Aug 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) scrambles against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

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

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus on the sidelines against the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Bears retain Matt Eberflus, fire OC Luke Getsy

Head coach Matt Eberflus was retained for the 2024 season but his offensive coaching staff is getting a facelift, per multiple reports Wednesday.

Eberflus, 10-24 since being hired to replace Matt Nagy, parted with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko. He’s also been operating without a defensive coordinator since Alan Williams resigned in September.

Hiring coordinators could be tricky for Eberflus because he has only two years remaining on his original four-year contract.

Eberflus called defensive plays for the balance of the season and Chicago ranked in the top six in most major categories over the final 10 games of the season.

Under Getsy, the Bears finished 28th in total offense in 2022 and 20th in 2023.

The change also factors into the quarterback situation. Justin Fields would be learning yet another offense in what sets up as a possible make-or-break year.

Speculation about Fields’ future is rampant. The Bears have the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft and general manager Ryan Poles said before last year’s draft, when he swapped the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers for two first-rounders and wide receiver DJ Moore, that this year’s first-round pick was important in the trade because it could be used on a franchise quarterback.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back David Montgomery (5) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Lions rally in fourth quarter to upend Bears

David Montgomery scored on a 1-yard run with 29 seconds remaining and the Detroit Lions rallied from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull out a 31-26 victory over the visiting Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Montgomery, a former Bears running back, rushed for 76 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. Jared Goff, who threw a season-high three interceptions, engineered two fourth-quarter scoring drives and finished with 236 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Amon-Ra St. Brown caught eight passes for 77 yards and a touchdown for Detroit (8-2).

Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who missed the four previous games with a thumb injury, passed for 169 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 104 yards. DJ Moore caught seven passes for 96 yards and a touchdown for Chicago (3-8).

Down 26-14, Goff hooked up with Jameson Williams on a 32-yard score with 2:59 remaining to cut the deficit to five.

Detroit forced a three-and-out to set up the game-winning 73-yard drive. It began with a 13-yard completion from Goff to Montgomery and culminated with Montgomery’s 1-yard run. Goff then completed a two-point conversion pass to Sam LaPorta.

Aidan Hutchinson forced Fields to fumble and the ball was kicked out of the end zone, resulting in a safety with 22 seconds left.

Detroit led 14-10 at halftime.

On Chicago’s opening drive, D’Onta Foreman scored on a 1-yard run.

A fumble recovery by Detroit’s Alex Anzalone at the Bears’ 34-yard line set up Detroit’s first touchdown. Jahmyr Gibbs rushed from 2 yards out with 9:23 left in the half.

Chicago then had the ball for over seven minutes but had to settle for Cairo Santos’ 31-yard field goal.

Goff found St. Brown over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the half.

Santos drilled a 53-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to cut the Lions’ lead to 14-13.

The Bears forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and cashed in three plays later, as Fields threw a 39-yard strike to Moore.

After Goff was intercepted for the third time, Chicago made it a two-possession game on Santos’ 40-yard field goal. Santos made a 39-yard field goal with 4:15 remaining for a 26-14 advantage.

Tyrique Stevenson, T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds recorded the three interceptions for Chicago.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) warms up before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bears QB Justin Fields out, Tyson Bagent to start vs. Raiders

A dislocated right thumb will keep Chicago quarterback Justin Fields from playing Sunday against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent will start for the Bears (1-5), whose coach Matt Eberflus said Friday that the team does not see Fields needing surgery or time on injured reserve at this time.

“We are not on that path right now. We are trending in the right direction,” Eberflus said.

“He’s improving. Mobility is getting better, swelling going down. Grip strength is better. … He’ll be week-to-week. We’ll know more on Monday.”

Fields dislocated his right thumb during last Sunday’s 19-13 loss to the visiting Minnesota Vikings. He left the game in the third quarter after being tackled face-down with his body weight landing on the thumb beneath him.

X-rays and an MRI exam showed no long-term damage, but Eberflus said Fields experienced significant swelling that weakens his grip on the ball. Fields, 24, had been listed as doubtful this week to face the Raiders (3-3).

In six games this season, Fields has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,201 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has also rushed 47 times for 237 yards and a score.

Bagent, 23, was one of the remarkable stories of the preseason for the Bears. The rookie from Division II Shepherd University beat out PJ Walker to back up Fields. Bagent scored a rushing touchdown in his NFL debut but lost a fumble and threw a game-ending interception against Minnesota. He finished 10 of 14 for 83 yards.

