Done Deal As Bears Signed The Best Defender…

Bears Urged to Sign $15.4 Million ‘Missing Piece’ for Defense

The Chicago Bears made noticeable improvements on defense during the 2023 season, especially after acquiring Montez Sweat in a trade with Washington. To reach the next level, though, at least one Bears insider believes they will need to emphasize finding their “missing piece” — a 3-technique defensive tackle — for 2024.

Bears insider Courtney Cronin and several ESPN colleagues recently broke down the 2024 offseason picture for the Bears and identified the 3-tech position as their “under-the-radar priority” for next season. Cronin also listed a few high-end options for them to consider signing in free agency once the new league year begins on March 13.

“The missing piece that can take the Bears’ defense from good to elite is a disruptive 3-technique defensive tackle,” Cronin wrote. “Chicago is pleased with Gervon Dexter’s development as a rookie, and while that could be the role he ultimately earns more time in, the Bears’ to-do list in free agency should include testing the market on Kansas City’s Chris Jones, Miami’s Christian Wilkins or Baltimore’s Justin Madubuike.”

Jones, a five-time All-Pro, is still a high-level player but will be turning 30 before next season. And Baltimore is unlikely to let the 26-year-old Madubuike walk after notching 13 sacks this past season that earned him both Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognition. As a result, Wilkins might be the most appealing option of the three if the Bears head into free agency looking to acquire an upgrade for the middle of their defensive line.

Christian Wilkins May Fall Outside Bears’ Price Range

Christian Wilkins could be one of the hottest free agents on the market when March rolls around. The 2019 first-round pick finished his fifth season with a career-high nine sacks along with 10 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback hits. He also played in every game for a third consecutive season, making him an ideal combination of disruptive and available. The Dolphins would likely prefer to keep Wilkins on their payroll, but that might not be an option for them considering they must clear roughly $51.9 million in cap space just to get into the black before the start of the new league year in March. They also already tried to negotiate an extension with Wilkins before the regular season, a process that saw Wilkins stage a hold-in during training camp and end without a new deal in place.


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