Leading up to Bears training camp in late July, Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2021 season.
What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?
Justin Fields might not be the best player on the Bears in 2021 (or maybe he will be), but he certainly is among the most important.
[ Hub Arkush’s 2021 Bears positional previews: Inside linebackers ]
No. 19 Danny Trevathan
Position: Inside linebacker
NFL experience: 10th season
Looking back: Danny Trevathan had a slow start to the 2020 season, but it’s easy to forget that he was coming off a severe elbow injury that sidelined him for the final seven games of 2019. Conditioning might have been part of the problem after the injury and an unusual offseason, because his play improved as the season wore on. Despite the slow start, Trevathan played in every game and was relied upon heavily when Roquan Smith went out with an injury late in the season.
Trevathan had 113 total tackles in 2020, second most in his career. He was among the veterans who saw an increasing number of rest days during the week in order to keep him fresh for Sundays. That likely will be the case again in 2021.
Looking forward: With two years remaining on his contract (plus three voidable years), the Bears are going to milk every last ounce of productivity they can out of their 31-year-old linebacker. The team signed free agent Christian Jones, who can play inside or outside linebacker, giving Trevathan and Smith a backup with much more experience than Josh Woods, who remains on the team.
With Smith playing at an elite level, the Bears don’t necessarily need Trevathan to play at the level he did when he was in his 20s with the Denver Broncos. They do need him to stay healthy, and they need him to play like he did during the second half of the 2020 season. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai must do whatever he needs to in order to keep Trevathan in favorable matchups. The team also needs his voice in the locker room. Trevathan is a veteran who other players look up to.