Despite the 49-29 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, the Bears should have left Dallas feeling good about the franchise’s direction. As long as quarterback Justin Fields continues to show incremental growth throughout this season, the rebuild will remain on track.
But the young signal-caller needs help.
Most of general manager Ryan Poles’ work will come in the offseason. The Bears are slated to have around $110 million in cap space available when all is said and done.
But Poles could get a head start on the roster rebuild at Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.
The Bears already made one savvy move, trading veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.
Poles said he didn’t expect any other trades to materialize, but there could be an opportunity for the Bears to be surprise buyers at the deadline with an eye toward the future.
The Bears are expected to be quiet ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, but things change fast in the NFL.
Here are five players that at least warrant a call from Poles as he starts to fill the many holes on the Bears’ roster.
D.J. Moore, WR
Let’s start with the big fish in the pond.
The Carolina Panthers already parted ways with star running back Christian McCaffrey, but all indications are they don’t intend to move Moore or defensive end Brian Burns.
Moore, 25, is a dynamic weapon that could help relieve Darnell Mooney’s pressure. He just agreed to a three-year contract extension, making the price to acquire him even steeper.
I’ve already explained why a trade for Moore likely isn’t in the Bears’ future. Given the state of the Bears’ roster, Poles is unlikely to part with the draft capital it would take to acquire Moore. Trading for Moore would also take up almost $20 million in salary cap space next season.
The Bears need a top-flight weapon, but now probably isn’t the time to make such a move.
Daron Payne, DT
I’m not sure what the going rate is for a 25-year-old defensive tackle in the final year of his rookie contract, but it should at least warrant a conversation inside Halas Hall.
The Commanders can’t pay everyone, and it looks like Payne will be the odd man out. The Bears have a huge need along the defensive line. Three-technique Justin Jones has been serviceable this season, but the Bears need more of a game-wrecker on the interior.
Defensive line should be a huge focus for Poles this offseason, but he could get a headstart on it if the price is right for Payne.
Denzel Mims/Elijah Moore, WR
The Jets refused Mims’ trade request in August. The young wide receiver was inactive for New York’s first six games. Elijah Moore’s trade request and Corey Davis’ injury forced the Jets to activate Mims the past two weeks.
Mims caught two passes for 76 yards against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
If the Jets aren’t going to use Mims, they might as well listen to offers for the former second-round pick.
The Bears should be interested in buying low on any former high draft picks. That includes Mims and Moore, whose trade request the Jets are also refusing.
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It’s clear that Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson top the pecking order in the Jets’ wide receiver room. Moore is frustrated about his touches and isn’t being utilized in the slot like he was in college. The Ole Miss receiver said Sunday that he couldn’t speak on his chemistry with quarterback Zach Wilson because he “isn’t getting the ball.”
By all accounts, the Jets do not plan to trade Moore or Mims ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. But adding a young, cheap, controllable receiver would be a big win for Poles as he looks toward 2023.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE
After Denver’s win Sunday in London, it seems even less likely that the Broncos will look to trade wide receivers Jerry Jeudy or K.J. Hamler.
But what about a 24-year-old tight end who has seemingly fallen out of favor with the staff?
After catching 33 passes for 330 yards last season, many expected Okwuegbunam to pop with quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ new offensive-oriented staff. But Okwuegbunam caught just seven passes for 50 yards in the first five games and has been a healthy scratch over the last few weeks.
It seems like he’s a player the Broncos might look to move for a late-round pick.
At 6-foot-5, Okwuegbunam has demonstrated an ability to create separation and make plays in the passing game. The Bears could use another legitimate pass-catching option at tight end besides Cole Kmet.
It’s the type of flier the Bears should be interested in taking if available.
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