After reportedly agreeing to a blockbuster trade last Friday, general manager Ryan Poles will have more opportunities to bolster the Bears roster this week.
The NFL's free agency negotiation window opened at 11 a.m. (CT) Monday, with teams permitted to begin speaking with agents of players who are slated to become unrestricted free agents. No contracts can be officially signed, however, until the start of the new league year at 3 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.
Unlike last year, the Bears will enter free agency with ample salary cap space.
"The opportunity to have a little bit more ammunition than we had last year allows us to bring in the right type of players that kind of fit what we're looking for and fit our culture," Poles said two weeks ago at the NFL Combine, "so again we can keep moving the needle and winning football games."
Although the Bears GM has significantly more resources at his disposal, he intends to employ the same disciplined and measured approach as last year.
"We have players that are going to be in certain buckets for values and this year we have the ability to approach and go after a few of those guys," Poles said.
"[But] I think we're going to stay selective. We're going to have parameters that kind of match our values and our research. We have an unbelievable analytics team, our cap group, we have Matt [Feinstein] and Cliff [Stein], [they] do a great amount of research to kind of keep us in that range in making smart decisions because the key is we don't waste this opportunity and do something that's not sound that doesn't allow us to have this flexibility in years to come. So that's the balance: take advantage of now but still not trying to hurt you down the road."
Ahead of the official start of free agency, take a look NFL.com's top 50 players who are set to hit the open market (list sorted from Nos. 1-50 as of Monday, March 13).
Even before free agency, the spotlight has already been on the Bears. Last Friday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, ESPN's Adam Schefter and many others reported that the Bears had agreed to deal the No. 1 selection in the draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for star receiver DJ Moore and four draft picks.
The selections the Bears reportedly would receive are in the first (No. 9) and second rounds (No. 61) this year, a 2024 first-rounder and a 2025 second-rounder.
The trade is not official and won't be confirmed until the start of the new league year at 3 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.
In terms of free agency, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal formulated a list of the top 101 players expected to hit the open market. Here's a rundown by position:
The position was recently thinned out when the Ravens placed a franchise tag on Lamar Jackson, and Daniel Jones and Geno Smith re-signed with the Giants and Seahawks, respectively. The first quarterback on Rosenthal's list is Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 22. The only other passer in the top 50 is Jacoby Brissett (37). Four others are included: Teddy Bridgewater (56), Andy Dalton (79), Gardner Minshew (91) and Baker Mayfield (101).
The first running back doesn't appear until Miles Sanders at No. 49. The next best options are Damien Harris (65) and Jamaal Williams (74). Others include Devin Singletary (81) and Alexander Mattison (86). The only Bears free agent-to-be on the list at any position is David Montgomery at No. 97.
The top four receivers on Rosenthal's list are Odell Beckham Jr. (9), Jakobi Meyers (12), JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) and D.J. Chark (28). Beckham missed the entire 2022 season after tearing his ACL in Super Bowl LVI. He recently conducted a free-agent workout and reportedly is in discussions with several teams. While Beckham is 30 years old, Meyers, Schuster and Chark are all 26.
The draft appears to be much deeper at tight end than free agency: the only two players at the position among the top 75 free agents-to-be are Dalton Schultz (16) and Mike Gesicki (23). The next best options are Hayden Hurst (76), Robert Tonyan (84) and Irv Smith (95).
Two of the top six players on the list are tackles: Orlando Brown (2) and Mike McGlinchey (6). The next two tackles are Jawaan Taylor (26) and Kaleb McGary (27). The highest ranked interior lineman is center Jason Kelce (21), followed by guards Ben Powers (33), Nate Davis (36) and Dalton Risner (40).
The No. 1 player on Rosenthal's list is defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Other defensive linemen in the top 10 are tackle Dre'Mont Jones (7) and edge rusher Zach Allen (8). The next best edge rushers are Marcus Davenport (17) and Yannick Ngakoue (25).
Linebackers are well-represented with four in the top 25: Bobby Wagner (11), Lavonte David (13), David Long (18) and Tremaine Edmunds (20). The next best options include Drue Tranquill (41) and Cole Holcomb (42).
The secondary is the most stacked position in free agency, according to Rosenthal, with three defensive backs in the top five, four among the top 10 and six in the top 15. They are safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (3), cornerback James Bradberry (4), safety Jessie Bates (5), cornerback Jamel Dean (10), safety Jordan Poyer (14) and cornerback Cameron Sutton (15).
Take a look at the Bears players who have re-signed with the team to continue their careers in Chicago, the players from the 2022 roster who are now free agents and the players who have signed with other teams.