Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles didn’t make many flashy signings on the free agent market this offseason, but he still brought in several players who will be asked to play key roles.
Here’s a look at five questions about the Bears’ veteran newcomers this season.
Beyond third-year player Darnell Mooney, the Bears wide receiver room is made up of several players looking for standout seasons. It was a theme of the Poles’ offseason roster additions: guys who are eager to show what they can do after crowded rosters or injuries slowed their production early in their careers.
“I have a real chip on my shoulder,” said Harry, a former first-round pick whom the Bears acquired from the New England Patriots for a 2024 seventh-round pick. “I’m looking to come in and do everything I can to help this team win. I feel like I’m a great fit on offense, so I’m ready to go.”
Harry’s best three season in New England came in 2020 when he had 33 receptions for 309 yards.
After four years in Green Bay, St. Brown has a leg up on the competition because it is familiar with coordinator Luke Getsy’s offense. St. Brown had 21 receptions for 328 yards in his rookie year, but he was injured in 2019 and hasn’t topped 117 receiving yards since.
Pringle is the most successful, with 42 receptions for 568 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 amidst plenty of talent with the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Poles feel Pringle is capable of more in his fourth season on the pitch.
Pringle said he’s not thinking about the competition, which includes a host of other receivers looking for attention.
“I don’t care who’s in front of me. I don’t care who’s by my side. I don’t care who’s behind me,” Pringle said. “I only worry about myself because if I worry about them, that will make me lose focus.”
Patrick was supposed to set the tone on the offensive line.
After the Poles signed Patrick to a two-year, $8 million deal in the spring, Patrick yelled into the phone. Pole said that the reaction was an example of Patrick’s fire and called it a “prick”, in the best possible way considering the Poles are trying to build attitude on the line.
But Patrick broke his right hand just two days after training camp practices, the Bears stayed on to rotate Sam Mustipher and rookie Doug Kramer at center. The hope is that Patrick is ready to return in Week 1, but it’s far from ideal considering the only other position in play is left guard Cody Whitehair.
“How do you respond to that?” coach Matt Eberflus said after Patrick’s injury. “There are a lot of things you can’t change in life, right? You get into situations and there they are. They show up, and how you respond to that situation is all that matters. You can’t take a magic pill. You can’t just make up another player that’s going to show up sometimes. You just have what you have and you have to get over it and do the best you can.”
The Bears are at least looking better at Kramer, a sixth-round pick, and have a backup in Mustipher, who was competing at right guard before Patrick’s injury. Mustipher has started 24 games at center the past two seasons and said he didn’t mind the competition created by Patrick’s offseason arrival.
“I’ve loved competition my whole life, every stage I’ve been where I’ve had to compete for a job,” Mustipher said. “I’ve never been the strongest, fastest, most athletically gifted guy, so I just hang myself for being willing to do the other things that other people aren’t willing to do.
“Competition can bring out the best in some people, it can bring out the worst in some people. I feel that throughout my life I have done the former.”
Count Morrow among the many newcomers with something to prove.
He put together the best season of his career in 2020 with the Las Vegas Raiders — 78 tackles, eight for losses, six quarterback hits, three sacks and nine passes defensed — but then sat out all of 2021 with a high ankle sprain. that he needed tightrope surgery.
Now, after signing him to a one-year, $3 million deal, the Bears are counting on Morrow to be their strength at middle linebacker alongside weakside linebacker Roquan Smith, who sits out of practice while awaiting a new contract. . Morrow has been accused of calling plays and said he has been “pretty fluid.”
“That’s pretty standard stuff,” he said. “The most important thing is to make sure that we are all on the same page and that we over-communicate. Sometimes you have those young people there and there are certain calls where you have to communicate consistently. Just putting that together is probably bigger than the calls.”
tomorrow comes with a reputation as a fast and smart worker who prefers to lead with action.
“The most effective way to lead is to lead by example, right?” Morrow said. “When the guys see it on tape, they have a vision. … Pregame speeches don’t win games. Thats the reality. But effort is contagious and when guys see that effort, they can follow it.”
The Bears shed a lot of talent from their defensive front in the offseason, trading Khalil Macklet Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols remain in free agency and watch Eddie Goldman retire.
So the additions of Muhammad and Jones were key to filling in some important gaps.
Muhammad played four of his five seasons in Indianapolis with Eberflus, setting career highs with 48 tackles, six sacks and 13 quarterback hits in 2021. Eberflus said Muhammad has made a career of putting effort into every play: “He doesn’t take plays, the coach said, and Jones said the defensive end is a natural fit.
“He is fast. He is fast. He has good hands. He has good hips,” Jones said. “He’s been in the scheme before, so he knows the way. But it looks like he’s supposed to be there, if that makes sense. It seems to fit very well. And he understands the scheme itself, so he knows when he can make his shots and where he can’t. He communicates that with other D-ends and obviously with me in the room as well, which makes me a better player, smarter too.”
Meanwhile, Jones, who is in his fifth NFL season after four with the Los Angeles Chargers, said he feels like he was “born to play” the three-point technique on Eberflus’ defense. He had three sacks and five quarterback hits in 2021.
“I am an explosive athlete,” he said. “I take the ball off. I hit the boys right back. He interrupted the plays. I can hurry. All the guys know that, and this gives me the opportunity to be the beast that I know I am.”
Just before training camp opened with multiple questions about who would guard quarterback Justin Fields this season, the Poles made two veteran additions on the offensive line in Reiff and Schofield.
Reiff, 33, has started 139 games in 10 seasons with the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals, making reps at left and right tackle as the Bears try to rank their top five.
Reiff’s only season with the Bengals ended with an ankle injury in December and he’s eager to return for another year.
“Probably the end of May was a moment where I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to play,’” Reiff said. “I finished the year at IR, and I don’t want to leave like this.”
Schofield, an Orland Park native who has started 81 games over seven seasons, offers competition at right guard for Mustipher and rookie Ja’Tyre Carter.
“Any time we get to have competition here, that’s a good thing, especially guys that have a lot of experience like them,” Whitehair said. “He’s just going to continue to improve our room and help us grow as an offensive line.”