There are advantages and disadvantages of being a top-market team in sports. While you can always count on your large fan base to show up and show out, expectations can be set to unfair levels.
That was the case for the Chicago Bears in 2023-24. While they more than doubled their win total from the season prior, the Bears were heavily criticized for key losses that kept them out of the playoffs - included being swept (again) by the archrival Green Bay Packers.
Even so, this team saw advancements that the prior year lacked. The offense had more games of looking cohesive than before. The defense made its way into being a top-10 unit in the league. But being in a big market comes with having more focus on the historical collapses than the steps of progress taken.
The Bears do find themselves in a favorable position going into the offseason with a couple problems teams would love to have. At the forefront of it all, they think they are on the verge of having a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields, but also hold the rights to the first overall pick in the upcoming draft.
They also have a plethora of free agents they need to make decisions on – whether to take with them into the next season or let them walk. The Bears will be focused on bringing back a couple of key assets, including first time Pro-Bowler and second team All-Pro cornerback Jaylon Johnson. But there are a couple of guys who are now free agents that it’s time to move on from and let take their talents elsewhere.
1. Lucas Patrick
Offensive lineman Lucas Patrick was one of the first additions to the then newly hired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy made in Chicago. Getsy and Patrick were together in Green Bay - Patrick playing for and Getsy coaching the Packers offense.
Getsy was hired to right the ship of the Bears offense and bring it into the 21st century. He brought Patrick with him to help install an offense to let Justin Fields take full control of his abilities. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.
Going into 2023-24, the Bears offensive line was in the best spot to succeed in a long time. But it ended up still being well in the bottom half of the league in efficiency. Patrick himself started 15 and played 16 of the 17 games. Pro Football Focus gave him a 50.5 rating for the season.
Getsy was fired immediately after the season ended after 2 failed years as the offensive coordinator. Patrick should more than likely look to trial in his footsteps as the Bears need to move on from him as well.