Chicago Bears should face their realities and move on

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

One of the most gut-wrenching parts of being a sports fan is the inevitable ebbs and flows you’ll experience as a fan when your team goes through the phases of competing, tearing it down, and rebuilding. Unfortunately, for those of us who call ourselves Chicago Bears fans, it’s time to acknowledge the inevitable rebuild awaiting this organization.

This team is old – in fact, they were the oldest in the league going into the season. The current roster was put together to win a championship in the rookie contract window of Mitchell Trubisky – not Justin Fields.

This is why in 2018, when Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, and Danny Trevathan were all in their prime, the Bears fanbase was able to experience an elite defense that reinstilled the hope that a championship could return to Chicago in the near future.

However it is no longer 2018, it is 2021, and next season in 2022 the Chicago Bears will be four calendar years removed from that historical 2018 season. 2021 in many ways was destined to be the last hoorah for this version of the current roster. NFL rosters rarely have cornerstones that can be a team’s backbone for more than four years without any turnover.

It’s officially time for the Bears and all of us fans to acknowledge that the 2018 team is not coming back. The faces may stay the same, but that team is in the past.

Now, with the team up against the wall, an opportunity has been presented to Bears general manager Ryan Pace: Emerge from the shadow of 2018 and acknowledge that this team needs to rebuild around Justin Fields and become much younger on offense and defense.

The Chicago Bears must be sellers at the 2021 trade deadline.

Current Bears players expected to hit free agency next spring include Allen Robinson, Akiem Hicks, Tashaun Gipson, Damiere Byrd, Germain Ifedi, and Andy Dalton. This doesn’t even include others such as Robert Quinn whose trade value is peaking at this very moment and veterans like Danny Trevathan whose experience and leadership would be an asset to any playoff contender.

The Bears have even more incentive to be active at the trade deadline because the AFC currently looks entirely up for grabs and teams will be looking for those pieces that could drastically change their team’s stature in the AFC playoff race. Therefore, I predict that a bidding war is upon us.

Could a team like the Chiefs be willing to part ways with day two or three draft capital to acquire Akiem Hicks and Tashaun Gipson and fortify their defense to make a late wildcard push? Would the Raiders be interested in acquiring someone like Allen Robinson to further help Derek Carr? Could a team like Baltimore look to add another wide receiver like Damiere Byrd for a 2023 6th/7th round pick?

Perhaps there’s a market for Germain Ifedi, Nick Foles, and Andy Dalton too (maybe in New Orleans?). The Bears have a lot of pieces championship teams are looking for, but are not under the right leadership to maximize their current talent and potential.

They should do right by their veterans, especially the defensive leaders who have carried the load for years now, by trading them to contenders in the AFC and giving them a chance to win now.

The Bears have young talent: Jaylon Johnson, Bilal Nichols, Roquan Smith to pair with some great veterans like Eddie Jackson and Khalil Mack. However, it’s time for them to start building up their draft capital to acquire the future cornerstones of this franchise on both offense and defense. As it stands currently, they have two top-100 picks in the 2022 draft.

Justin Fields’ favorite target from college, Chris Olave, will likely be a first-round prospect next spring, and if moves now could set up the Chicago Bears to acquire him, they would be foolish not to take advantage. Many have said that Ryan Pace’s employment status will determine whether or not he’s allowed to make personnel decisions at the deadline, but it really should not matter.

Whether Pace sticks around to be able to use the capital he can collect at the deadline is a topic for another day, but with the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Chicago Bears cannot let an opportunity to get some return on their investment from 2017 and 2018 slip away for nothing.

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