Barring a late offseason move by Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace, the 2020 roster is set. However, for many players on the team that’s as far as their commitment goes. Today, we’ll take a look at the top five players looking for new contracts past 2020. In this list, I left out any players who are new to the team this season, as well as highly publicized players such as Mitchell Trubisky and Allen Robinson, who have very public contract situations ongoing. With that all being said, let’s get into it.
Honorable Mention: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB/KR
Cordarrelle Patterson has become a fan favorite in Chicago as the primary kick returner and for his ability to play multiple positions. He’s set to make $5 million this upcoming season, yet suddenly finds himself in a crowded wide receiver room with new players like Darnell Mooney and Ted Ginn Jr. Whether he gets more opportunities on offense or not, Patterson has proven in the past that he can make huge plays on special teams and that alone should make him valuable on the market. Ryan Pace might have a potential bidding war on his hands if he chooses to keep Patterson around.
#5: Deon Bush, Safety
Deon Bush has a golden opportunity in front of him this season. For the first time since he was drafted in 2016, he goes into training camp in an open battle for a starting position. The Miami product hasn’t seen the field much in his short career, starting only eight games in four seasons, but the organization seems to believe in Bush. The team did bring in veteran safety Tashaun Gibson, but if Deon manages to win the starting job opposite of Eddie Jackson, expect him to be rewarded with a new deal next offseason.
#4: Pat O’Donnell, Punter
Who said punters can’t get paid? Since being drafted in 2014, Pat O’Donnell has shown glimpses of being an elite NFL punter. His 44.9 yards per punt ranks 15th among active players and he recorded the second-longest punt in the NFL last season, booting a 75-yard bomb. He’s also shown off his ability to throw the football, tossing a touchdown in 2017 against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. O’Donnell is far from a perfect punter and while there are probably better options on the market, chances are his price will keep him in Chicago past 2020.
#3: Kevin Tolliver, Cornerback
With Kyle Fuller as the team’s top corner and Buster Skrine covering the slot, the opposite outside corner position is wide open. While many believe rookie corner Jaylon Johnson is a lock at that position, defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend thinks otherwise.
“You never want to give anybody their job, and I don’t want Jaylon to think it’s his job because we drafted him. When I talk to my guys and what I believe in my room is nothing is handed to you, and I don’t want anybody to feel that something is handed to them.”Deshea Townsend, Chicago Bears DB Coach
Enter Kevin Toliver. The third-year corner out of LSU has found himself as the “next man up” the past few seasons, consistently filling in for an injured Prince Amukamara, who is no longer with the team. One can assume this has him in good graces with the coaching staff and if Toliver can win the starting position in camp, he can expect to have a decent market waiting for him in free agency. However, if Jaylon Johnson shows glimpses of his potential, that market will most likely be outside of Chicago.
#2: Roy Robertson-Harris, DE/DT
Don’t let the stats fool you, Roy Robertson-Harris has proven his value to Ryan Pace. The undrafted pass rusher out of Texas-El Paso was rewarded with his second one year deal in a row this offseason, leaving many to wonder if an extension is in the future. With players like Aaron Lynch and Leonard Floyd no longer on the team, RRH is expected to have an expanded role on defense in 2020, specifically in the pass rush. While his 5.5 sacks the last two seasons don’t stand out on paper, Robertson-Harris has had 22 QB hits and 32 pressures in that same span. If he can capitalize on more opportunities and turn more pressures into sacks, expect RRH to earn a rich contract on the open market.
#1: Tarik Cohen, RB/PR
When it comes to his talent and importance to Head Coach Matt Nagy’s scheme, Tarik Cohen is a no brainer for Ryan Pace to retain. Where it gets complicated is how his value looks around the league. A player who can catch out of the backfield and line up in the slot is the ideal running back in the modern-day NFL. Pass heavy teams are always looking for versatility and Cohen has no shortage of it. If Tarik can take advantage of his opportunities in the running, passing, and return game in 2020, there is a good chance he will be one of the top running backs on the market. Expect Ryan Pace to attempt to make a deal happen, but don’t be surprised if a team offers Cohen a number that Chicago cannot match.