The Chicago Bears underwent a major facelift on both sides of the ball this offseason but some holes remain. It can be tough to fill most needs in on summer, let alone all the needs Chicago had.
Still, with a couple of months to go until training camps open up around the NFL, there is time for more tweaks to what should already be a vastly-improved group over last year’s 3-13 squad, and they could land one who is familiar with head coach Matt Eberflus.
Defensive ‘Stalwart’ Floated as Potential Bears Trade Target
“The Bears spent a ton of money to get new blood at inside linebacker…But they can only do so much if they don’t have tackles in front of them who hold up at the point of attack and keep them clean,” wrote Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report on May 31. “Making a trade for Grover Stewart would reunite the veteran with Eberflus while giving the Bears a reliable interior defender.”
Stewart, 29, spent four seasons under Eberflus in Indianapolis. He is heading into the final year of a three-year, $30.7 million contract and, as Ballentine notes, will be taking the field for a coaching staff with zero ties to him.
It is not as though he is a non-factor, however.
He is a stalwart against the run, racking up nine tackles for a loss and 70 combined tackles with the Colts last season,” Ballentine writes, adding Stewart “would offer some help in the pass rush department, too. Last season, he had four sacks and 14 pressures, per Sports Info Solutions.”
What’s more, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Steward has appeared in every game in each of the last four seasons including starting all 50 games over the past three seasons. Neither of the Bears’ projected starters – Justin Jones and Andrew Billings – have shown that kind of durability, though each offers something different than what Stewart brings.
While he could slot in alongside either Billing or Jones on the interior, their presence is just one reason why the Bears might hold off on pursuing the soon-to-be free agent.
Bears Rookies Have Impressed
The other big reason the Bears might be hesitant to fork over draft capital for a player who will turn 30 years old early in the season – which is already against the ethos of general manager Ryan Poles – is the work they did this year in the 2023 NFL Draft.
A class that included three interior linemen – Gervon Dexter Sr., Zacch Pickens, and Travis Bell – has seen that trio generate plenty of buzz. First, it was with their personalities and anecdotes during the pre and post-draft processes. Now, the youngsters have gotten a chance to show what they can do on the football field, albeit in sweats without pads.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 28, 2023
Of course, a Bears defense that ranked 27th in yards per carry and 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed needs all the help it can get.
Bears Need More Help at EDGE than DT
This roster was bereft of talent last season. But, despite their actions in the draft and free agency, Jones was one of the unit’s few bright spots. It will be interesting to see if he has another level to his game with better pieces around him at almost every level.
The Bears have not, however, added anyone of significance at EDGE rusher, a bit of a concern with the defense generating just 20 sacks last season.
They do have incumbents Trevis Gipson and Domonique Robinson, both of whom have a lot to prove. And they added Rasheem Greene and DeMarcus Walker in free agency but both of them are more tweeners than pure pass rushers, though Walker did record 7.0 sacks last season for the Tennessee Titans and Green notched 6.5 sacks for the Houston Texans in 2021.