Chicago Bears: 5 players facing crucial contract years in 2021

Chicago Bears (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /
2 of 6
Chicago Bears, James Daniels
Chicago Bears (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

Chicago Bears guard James Daniels is facing a crucial 2021 season

When the Bears drafted James Daniels in the second round back in 2018, many believed he was one of the round’s biggest steals. Coming out of college, he was one of the top ranked interior linemen all around.

In three seasons, Daniels has been both good and bad. He still hasn’t come into his own as the high draft pick he was, but he’s a fair starter. If he’s healthy, he’s the Bears’ best option to start inside with Cody Whitehair.

But, as he comes off a season which saw him play in just five games, the 2021 season is a big one for Daniels. He’s playing for his future, as he’s in the last year of his rookie deal. The Bears have tried to overhaul their offensive line, and if Daniels doesn’t play excellent in 2021, he could be part of a continuing renovation up front.

The one other aspect of this, too, is the fact that the Bears likely won’t have a ton of cap space next year. If Daniels does play well enough to warrant a chunk of change on a long-term contract, does he become the team’s free agent priority next year? It’s tough to say.