After spending $33 million guaranteed and getting two sacks from Robert Quinn, the Bears are in no financial position to improve their edge pass rush in free agency.
If they want to add young depth, the opportunity exists in the draft.
The trouble with this is they just tried to do it last year this way. They spent a fourth-round pick from this draft to take Trevis Gipson last year in Round 5.
Gipson barely made a scratch this year. He had one play when he put a good and legal hit on Aaron Rodgers just after the ball was away and cameras captured a look on Rodgers' face seemingly expressing "who was that?"
There wasn't much else from Gipson beyond former edge linebackers coach Ted Monachino saying "He's got a ways to go yet," as well as the revelation Gipson had gone a few consecutive weeks as the scout team player of the week.
Gipson tried to learn and the Bears liked the rangy Tulsa rookie's attitude as he tried to absorb what he saw from Khalil Mack.
"I like the power, the power moves and the long-arm moves," Gipson said. "Khalil, he’s a great example of that. He's used a lot of those against opponents and that's been something that I've tried to implement into my game."
There's no reason the Bears should sit and wait for this to happen or be content with one prospect behind Quinn and Mack. They still have James Vaughters as he's an exclusive rights free agent and really has no chance to leave unless the Bears decided not to tender an offer.
Barkevious Mingo proved very useful as an all-around type of backup edge, but is a free agent.
The Bears missed Leonard Floyd—not necessarily the pass rusher but the overall speed threat. Of course, if they could have ever gotten 10 1/2 sacks out of him like the Rams did they would have missed this as well. But Floyd's speed and persistence in the rush often chased quarterbacks into others' hands and he also contributed as a run stopper off the back side. Not having his overall speed left the Bears more prone to scrambling quarterbacks, as well. He used to track them down from behind often once they got a yard or 2 beyond the line of scrimmage.
With Gipson's ceiling still uncertain, it wouldn't be a waste for the Bears to draft another edge rusher if one fell in their laps later in the draft.
CBS analyst Chris Trapasso has called this a fantastic year for edge rushers but it almost seems they say this every year.
The best edges include Penn State's Jayson Oweh, Michigan's Kwity Payne, Miami's Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips, Georia's Azeez Ojulari and Houston's Payton Turner.
FanNation's NFL Draft Bible refers to Ojulari as a potential find, or an "athletic freak." He has a bit of the reputation Floyd had coming out of Georgia, except he's a little less refined.
The Bears would be looking later, but it's interesting how Pro Football Focus' 20th-best prospect overall is Penn State edge Jayson Oweh. The Bears draft 20th.
This is a player right up Ryan Pace's alley in that he is reported to have speed in the 4.3s, which is almost unheard of for an edge rusher. And several scouts have upgraded him greatly in recent weeks based on improvement against the run last season. The pro days may tell the tale on his place in the draft.
If a truly special pass rusher fell to the Bears at 20 would they ignore obvious offensive needs to take the talent? It's a fascinating topic to ponder.
Here are the edges projected by many analysts or mocks to be available in Round 3 or later in case they want to add someone to give Gipson and Vaughters competition, if not Quinn.
Dayo Odeyingo, Vanderbilt
This is a player who could rise greatly because of his versatility. At 6-foot-6, 275, he has the size to be a 4-3 end but he displayed the speed and athletic ability to be an edge in a 3-4. Often players like this either star or bomb out. He needed a big final season since he hadn't produced much and he had it with eight tackles for loss in eight games and 5 1/2 sacks, so the arrow is up.
Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
A proven rusher who hasn't displayed great all-around measurables but has produced when called upon. At 6-4, 265, he is a long-armed fly swatter who doesn't make a lot of mistakes and can play the run.
Projected by FanNation in the Round 3 to Round 4 range.
Joe Tryon, Washington
Labeled by The Draft Network as a player ideal for a hybrid type defense, he might be perfect with the Bears. A bit light at 6-4, 251, he still is viewed by many scouts as extremely solid against the run. In fact, some are calling him a potential 4-3 end despite his need to be bigger.
Cameron Sample, Tulane
Played both as a stand-up linebacker and a down lineman, his NFL projection is probably more along the lines of a 4-3 end. His bull rush and an ability to stand up against the run have made him seem more like a 4-3 end, but his productivity in the pass rush has led to speculation he could be an edge 3-4.
Overall, a lack of unique measurables will tend to make him a 4-3 end.
Jordan Smith, UAB
His ability to beat Alabama's Alex Leatherwood in practice week at the Senior Bowl earned him plenty of attention. A lanky player at 6-6 1/2 and 255, he's a bit of a Leonard Floyd type in this regard. More technique and speed in his rush rather than power, he was productive in 2019 with 8 sacks and 14 1/2 tackles for loss. So he played above the level of competition, which scouts love in players not in a power five conference.
His numbers didn't fall off much in 2020 as he had 4 1/2 sacks nine TFLs despite playing only eight games due to the pandemic.
Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa
A bit of a sleeper type because he played in the FCS but no one would deny his productivty at that level warrants a good look. He was dominant. He had 14 sacks in 2019 but then opted out last year. He finished with 22 sacks in his career. In 2019 he had 21 1/2 tackles for loss in addition to the sacks.
At 6-7, 245, he would be considered a Floyd type who has to add some weight, but his athleticism is undeiable. He'd just need to refine his technique to beat some of the NFL's best.
Chris Rumph II, Duke
If there is a natural team to take him at some point in the draft, it's the Bears. Who else could have a better scouting report? The Bears just hired his dad to be the defensive line coach.
He was highly productive with 21 1/2 tackles for loss and 9 1/2 career sacks but his 6-4, 235-pound size shows he needs to add strength and weight.
Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State
A sure producer from the middle rounds simply because he's got that Ohio State pedigree as a defensive player. Has ideal size for an edge in the 3-4 at 6-4, 257 and made 10 sacks and 15 career tackles for loss. A stable player who could provide immediate depth. Enjoyed one of the better weeks at his position during Senior Bowl practices.
Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame
A five-year player for the Irish due to a shoulder injury in 2019 that required surgery, he came back with six tackles for loss and three sacks in 2020 following the injury to finish his a career with nine sacks and 20 1/2 tackles for loss. He played from a standing position at Notre Dame and some project him as a traditional 4-3 strong-side linebacker but the experience he has also says he could play the edge role like Mingo played last year for the Bears.
Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State
Scouts are trying to determine where the Rashed went who they saw in 2019. He set the school's single-season sack record with 14 in 2019 finished his career with only 16 1/2 sacks. Because of his earlier productivity its possible a team could reach for him but based on his decline it looks like Day 3 for him.
Ronnie Perkins Oklahoma
Has the size to be an edge rusher in a 3-4 at 6-3, 251 but maybe not the athleticism and some are portraying him as more of a five-technique end instead of an edge rusher. However, he'd need to add a great deal of weight to play that position in Chicago's defense.