Chicago Bears: 5 best free agent defensive linemen in 2023

Chicago Bears, Daron Payne (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears, Daron Payne (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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3. Daron Payne, IDL, Washington Commanders
3. Daron Payne, IDL, Washington Commanders /

It’s no secret that most Bears fans would have Daron Payne at the top of their FA defensive line wish lists. And, it’s easy to see why.

At only 25, coming off a career high 11.5 sack season, Payne sounds like an ideal candidate to be the Bears’ game wrecker in the middle of their defense for a long time.

His violent hands, lateral quicks and first step all pop on his tape. The light switch really seemed to come on for him to channel those skills into production over the course of the 2022 season.

He showed to be a lot more consistent than he has ever been before but was that enough? He was right above average in true pass rush grade and win rate (according to PFF).

This means he had a good season but maybe not as good as 11.5 sacks look at face value. Luckily, Payne makes a lot of his impact in the run game.

His versatility in being stout when holding the LOS and disruptive when shooting gaps to make plays in the backfield is impressive. That’s why I am confident that his floor as a run defender would be an instant upgrade for the Bears.

He just may not be the star pass rusher that his price tag will say he is. Given his age and him coming off his best season from a sack perspective, he is going to cost a pretty penny.

Everyone always overpays in free agency but how much you are willing to overpay will most likely be what the Bears will have to sort out pursuing Payne.