GM Ryan Pace will have his work cut out for him finding affordable difference makers in the free-agent market, but before he starts looking elsewhere, he will need to determine which of his own free agents need to be resigned.


Here’s a look at the Bears defensive free agents set to hit the market on March 18.


2020 Bears Free Agents

ILB – Danny Trevathan

ILB – Nick Kwiatkoski

FS –  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S – Deon Bush

S – Sherrick McManis

OLB – Aaron Lynch

DT – Nick Williams

OLB – Kevin Pierre-Louis

DE – Brett Urban


Pace’s first major decision is whether to keep Trevathan or Kwiatkoski. It would be a luxury to bring them both back but I don’t see that happening. Trevathan was having a great year in 2019, providing a viral highlight with his stop, look and go pass rush against Redskin guard Brandon Scherff to sack QB Case Keenam on a perfectly timed blitz. Unfortunately, he suffered a horrific elbow injury in week 10 against the Lions by trying to avoid a roughing the passer penalty and he finished the season on IR. Trevathan will turn 30 next year, his 9th year in the league.

Kwiatkoski is three years younger than Trevathan and played exceptionally well, taking over as the signal-caller and providing some pad popping hits, an interception and a safety in the remaining six games. Kwiatkoski is the longer-term solution, but he will be more expensive and garner interest from other teams. Trevathan is well respected in the locker room, is a team leader and my pick to return in a Bears uniform next year, considering their needs on the other side of the ball.

Haha-Clinton-Dix
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images

A decision will come down to sign either safety Clinton-Dix or Bush, but not both.  Bush will be the cheaper option but might want a fresh start and new opportunity elsewhere after sitting on the bench for most of the time with the Bears. It does seem like Pace is implementing a contingency plan at safety already by signing veteran Kentrell Brice to a reserve/future contract.

Brice, a Louisiana Tech product who lasted three years on the Packers roster, recorded his first NFL sack against Mitch Trubisky in the 2018 season opener. However, he was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp but could contribute on the roster next year.

Three other players that should be retained are special teams maven Sherrick McManis, DT Nick Williams, a productive rotational player on the interior line who has found a spot on the Bears after playing for three other teams and athletic linebacker Pierre-Louis, who is the first to admit he cost the Bears tremendously with his two running into the kicker penalties.


The free-agent decisions will be tough to make because of limited cap space. Pace needs to get these decisions right on defense if the team is going to find money to spend upgrading the offense and making a playoff run in 2020.

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