The Bears do not have the assets to reinvent themselves in this one offseason.
However, they are not far off the 2018 Bears, and a return to the playoffs and just one double-doink away from a playoff win would satisfy most of Bears Nation
To make that happen, they must upgrade at tight end, left tackle, quarterback, safety, inside linebacker, right guard, pass rush and running back.
A daunting list to be sure, but some improvement will come from within and other areas require just rehab rather than reconstruction.
Fixing significant needs by counting on rookies is rarely a winning formula. The Bears should use every one of their draft picks to take the best available football player at one of those areas of need every time they step to the podium — and hope that one or two might contribute immediately.
On the other hand, selective targeting in free agency can yield instant results.
In 2018, the Bears signed Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, Aaron Lynch, Benny Cunningham, Bradley Sowell and Chase Daniel, and re-signed Prince Amukamara, Sam Acho and Patrick O’Donnell, while matching an offer sheet from the Packers for Kyle Fuller.
Along with the Khalil Mack trade, it was the catalyst in the Bears jump from 5-11 to 12-5.
It could happen again this year, and here are the players I’d target to make it happen.
QUARTERBACK: I'm on record saying Marcus Mariota is the guy. Other than being a bit bigger, he and Mitch Trubisky are the same prospects and both need improvement/development in the exact same areas.
The new coach is an alleged QB whisperer, so turn “Flip” loose and let them compete.
TIGHT END: Tyler Eifert – You'd love to get Hunter Henry or Austin Hooper, but I think both could be tagged, and if not, will cost a fortune.
Because of his injury history — which is awful — Eifert should be reasonable on a shorter prove-it deal, and sharing time with Demetrius Harris at the "Y," he could make an impact. It’s a gamble, but this is going to take a little rolling of the dice to fix everything.
LEFT TACKLE: Jason Peters and re-sign Cornelius Lucas – Yep, he's 38 years old. But three years ago, the Rams made a similar gamble on a 36-year-old Andrew Whitworth — and it paid off in spades.
Peters is a Hall of Fame tackle who won’t cost a fortune and is still a 100 percent upgrade over Charles Leno, and releasing Leno would leave $7.4 million in dead money but still free up $2.9 million in cap space.
SAFETY: Tony Jefferson or Karl Joseph – Neither of these two is great in coverage, but you don't want to go across the middle on them, and they will thump you on the run. They are 28 and 27, respectively and either is a much better match with Eddie Jackson than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
INSIDE LINEBACKER: re-sign Danny Trevathan and Kevin Pierre Louis – Nick Kwiatkoski would be my first choice if he weren't going to cost as much or more as both these two combined. While he's much better in coverage than we thought, Kwiatkoski isn't as good as Trevathan, and he can't replace in leadership and locker room presence what Trevathan gives you.
RIGHT GUARD: 2nd Round Pick – Brandon Scherff or Joe Thuney would be outstanding but they are too expensive, you don't know yet what you already have in Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars and this is a position where a rookie can make an impact if you get the right guy.
PASS RUSH: Bud Dupree, Mario Addison – Dupree will probably be too expensive, but Addison is a 33-year-old former Bear and professional pass rusher who has 9 ½, 11, 9 and 9 ½ sacks the past four seasons, respectively. He'd come at a reasonable price and be the perfect complement to Mack, Floyd, Hicks, Goldman, Nichols and Robertson-Harris.
The rush could be fierce again.
RUNNING BACK: Jordan Howard – I know they won't do it, but they should. Look at where the Eagles ground game was running the same offense last season with Howard and Miles Sanders before Howard got hurt. With David Montgomery and Jason Peters, the Bears could do the same things.