“I know the guys have a lot of confidence in him,” Eberflus said. “He’s a very confident guy. And again, he’s got good arm talent. He’s got good poise and pocket presence and we’re excited to see where it goes.”

Nathan Peterman is the other quarterback on the active roster. Peterman, 29, has 13 interceptions in 13 career games, including five starts. He entered the NFL in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills and also played for the Raiders.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; A general view as Purdue Boilermakers punter Jack Ansell (30) punts the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Wrigley Field to host Iowa-Northwestern football game

Iowa will face Northwestern in a Big Ten football game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Nov. 4.

It is the latest in a series of games played at the baseball stadium since Northwestern and the Chicago Cubs announced a multi-year agreement in 2013.

The Wildcats hosted Purdue at the historic ballpark on Nov. 20, 2021, with the Boilermakers winning 32-14.

Northwestern played Illinois at Wrigley Field in 2010 in the first college football game played there since 1938.

The Chicago Bears played home games there from 1921-70.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball for a first down against the New York Giants during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley run Giants past Bears

Daniel Jones rushed for two touchdowns and Saquon Barkley ran for 146 yards to help the New York Giants post a 20-12 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at East Rutherford, N.J.

Dexter Lawrence had two of New York’s five sacks as the defense repeatedly stymied Chicago scoring drives. Barkley also had 16 receiving yards on two catches for The Giants (3-1).

Michael Badgley kicked four field goals for all the points for the Bears (2-2). He was signed Saturday to fill in for Cairo Santos (personal reasons).

Justin Fields completed 11 of 22 passes for 174 yards for the Bears.

Jones injured his left ankle late in the third quarter but was forced to return in the fourth after backup Tyrod Taylor also got hurt. Taylor was being evaluated for a concussion.

Jones rushed for 68 yards and completed 8 of 13 passes for 71 yards.

Chicago’s bid to put together a late drive was halted when Velus Jones Jr. muffed a punt. New York’s Gary Brightwell recovered at the Bears’ 37-yard line with 2:01 left.

Though Graham Gano eventually clanked a 37-yard field goal off the left upright, there was just 17 seconds left when Chicago got the ball as the Giants closed out the victory.

Jones was injured while being sacked by Chicago’s Jaquan Brisker with just over three minutes left in the third quarter. He stayed in for the rest of the drive before being worked on by trainers and getting the ankle heavily taped.

Taylor replaced Jones but he got hurt on a play in which he scrambled for 8 yards. A collision with Chicago’s Kyler Gordon caused Taylor to exit. Meanwhile, Jones limped back on the field.

Badgley’s fourth field goal, a 35-yard, pulled Chicago within 14-12 with 11:02 left in the third quarter.

Gano kicked field goals of 44 and 43 yards to increase the Giants’ advantage to eight with 5:31 remaining.

Jones rushed for two touchdowns as the Giants led 14-9 at halftime.

Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal with 8:27 left in the opening quarter. Just more than three minutes later, Jones scored on a 21-yard keeper down the left sideline to put New York ahead.

Badgley booted a 22-yarder with 1:30 left in the opening period, but Jones was at it again when scored on an 8-yard keeper to give the Giants a 14-6 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first half. Badgley made a 40-yard field goal with 1:44 left to leave Chicago trailing by five at the break.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; In this drone image, a general view of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline before a game between the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans the at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago unveils plans to put roof over Soldier Field

In an effort to keep the Chicago Bears along the shore of Lake Michigan, the city has proposed a $2.2-billion makeover to historic Soldier Field, which would be the second major enhancement to the venue in the last two decades.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed plans to turn Soldier Field into a domed stadium in order to enhance the current home of the Bears, as well as the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

A portion of the price tag would be paid for by selling the naming rights to the stadium, although any deal with require it to still be seen as a war memorial and likely still have “Soldier” somewhere in the new name.

“We need to invest in Soldier Field. Soldier Field must be a year-round destination,” Lightfoot said Monday. “We must enhance the fan experience. And that’s precisely what we aim to do.

“We are making a compelling case for the Bears to stay in Chicago. They want a Tier One stadium to maximize revenues and we agree.”

News has circulated for years that the Bears could be on the move to a new stadium in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Ill. That venue would be built at the sight of the former Arlington Park race track, which was closed in 2021 and slated for redevelopment.

In September of last year, the Bears signed a purchase agreement to acquire the property for just shy of $200 million. In March, the Bears hired an architecture firm to come up with stadium plans.

