Bears offseason primer: QB question dominates planning

Chicago Bears

2023 record: 7-10

Projected salary cap space: $82.9 million

Offseason storylines: Maybe you’ve heard about the decision facing Chicago at quarterback? Keeping Justin Fields for one more season – plus a fifth-year option available for next year – at $1.6 million and loading up the roster around him might excite part of the fan base. Starting over, with Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, also restarts the roster-building clock in that the Bears would have a QB1 at a total of up to $50 million for four years. Fields is undeniably a scintillating athlete but he hasn’t emphatically answered whether he’s a franchise quarterback three seasons into his pro career. The Bears were 27th in the NFL in passing and 20th in total offense last season.

Team Needs: DE, WR, FS, OL, TE

Top free agent: CB Jaylon Johnson – There’s still time to work out a deal both sides applaud but Johnson appears headed for the franchise tag, which pays cornerbacks $19.8 million on a one-year tender unless the two sides agree to a long-term extension by mid-July. Johnson wants to be one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league, and GM Ryan Poles dodges market-setting pacts as a matter of course.

Unrestricted free agents (as of March 11):

LB Dylan Cole

OG Dan Feeney

RB D’Onta Foreman

DE Rasheem Green

CB Jaylon Johnson

DT Justin Jones

TE Marcedes Lewis

WR Darnell Mooney

DE Yannick Ngakoue

OG Lucas Patrick

QB Nathan Peterman

LS Patrick Scales

WR Equanimeous St. Brown

WR Trent Taylor

TE Robert Tonyan Jr.

Exclusive Rights free agents:

DB Josh Blackwell

WR Joe Reed