The Bears have a lot to figure out this offseason. While most of their question marks are on the offensive side of the ball, they also desperately need to find someone else to rush the passer opposite Montez Sweat. They could be in prime position to land one of the draft’s premier pass rushers with their second first-round selection. However, they could also strike gold if they’re willing to be buyers on the trade market once again, as one of the league’s premier edge-rushers could become available if his team opts to go in another direction at head coach.
Maxx Crosby is the perfect example of a massive success story. The three-time Pro Bowler has developed into one of the league’s best pass-rushers since being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Players of his caliber practically never become available via the trade market, but he has hinted at the possibility of exploring a trade if the team doesn’t move forward with (previous interim coach) Antonio Pierce as their head coach.
While a player demanding a trade over not getting their desired head coach would usually be a red flag, it’s easy to see where Crosby is coming from in this instance. Pierce led the team to a 5-4 record down the stretch after taking the job left by the departed Josh McDaniels. His stint may have been short, but his impact on their culture was clear, and the team played their heart out for him. The situation was eerily similar to the team’s turnaround after Rich Bisaccia took over the interim coaching job for Jon Gruden in 2021. Despite leading the team to a 7-5 record down the stretch, they opted to go a different route with the aforementioned McDaniels in the offseason.
On the field, there are very few pass-rushers better than Crosby. He is just as capable of beating opposing offensive linemen with a well-rounded repertoire of pass-rush moves as he is at running through them. His motor and work ethic are also second to none. He is coming off a career-best year with 14.5 sacks, and his 52 QB takedowns are tied for fifth-most since he entered the league in 2019. With that said, the scariest aspect of his game is that he has seemingly not yet reached his potential, so his best football is probably still ahead of him.
So, now that I’ve established his credentials, what would it take to land the 26-year-old if the Raiders go in another direction? The answer is, unsurprisingly, a lot. However, the Bears hold the key to the kingdom this offseason. Las Vegas desperately needs to improve the quarterback position, and Chicago’s trade with Carolina last offseason netted them the top pick in a draft with two extremely highly regarded prospects. If Ryan Poles is willing to run it back with Justin Fields, and the Raiders are willing to ignore history and make a similar move to the one Carolina did last offseason, then a trade involving the star pass-rusher becomes significantly more palatable.
The Raiders have the 13th pick in the draft. The three top passers (Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels) look like locks to be gone by then. If they hold Williams/Maye in a much higher regard than Daniels or another QB that could be available when they are on the board, then they might view Crosby as necessary collateral to get their quarterback of the future, especially considering just how far they would move up to get him, as Carolina moved up from the ninth spot last year. If the Raiders are willing to part ways with Crosby (and the added draft capital that would substantiate the deal), the Bears should jump at the offer.
Money is always a vital factor to consider when playing matchmaker on the trade market, and the Bears have the seventh-most available cap space (Spoctrac has them at $62 million), meaning they have more than enough money to take on his contract (he will have cap hits of $25-27 million over the next three seasons). Only a handful of teams could take on that contract without offing a few of their own players, and Chicago is one of them.
The Bears’ defense made strides once Sweat arrived in the Windy City. However, they struggled to get consistent pressure when rushing only four, and adding another proven threat on the edge would give Chicago one of the most well-rounded units in the league.
The Bears trade for Montez Sweat has already proven to be a great move, and adding Crosby (especially by way of a similar move to last year’s trade for DJ Moore) would prove to be just as fruitful. The pair would automatically become the most formidable pass-rushing duo in the league. Chicago holds the keys to the offseason again, and they can’t afford to fumble it. The opportunity to pick at the top of a loaded draft might be tantalizing, but the thought of adding Crosby to what they have already built on the defensive side of the ball might be too intriguing to pass up.