Chicago Bears roster review: Which position groups are better after free agency and the draft? And which are worse?

Chicago Bears roster review: Which position groups are better after free agency and the draft? And which are worse?

The Chicago Bears will host rookie minicamp this weekend at Halas Hall and then will ramp up the offseason program with organized team activities later this month and into June.

Those sessions will allow the Bears coaching staff, under Matt Eberflus, to get a look at a roster that general manager Ryan Poles significantly revamped on the offensive side of the ball.

As the Bears get ready to take their rebuild to the next level, here’s a look at how their roster has shaped up since free agency and the draft — and whether each position group looks better, worse or the same as in 2023.

*Does not include undrafted rookies.


Status: Better.

Rundown: If Williams pans out as the Bears — and much of the NFL — expect, this should be a significant upgrade. That’s not to say the success will be immediate — or that there won’t be growing pains. But the Bears see huge potential in Williams’ arm talent, pocket feel and playmaking ability. With that confidence in what Williams can become, they traded three-year starter Fields.

Bagent returns as a backup whose potential the Bears like, and Rypien, 27, comes in to compete. Along with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, the Bears have longtime NFL backup quarterback Ryan Griffin on staff as an offensive assistant to help guide Williams.

“(Williams) is a guy that has all the tools,” Poles said. “It’s going to take hard work. It’s going to take getting in sync with his teammates. There’s a long road up ahead to develop the places where he needs to develop to win games and bring a championship here. But the beautiful thing is we have the right people here, we have the right teammates. I feel really good about it.”

Wide receivers

Status: Better.

Rundown: Aside from quarterback, which the Bears certainly hope will be a big upgrade, this is the most improved position group on the roster.

In his first year with the Bears and sixth in the NFL, Moore had a career season in 2023 with 96 catches for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns. And now the Bears add Allen, a six-time Pro Bowler coming off one of his best seasons, and Odunze, who led FBS with 1,640 receiving yards at Washington last season. Eberflus said he thinks Odunze will fit right in with the group and praised his work ethic and his explosiveness.

“It’s fun to be able to throw DJ or Rome or Keenan a little 5-yard pass and all of sudden it turns into 20 or 25, and it looks pretty good on the stat line,” Eberflus said. “You win with explosive plays, and those guys bring that to the table.”

Scott, Jones and Pettis, whom the Bears brought back on a one-year contract, fill out the depth after Mooney, St. Brown and Taylor went to Atlanta, New Orleans and San Francisco, respectively.

Running backs

Status: Better.

Rundown: The Bears bring back most of their running backs group — including 2023 leading rusher Herbert — but made one key swap. Swift joined the Bears on a three-year contract after a career season with the Philadelphia Eagles in which he had 229 carries for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns, along with 39 catches for 214 yards. He replaces Foreman, who played in nine games with 109 carries for 425 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears are excited about what Johnson can do in his second season after a rookie year in which he had 352 rushing yards and 209 receiving yards.

Tight ends

Status: Better.

Rundown: Kmet is coming off the best season of his career with 73 catches for 719 yards and six touchdowns, and now he has a new teammate in his room with the addition of Everett, who has experience working with Waldron. Everett has had at least 400 receiving yards each of the last five years of his seven-year career. Tonyan wasn’t incredibly productive in his short time with the Bears. Lewis was a respected leader within the Bears locker room in his 18th season in 2023, but the Bears now have a solid veteran group overall on offense.

Offensive line

Status: Better.

Rundown: The Bears return four of five starters, including tackles Jones and Wright and guards Jenkins and Davis. The change comes at center, where the Bears replaced veterans Whitehair and Patrick. Bates, who played in 73 games for the Buffalo Bills, comes in with the likely track toward starting, but Shelton, who started 32 games over the last three seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, is competition. The overall depth has improved with the additions of those two and Pryor and Amegadjie, a Yale offensive tackle the Bears took in the third round.

“You love the tools that he has,” Poles said of the rookie. “His pass pro is really good. Love his length, hand usage. And a big man that we believe is going to continue to get bigger and more explosive, so it should really increase the competition on our offensive line and make everyone better.”

Defensive line

Status: Worse.

Rundown: The acquisition and extension of Sweat midseason in 2023 was the big upgrade for the Bears, but since the season ended, Poles hasn’t made many splashy moves on the defensive line. Three-technique defensive tackle Justin Jones, who started all 34 games over the last two seasons, signed a three-year, $31.2 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Bears are hoping improvement comes from defensive tackles Dexter and Pickens making leaps in their second seasons. The Bears picked Booker in the fifth round out of Kansas, and Eberflus said he’s long, fast with a good closing burst and a lot of upside. But there’s a good chance Poles continues to add to this group before training camp, especially at defensive end to supplement Sweat and Walker. Ngakoue, who broke his ankle in December, could return, or Poles could weigh other options.


Status: Same.

Rundown: The Bears made their big acquisitions at linebacker last season when they added Edmunds and Edwards. That duo combined for 268 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven interceptions, 14 passes defended, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 2023. The pair grew stronger as the season went on and will be expected to pick up where they left off as the heart of the defense. Sanborn moved to strongside linebacker and filled in capably when Edmunds was out. The Bears brought in Ogbongbemiga as special teams reinforcement.


Status: Same.

Rundown: Poles’ biggest move at cornerback was to sign Johnson to a four-year, $76 million contract extension. That came after Johnson had a career-high four interceptions, including a pick-six, and 10 passes defended in his fourth season in 2023. The Bears saw growth from a more comfortable Kyler Gordon at nickel and will hope to see similar second-year strides from Stevenson and Smith, who each logged key experience in 2023. Stevenson finished his rookie year with four interceptions, 16 passes defended and two forced fumbles.


Status: Better.

Rundown: One of the biggest departures of the offseason beyond Fields was Jackson, whom the Bears cut after he had made 100 starts over seven seasons for the Bears. In his place, alongside Brisker, they install Byard, a two-time All-Pro who has 28 career interceptions over eight seasons. He had only one pick in 2023, but the Bears think he still has the ability to affect the defense at a high level.

“Smart. Experienced. Very good communicator. And ballhawk,” Eberflus said. “To me, those things are what you’re looking for. He’s got great range. He’s still got really good speed.”

On top of Byard, the Bears brought in additional depth in Jonathan Owens, who has started 30 games over the last three seasons for the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers.


Status: Better.

Rundown: The Bears took Taylor in the fourth round after he broke an 85-year-old NCAA record when he totaled 4,479 yards on 93 punts at Iowa in 2023. He comes in to replace Gill, whom the team released last week. Taylor joins Santos, who made 35 of 38 field goals and 31 of 33 extra points in 2023, and Scales, who is back for his ninth season with the Bears. The Bears have openings to fill at kick and punt returner.