Bears Projected to Make ‘Elite’ Trade for $44 Million Defensive Star - Sport News

Bears Projected to Make ‘Elite’ Trade for $44 Million Defensive Star

The Chicago Bears have taken some big swings for their defense over the past six months, trading for pass rusher Montez Sweat and signing All-Pro cornerback Jaylon Johnson to a long-term contract extension. Could they potentially have one more up their sleeve between now and the 2024 NFL trade deadline in the fall?

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Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox recently examined several of the top potential 2024 trade targets whose contract situations could prompt a change of scenery over the next several months and locked in on one particular defensive star who could take the Bears defense to “elite” status: Washington Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.

“The Chicago Bears, who acquired and extended Sweat, would be a sensible suitor for Allen if Washington is willing to make him available,” Knox wrote on March 27. “They had a stout defensive front after adding Sweat last season, and bringing in Allen could give them a truly elite defensive line.”

Allen. 29, has racked up 22 sacks and 36 tackles for loss over the past three seasons as the centerpiece in the Commanders’ defensive line, making the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022. He is also under contract for the next two seasons in Washington; however, Knox notes that Allen is “largely underpaid” after Christian Wilkins‘ $110 million signing with the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason and has no guaranteed money left on his deal.

Allen carries cap hits of roughly $21.4 million and $23 million, respectively, over the next two seasons and could be looking for a fresh payday that rewards his high level of play. Are the Bears still in a position to make a high-priced splash on defense, though?

Jonathan Allen Fits Needs, But Can Bears Afford Him?
There is little question that Allen would substantially upgrade the middle of the Bears defense. He is an interior game-wrecker who makes an impact against both the pass and the run and can play the three-technique role, even though Washington has split those responsibilities between him and Daron Payne over the past several seasons.

An on-paper fit, however, does not justify the draft capital and salary-cap resources that the Bears would have to pay to acquire Allen.

The Bears have committed significant money to one star player in each of the three phases of their defense over the past year: Middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds ($72 million), Sweat ($96 million) and Johnson ($76 million). While defensive tackle is the one spot on their defense that could still use more investment, it is hard to imagine them committing more than $20 million annually to a veteran who turns 30 in January.

Don’t forget, the Bears had the cap space to make a contract offer to Wilkins — who is younger than Allen and coming off a career year — similar to the one he signed with the Raiders and declined to do so, prioritizing Johnson and the offense.

The Commanders would also likely want no less than a Day 2 draft pick for Allen, if they decided to put him on the trade block at all. The Bears do have two second-round picks in 2025, but why not use the picks to find a younger option in the draft?

Perhaps the biggest hurdle is the Commanders themselves, too. Newly hired general manager Adam Peters specifically said at the NFL league meetings this week that the Commanders are “not interested in trading” Allen. Stances can change, especially if Allen’s camp starts pushing for a raise, but the waters are too murky at this point.

Could Bears Land Star Defensive Tackle in NFL Draft?
Jonathan Allen is a nice thought. Surely, if you booted up EA’s Madden 24 and did what it took to add him to the Bears, their defensive front would yield dominant results. But this is real life, not Madden, where the Bears have a more affordable and practical way to add star power to the middle of their defensive line than making a big-name trade.

Ever heard of the 2024 NFL draft?

The Bears’ number of draft selections has shrunk over the past month. They dealt their fifth-round pick to Buffalo for guard/center Ryan Bates and traded the better of their two fourth-round picks to the Los Angeles Chargers for wide receiver Keenan Allen. Chicago also did not add any 2024 picks trading quarterback Justin Fields, who only returned a conditional 2025 sixth-rounder that can, at best, upgrade to a fourth.

Still, the Bears have the resources to add a dominant defensive tackle if they believe it is the missing piece of their defense. Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton and Texas’ Byron Murphy II are both likely to be available when the Bears make their second first-round selection at No. 9 overall. Either choice might be too rich for a top-10 pick, but both start making more sense if the Bears trade back into the mid-to-late teens of the first round.

Trading back could also yield an additional Day 2 pick for the Bears, which gives them options for addressing their needs on their defensive line. If they move back but stay inside the top 20 and add a top-50 pick in the process, there are several plans of attack that could result in them walking out of the draft with a three-tech and an edge rusher.

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