Bears

2023 Bears roster breakdown: Who’s under contract and who’s a free agent?

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus (left) talks with general manager Ryan Poles before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Chicago.

A year ago, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles took over a roster with his predecessor Ryan Pace’s fingerprints all over it.

Pretty quickly, Poles set about dismantling it.

By January 2023, the Bears look nothing like they did at the end of the 2021 season. Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus tore this thing down to the studs. The Bears willingly ate tons of dead cap space in 2022 in order to clear the books for 2023 and beyond.

As a result, they have more available salary cap space in 2023 than any other team by a mile. They have few big-money contracts still on the books. Numerous Bears are set to become free agents in March. Poles will have to decide who he wants to keep and who he wants to let walk away.

Here’s a full breakdown of where the Bears’ roster stands heading into 2023. Contract status is according to our friends at OverTheCap.com.

Under contract for 2023

* – indicates a player is on a futures contract. The Bears signed several players to futures contracts last week.

Quarterback (2)

Justin Fields

Trevor Siemian

Running back (2)

Trestan Ebner

Khalil Herbert

Wide receiver (7)

Chase Claypool

*Daurice Fountain

Velus Jones Jr.

Darnell Mooney

*Joe Reed

Equanimeous St. Brown

*Nsimba Webster

Tight end (3)

*Chase Allen

Cole Kmet

*Jake Tonges

Offensive tackle (4)

Larry Borom

*Kellen Diesch

Braxton Jones

Alex Leatherwood

Interior offensive line (5)

Ja’Tyre Carter

Teven Jenkins

Doug Kramer

Lucas Patrick

Cody Whitehair

Defensive end (5)

Trevis Gipson

*Gerri Green

Terrell Lewis

Al-Quadin Muhammad

Dominique Robinson

Defensive tackle (3)

Jalyn Holmes

*Donovan Jeter

Justin Jones

Linebacker (4)

*Kuony Deng

DeMarquis Gates

Jack Sanborn

Sterling Weatherford

Cornerback (7)

Josh Blackwell

Kyler Gordon

Harrison Hand

Jaylon Johnson

Jaylon Jones

Michael Ojemudia

Kindle Vildor

Safety (5)

Jaquan Brisker

*Adrian Colbert

Elijah Hicks

Eddie Jackson

A.J. Thomas

Special teams (2)

P Trenton Gill

K Cairo Santos

Restricted free agents (Bears have the option to match offers from other teams):

RB Darrynton Evans

C Sam Mustipher

DT Andrew Brown

CB Breon Borders

Exclusive rights free agents (if the Bears offer a contract at league minimum, these players cannot negotiate with other teams):

OG Dieter Eiselen

Unrestricted free agents:

QB Tim Boyle

QB Nathan Peterman

RB David Montgomery

FB Khari Blasingame

WR N’Keal Harry

WR Dante Pettis

WR Byron Pringle

TE Ryan Griffin

TE Trevon Wesco

OT Riley Reiff

OG Dakota Dozier

OG Michael Schofield

DT Angelo Blackson

DT Mike Pennel

DT Armon Watts

LB Matt Adams

LB Elijah Lee

LB Nicholas Morrow

LB Joe Thomas

S Dane Cruikshank

S DeAndre Houston-Carson

LS Patrick Scales

Some general thoughts and observations:

  • The list of impending free agents is long. Re-signing running back David Montgomery almost certainly is a priority. Poles has been clear that he loves Montgomery’s style. The running back market in free agency is deep, which might make signing Montgomery easier for the Bears. He is likely the team’s only potential target for the franchise tag. The franchise tag for a running back is going to cost an estimated $10 million in 2023.
  • Other priorities among unrestricted free agents might be fullback Khari Blasingame, linebacker Nicholas Morrow, safety and special teams ace DeAndre Houston-Carson and long snapper Patrick Scales. The Bears could bring back one receiver among N’Keal Harry, Dante Pettis and Byron Pringle, but they probably won’t bring all of them back.
  • Among restricted free agents, the Bears likely will seek to bring back running back Darrynton Evans and center Sam Mustipher. They also should bring back guard Dieter Eiselen, who is an exclusive rights free agent, for depth on the interior.
  • The Bears will continue to pay dead money on the contracts of Robert Quinn, Danny Trevathan, Mario Edwards Jr., Tarik Cohen, Jeremiah Attaochu and Zachary Thomas in 2023.
  • The Bears have nine selections in the 2023 draft, including the first overall pick. In addition to the first pick, they have a second-round pick, a third-round pick, two fourth-round picks, three fifth-round picks and a seventh-round pick.
Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.