With 21 of their 22 starters under contract, the NFC-North champion Bears are in an excellent position to build on their resurgent 2018 season.
Only two Bears players are on an NFL.com list compiled by Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling of the league’s top 101 free agents-to-be: Nickel back Bryce Callahan is ranked No. 34, while safety Adrian Amos is No. 41.
Callahan was having a breakout year before sustaining a season-ending foot injury Dec. 9 in a win over the Rams. He recorded 45 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, six tackles-for-loss and six pass breakups while appearing in the first 13 games with 10 starts.
“Football analytics have noted that slot-corner efficiency is aberrantly unpredictable from season to season,” Rosenthal and Wesseling wrote. “That said, Callahan was one of the position's premier playmakers prior to his season-ending foot injury in December.”
Amos, the only Bears starter due to become a free agent, led the team’s defensive backs and finished third overall with 72 tackles while also registering two interceptions, nine pass breakups, two tackles-for-loss and one fumble recovery.
“A PFF darling ranked second among all safeties in 2017 and seventh in 2018, Amos completes his assignments with aplomb,” Rosenthal and Wesseling wrote. “His old coordinator Vic Fangio could try to bring him to Denver.”
The 21 starters the Bears have under contract includes a core of eight players who were selected to last season’s Pro Bowl: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, running back/return specialist Tarik Cohen, center Cody Whitehair, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.
The top 10 free agents-to-be on the NFL.com list are 1) Cowboys edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence; 2) Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney; 3) Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett; 4) Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell; 5) Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford; 6) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas; 7) Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers; 8) Seahawks edge rusher Frank Clark; 9) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles; and 10) Giants safety Landon Collins.
Several of the aforementioned players are candidates for franchise tags, a designation that may be applied by NFL teams by the March 5 deadline.
See where the Bears rank among NFL teams with the most difficult 2019 schedules based on their opponents’ 2018 records.