Trade speculation is a common occurrence in the NFL this time of year. Fans start wondering if their team has anything in the works. The Chicago Bears are no different. Many have already been speculating on whether new GM Ryan Poles might consider making a play for talented Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley. It sounds like he could soon be on the block, and the Bears desperately need more weapons for Justin Fields. However, the cost to get him might be prohibitive. However, a more plausible scenario worth watching is that of Grady Jarrett.
Remember that the Bears are shifting back to a 4-3 defense under Matt Eberflus. This will change the requirements of the defensive line compared to years past. No longer will they be focused on stopping the run and eating space. Now it will be about shooting gaps and wreaking havoc in the backfield. No position is more important in such a defense than three-technique defensive tackle. The designated interior pass rusher.
Right now, the Bears don’t have one.
Jarrett would change that. While not Aaron Donald, the Falcons’ former Pro Bowler remains one of the most disruptive interior linemen in the NFL. Though he only had 1.5 sacks in 2021, he did finish with a team-high 36 pressures and ten hits on the quarterback. So his presence was constantly felt. Just imagine what he might be able to accomplish with Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack drawing blockers to the edges.
It is a conversation worth having because there is a belief Atlanta might consider shopping the 29-year old this offseason. The team is rebuilding and is currently more than $7 million over the salary cap. Trading Jarrett would net them a little over $16 million in cap space. It would be a difficult loss, but some hear the organization is preparing to make that sacrifice. The price tag to get him probably wouldn’t be too prohibitive either. Given his age and production last year, it would range somewhere between a 4th and 5th round pick.
Falcons seem to be actively taking calls for DT Grady Jarrett and some I’ve spoken to believe he is being shopped. @rotounderworld
— Cam Marino (@MarinoNFL) February 8, 2022
Grady Jarrett out here swimming 💪
📺: FOX | @GradyJarrett pic.twitter.com/ZadFIsmG4O
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 26, 2021
Grady Jarrett won this rep before the ball was snapped. Watch him adjust his stance to cock himself inside. He read RG’s tight split and his weight being off his hand, so he knew a pull was coming. Once he fired off and got skinny there was no way the center could back block him. pic.twitter.com/q5nmuxa7VE
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) July 8, 2021
Grady Jarrett is worth the risk if one issue can be solved
That is money. Entering the final year of his current contract, Jarrett will carry a hefty salary cap hit of $23.833 million. That is way too high for Chicago. Especially with so many other positions they need to fill, and only five draft picks available. If they want to make any such trade work, it starts with figuring out that contract. The simplest solution would be an extension. One that gives the veteran some new guaranteed money while allowing the Bears to lower his 2022 cap hit to something more manageable.
It isn’t easy, but it would be a worthwhile venture. A potential three-man combination of Grady Jarrett, Mack, and Quinn could terrify NFL quarterbacks over the next couple of seasons. It would keep the defense strong and allow Poles to focus the remainder of his resources on fortifying the offense around Justin Fields.
Then around 2024, the Bears should have more draft capital to start getting younger.
Nobody is saying this is an ideal solution. Under normal circumstances, the team would get younger now and avoid taking on big contracts. However, the previous regime made that approach difficult with the endless aggressive trades in earlier drafts. Trading for Jarrett isn’t going to solve that problem, but it should make them more competitive in 2022.
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