The Toughest Call for Bears is an Either-Or Situation

Gene Chamberlain

The most difficult decision facing the Bears before the March 18 free agency period is deciding between signing backup linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski or signing starter Danny Trevathan.

Make no mistake, it does come down to an either-or decision in this case and not entirely because of available cash under the salary cap.

Of course, money is always a concern. But for these two the issue is more who is the starter and who isn't.

Why would Kwiatkoski want to come back to Chicago if it meant sitting behind Trevathan for more seasons when there are other teams who would pay for him to come and start?

He wouldn't.

So the Bears have to determine first, if they think Kwiatkoski is capable of starting now after being a highly used backup for four years, and then go about making the offer.

That decision likely has long ago been made. They've been gushing about Kwiatkoski's play since back in mid-season.

"He's made plays, made a huge interception to help us win a game and tackle after tackle, commuincation, wearing the—comms, the communication—being out in front of the huddle, getting the call to everybody, getting everybody lined up, playing Mike linebacker and being in charge of the huddle," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "You're involved in the run. You're involved in the pass. You've got to get guys lined up. You've got to get the call from the sideline. Youve got to get the personnel. You've got to get guys lined up. There's a lot there and for a guy that stepped in and really didn't have a lot of playing time (before), and he doesn't have opportunities during the the week (normally)." 

Actually, Kwiatkoski is more experienced than most backup linebackers. He came into the season with 14 career starts due to past injuries and suspensions, and now has 22. The eight he had in 2019 was a career high.

Kwiatkoski made at least 44 tackles each of his four seasons, with 2018 being the only season he didn't.

Last season for the first time Kwiatkoski also made a positive impact as a coverage linebacker with four passes broken up and his first career interception. Pro Football Focus gave him a 72.6 score for the season, which easily beat Trevathan's score of 61.9.

Ages of players will no doubt come back to weigh in on this decision. Trevathan will be 30 and Kwiatkoski 27. And Trevathan although Trevathan has been productive, an emotional leader and overall leader, he has missed 18 games due to injuries or suspension since coming to Chicago.

GM Ryan Pace mentioned at season's end how availability counts.

All of these add up to a tough decision but one in which Kwiatkoski logically would return as a Bear.

Then again, stranger things have happened and the market place can be fickle.

Fickle can best be described as opposing teams entering the bidding and driving up the signing price. The Packers have done this type of thing in the past, and no doubt they'd be interested in a linebacker upgrade after the way their own inside due performed during the NFC championship game.


Comments (2)
No. 1-1

A possible solution. Sign Kwiatkowski as ILB and Pierre-Louis as OLB. Let Trevathan and Floyd go, saving $13M cap space off Floyd alone As fast as KPL is and his ability to blitz, he should be able to adjust to OLB. That would be a terrific LB quartet: Mack, Smith, Kwiatkwski, Pierre-Louis.