Tag Archives: DeMarcus Walker

Bears GM Sends Strong Message on Plans to Fix Glaring Roster Flaw

If nothing else, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles sees the same thing as the fans do when he looks at the roster – the absence of a proven pass rusher which is rather startling considering his franchise’s defense just tallied 20 sacks this past season, the fewest in the entire league.

They have gone through the bulk of free agency and the entire NFL Draft without adding a pure EDGE defender, instead adding veteran DeMarcus Walker – who is more of a hybrid lineman – and some undrafted free agents.

Appearing on ESPN 1000 on May 12, Poles addressed the current state of the roster and his plans to add a proven pass rusher to this group that made key additions at every other level.

Ryan Poles Hints at Plans to Fix Bears’ Roster Flaw

“I think of my group, and we’ve proven that we’re always investigating options – via trade, signing someone that’s still available post-free agency. So we don’t really stop looking for talent. And so right now, I would just say we’re active, looking around, and maybe something will happen here soon.”

Poles covered a slew of topics from expectations for the team (it’s always to win) to individual players such as wide receiver Chase Claypool whom Poles said he still believes can be a “high performer” in the NFL.

He also made a telling admission about Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter whom Poles passed on in trading out of the No. 9 overall pick allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to strike.

There is a lot of excitement about rookie defensive tackles Gervon Dexter Sr., Zacch Pickens, and Travis Bell, judging from Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus’ comments. Still, the lack of a bonafide pass rusher will remain the focal point of fans and detractors.

The Bears Free Agent EDGE Rushing Options

As Poles noted, there are two distinct paths the Bears can take and both have some fairly defined options given the team’s needs. Among free agents, their best options appear to be Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, former Bear Leonard Floyd, and former Indianapolis Colts/journeyman sack artist Yannick Ngakoue.

Of those, Ngakoue, 28, led the way with 9.5 sacks this past season. He comes from the Colts and, while he missed Eberflus by one season, the coach likely has all of the intel he needs.

Floyd, 30, has had at least 9.0 sacks in each of his three seasons since leaving the Bears.

Clark and Clowney combined for 5.0 sacks last season while Walker recorded 7.0 in a breakout season for the Tennessee Titans. The rest of the options – names such as Trey Flowers (0 sacks), Markus Golden (4.0 sacks), or Kyle Van Noy (5.0 sacks) – don’t address the issue.

Veteran Justin Houston logged 9.5 sacks last season for the Baltimore Ravens but is 34 years old and likely looking to compete for a championship.

Beyond that are the likes of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Robert Quinn.

Potential Bears Trade Targets

One of the first names that come to mind when anyone mentions the possibility of trading for a pass rusher is Chase Young of the Washington Commanders who will play host to the Bears in Week 5 next season. Washington declined the former No. 2 overall pick’s fifth-year option. Young has appeared in just 12 games (11 starts) over the last two seasons due to injury.

However, not only is Young one of the best young pass rushers when he is healthy but the Commanders are set to undergo a change in ownership which clouds just how active they will look to be until then.

Another option is Carl Lawson, 27, who had 7.0 sacks last season. He is in the final year of a three-year, $45 million contract with a $15 million cap hit in 2023.

Lawson is not expected to be cut so a trade would be the only way to use him to create space to accommodate other moves in the wake of adding Aaron Rodgers. If that is the case, the Bears might be wise to take a swing – as multiple teams likely would – even if there is a risk Lawson is a rental who bolts in free agency next season.

Bears’ Offseason Addition Reveals True Feelings About Playing in Chicago

And just like that, Chicago Bears EDGE rusher DeMarcus Walker might have just endeared himself to the local populace.

“I love it here in Chicago,” Walkers exclaimed in a tweet on May 3.

The seventh-year man out of Florida State whose Twitter profile reads “Bear TF Down” has a massive opportunity in front of him. His new team boasted what was arguably the league’s most anemic pass rush last season recording just 20 sacks on the campaign, ranking 32nd in the NFL. Only the Atlanta Falcons recorded a worse pressure rate.

Enter Walker, 28, who is coming off a career-high 7.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss with the Tennessee Titans. At 6-foot-4 and listed at 280 pounds, he figures to offer head coach Matt Eberflus the option to use him inside or outside. But after the class the Bears came away from the first wave of free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft with, EDGE is certainly where he is needed most.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles is certainly aware of the need but is sticking to a plan.

Ryan Poles Staying Patient on Bears Pass Rush

“You want the right talent,” Poles told reporters after the draft concluded. “And then, like anything, proper value that makes sense…You try to stay disciplined, do the right thing, and not panic and do something that’s going to hurt us down the road. I think that has paid off for us and it will continue to.”

Poles went on to say the need for “certain things to lineup” would determine if they added to the group noting that training camp is not for a couple of months still.

All of that sounds like an opportunity for Walker – or fellow free-agent acquisition Rasheem Green who has 10.0 sacks over the last two seasons in a part-time role, or either of incumbents Trevis Gipson or second-year, former college wideout Domonique Robinson – to step up.

Trevis Gipson Acknowledged Down Season

Gipson is entering a key time, heading into his fourth season and the final year of his contract.

He’s coming off an admitted down season in which he recorded just 3.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss despite being active for all 17 games including 10 starts.

“Personally I’m [going to] give myself probably a ‘D’ if not ‘F’,” Gipson said after the season finale. “The sack numbers went down but, I don’t know. If I’m basing it off production probably that grade. But, if I’m basing it off improvement, probably a ‘C’. I got better in areas but it’s a new scheme and it’s a lot of things I realize I need to work on.”

It was not that long ago that Poles was pronouncing his faith in Gipson, Robinson, et al. before the season went awry for the group.

“I really do trust in Gipson, he’s had a good start to the season,” Poles said after trading Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles. “And even young Dom Robinson has flashed…And I think he’s going to continue to trend upwards.”

Even if that was just lip service, there is still an opportunity for someone to step up.