With every Chicago Bears loss comes the tracking of their 2023 NFL Draft first-round pick. It makes sense to do that, of course. High first-round picks are the hope of every franchise coming off a losing season. But before we can project which players the Bears should take with their upcoming draft picks, it’s important to remember that GM Ryan Poles will use free agency to fill many of Chicago’s glaring needs.
The Bears are projected to have the most money under the salary cap entering the 2023 free agency signing period. In fact, it won’t even be close. If Chicago has their heart set on a player, he’s as good as theirs.
One area the Bears will target is an upgrade at wide receiver. The trade for Chase Claypool was a big step in the right direction, and it cost them their second-round pick. It was a hefty price to pay for Claypool, who should begin next season as the presumptive WR1. Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 12, but he should be back to full strength by the time training camp rolls around. And that’s where the sure-things end on the Bears’ wide receiver depth chart.
Rookie Velus Jones Jr. is a developmental project with a lot of work to do before he factors into the passing game. Veterans Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis aren’t locks to make the roster in 2023. Former New England Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry has the most upside of the depth players, but even he isn’t a sure thing in 2023.
Enter free agency, where Poles can pluck at least one starting-caliber wideout to go along with Claypool and Mooney. The good news for Poles is that he won’t have to overpay for any of next year’s crop of free agents. It’s an average bunch of names. But beggars can’t be choosers, and the Bears have to add more talent to their current group.
Here are three options that’d make the most sense.