The Bears won't be on a field in a regular-season game for nine months but when they areit will be without defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr.
Th e NFL announced Friday Edwards Jr. had been suspended without pay for the first two games of 2021 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Edwards Jr. is allowed to participate in training camp, offseason work and preseason games, but would have to sit out the first two weeks in the regular season.
They might not even have Edwards next season, anyway. He is an unrestricted free agent, just one of many the team has among backups on the defensive line. Retaining some of their depth on the defensive line is shaping up as one of the big challenges for GM Ryan Pace.
Roy Robertson-Harris is an unrestricted free agent and their four defensive lineman has an estimated market value of over $8 million a year, according to Spotrac.com. Robertson-Harris' wife Krystal was on Instagram Friday with a post thanking Chicago for everything, so they've apparently got the moving vans all set.
The Bears are up against the salary cap anyway, so retaining a backup lineman for a three-man line isn't a huge priority, and it could mean they retain Edwards. He was signed for $1.6 million this year.
The other unrestricted free agents on the defensive line for the Bears are backups Brent Urban, Daniel McCullers and John Jenkins. So their entire bench is going on the open market.
In Edwards' case, there is even more trouble in the background. He was charged with assault after a reported alleged domestic violence incident that took place in a North Carolina hotel room on October 17. This was the day before the Bears played the Carolina Panthers.
No resolution to that case has been announced to date.
Also Friday, the Bears signed wide receivers Reggie Davis and Jester Weah to futures contracts.