season ended, however, that game and performance were a distant memory. Instead, it was replaced with countless games where Kwit stepped up not only as a run-stuffer — which has always been one of his strengths — but in the passing game as well.

It has been quite the turnaround for Nick who now enters the offseason as a highly sought after free agent. The Bears have apparently prioritized the task of re-signing Kwiatkoski, who is also apparently drawing strong interest from the division-rival Green Bay Packer.

Speculation is that a contract for Kwit could likely be somewhere in the $7-8 million per year range. Last season, according to Spotrac, teammate Danny Trevathan earned $7.65 million — to put it in perspective. Whether the Bears are willing to go to that level with Kwit remains to be seen, especially when they could consider re-signing Trevathan to a less expensive deal.

The Bears may not have as many needs as in years past, but the ones they have are premium positions that will cost them a pretty penny in free agency. They have already indicated their desire to add strong competition at the quarterback position, will need to find a strong safety and may need to find another edge rusher should they rescind Leonard Floyd‘s fifth-year option.

In other words, they need to be smart with their money, and dropping $8 million per year on Kwiatkoski might not be palatable, even if they don’t re-sign Trevathan — especially with the way in which Kevin Pierre-Louis also came on down the stretch of 2019. Though not a determinative factor, they must also consider the impact on a potential compensatory pick losing Kwiatkoski could have.

While riskier for sure, they could also look to find another “Kwiatkoski” in this year’s draft to pair with Smith who will be back to 100 percent for the start of training camp.

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It would certainly be nice to keep and reward a homegrown player, but they need to thoroughly think through the decision before committing substantial dollars.