But the Bears’ lease at Soldier Field runs until 2033, and while they have the chance to break the lease in 2026, it would come with an $84 million penalty, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Bears have played at Soldier Field since 1971 after moving there from Wrigley Field. The Fire played there from 1998-2005 before moving to a more intimate stadium in the Southside suburbs, but they returned in 2020.

A Soldier Field renovation that started in 2002 ended up with a $632 million price tag, temporarily forcing the Bears to move to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on the campus of the University of Illinois, for the 2002 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; A general view of the exterior of Soldier Field before the game between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Chicago poised to examine dome for Soldier Field

A city committee is likely to convene in Chicago soon to explore the possibility of putting a dome on Soldier Field, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

A dome could make the nearly century-old stadium more desirable for the Chicago Bears and other potential users, if it is economically and architecturally viable. The Bears signed a purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill., and could build a stadium complex there.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in February that adding a dome could be considered as part of the work done by her Lakefront Museum Campus Working Group, which is reimaging the area around Soldier Field.

Crain’s said a draft of a soon-to-be-released report prepared by the group said a dome could cost anywhere from $400 million to $1.5 billion and likely would require public financial assistance.

In addition to a dome, the city could consider a variety of structural changes to Soldier Field, including “substantially rebuilding” parts of the stadium, per Crain’s. Selling naming rights also could be under consideration.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago,” Lightfoot said in an interview on WSCR-AM 670 in February. “We’re working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes an abundance of sense for them to stay in Chicago.”

Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District. With 61,500 fans, it has the lowest capacity in the NFL.

It opened in 1924. The next-oldest stadium in the league is Lambeau Field in Green Bay, which dates to 1957.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans safety Dane Cruikshank (29) amps up the crowd during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans Chiefs 209

Bears sign ex-Titans S Dane Cruikshank

The Chicago Bears signed safety Dane Cruikshank to a one-year contract Thursday.

The 26-year-old Cruikshank spent the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He appeared in 44 games (four starts), recording 65 tackles, two passes defended and one interception.

Cruikshank provides the Bears with depth in the secondary as well as special-teams experience. He had 18 special-teams tackles from 2018-19, which ranked second on the Titans during that time.

Tennessee drafted Cruikshank in the fifth round (No. 152 overall) out of Arizona in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Bears game offers Vikings chance to boost playoff chances

The Minnesota Vikings will look to bolster their chances of making the playoffs when they visit the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Minnesota (6-7) is part of a crowded group of teams in the NFC with six or seven wins that is chasing after potential wild-card berths in the postseason. The Vikings are coming off a 36-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and have three wins in their past five games.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook needs only 22 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone for the third season in a row. He is averaging 119.7 yards from scrimmage (97.8 rushing, 21.9 receiving) in 10 games this season.

“It’s a tough defense we’re going against, I can tell you that,” Cook said. “Their system they run, the guys they bring in, fits what they’re trying to do. We’ve got to be ready for a tough task on Monday, and I know that we’re putting in the work with these extra days that we’ve got.”

Chicago (4-9) is hoping for a bright spot in what has been a dreary season. The Bears have lost two games in a row and seven of their last eight.

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields has offered glimpses of his potential, but he also has endured growing pains in his first season out of Ohio State. Fields has a 69.3 passer rating on the season while throwing for 1,585 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also has rushed for 385 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

David Montgomery leads the Bears with 801 yards from scrimmage (608 rushing, 193 receiving) but sometimes has had to take on less of a role with the Bears playing from behind.

Montgomery is dealing with an illness that kept him out of Thursday’s practice. Chicago did not have 19 players available because of injuries or illness, and all three of the team’s coordinators – Bill Lazor (offense), Sean Desai (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams) – were forced to stay away as part of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“It’s the next-man-up mentality, not just for the players, but for coaches, too, is the way that I look at it,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “In these types of moments, what you’ve got to do is try to stay really positive, take care of your body, stay together and realize that we’re not the only ones right now in that.”

The Vikings also are facing uncertainty with COVID-19 cases on the rise once again. The Vikings have put Alexander Mattison, Dede Westbrook and Dan Chisena on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins will try to maintain his recent success away from home. Cousins has thrown at least two touchdown passes in nine straight road games, and on Monday he will try to become the sixth signal-caller in NFL history to do it in 10 consecutive road games.

Cousins’ top target, Justin Jefferson, also is looking to put his name in the history books. Jefferson needs 68 receiving yards to surpass Odell Beckham Jr. (2,755 receiving yards) for the most ever by a receiver in his first two seasons.

The Bears have won five of their last six games against Minnesota and lead the all-time series, 61-56-2.

–Field Level Media