Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears are about to see their season come to a close this weekend. They will not come close to the playoffs. Instead, they are playing for “seeding” in the 2023 NFL Draft. Justin Fields is on the shelf and Nathan Peterman is about to start. The team realistically has no shot of being better than 3-14 on the year, which means they are guaranteed the second-overall pick. The Texans need to win for Chicago to claim the top spot — possible but highly unlikely. If Chicago does find a way to win, then the worst they end up with is fourth.
No matter this week’s outcome, Ryan Poles has his work cut out for him. He has the most salary cap space of any other team in the NFL. Not by a small amount either. The closest team to the Chicago Bears is currently the Falcons who have a little over $50 million less than Chicago. In fact, that difference is equal to most teams’ actual salary cap space for 2023. Currently, the Patriots are predicted to have the fourth-highest salary cap at just under $50 million. That’s awesome!
The Chicago Bears could bring back these four players in 2023
Now, just because Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears have plenty of cap space doesn’t mean that they will go blow it all in one offseason. Poles will likely leave a decent amount on the table for 2024 also. Plus, if the team were to cut ties with anyone, this number could actually increase. Cody Whitehair comes to mind. If the Bears cut Whitehair and designate him as a post-June 1st cut, then they will save an additional $9.9 million to use on free agents.
This past week, Ryan Poles decided to bring back a player who was on a one-year deal this season. Poles extended Equanimeous St. Brown to another one-year deal worth $1.25 million. This is a slight bump in salary over his 2022 contract. St. Brown isn’t a great wide receiver, but he does all of the grunt work needed of a fourth or fifth WR in the league. The contract was well-deserved. However, the Bears cannot count on him being a WR1, WR2 or even a WR3 next year.
Here are four other pending free agents who could potentially return on contract extensions for 2023 and possibly beyond.