The Chicago Bears enter this offseason, for the first time in a long time, with very few needs. Consequently, they also find themselves with very little wiggle room with the salary cap.
That won’t stop Ryan Pace from getting creative in order to improve the roster in any way possible. Whether it is trading from an already limited draft pool to acquire Khalil Mack or trading up only one spot in the draft to ensure he got his quarterback, he’s proven he won’t let anything get in the way of acquiring talent.
So, while the idea of signing Terrell Suggs, a once great player and future Hall of Famer, with a limited budget might seem farfetched, it actually makes quite a deal of sense when you break it down.
1. He Fills a Need
The Bears have a need at outside linebacker as Aaron Lynch, only 25, likely finds himself outside of the Bears’ price range. Behind Lynch, they have only Isaiah Irving, who has one sack in limited playing time over the last two years, and last year’s sixth-round pick Kylie Fitts, who failed to make an impact in his rookie season. Sure both players could potentially take a step forward in 2019 … But most likely neither player moves the needle much for the Bears in terms of production.
The Bears are in a position where they can’t hope for production. Chicago needs a sure thing.
One way or another the Bears need to bring in another outside linebacker, or two, which isn’t easy given how rare it is to find great pass rushers on the open market.
Luckily for the Bears …
2. He can Still Produce at a High Level
In fact, Suggs’ 12.4 percent pressure rate last season would have been second on the Bears behind only, you guessed it, Mack. In 2017, his 14.7 percent pressure rate was actually better than Mack this season (14.4). His seven sacks were the same as Lynch and Leonard Floyd combined and would have ranked third on the team.
Father time eventually catches up to everyone, even the greats. But Suggs could be on a similar career trajectory to former Bear Julius Peppers.
When Peppers left the Packers, at the same age as Suggs is now, it looked like his career was nearing an end. However, he signed back where his career began with the Carolina Panthers for what looked like a farewell tour. It was anything but.
Instead, the Panthers cut his snap count from 715 to 531, and Peppers looked rejuvenated. His sack number jumped from 7.5 with the Packers to 11 while also increasing his stops behind the line of scrimmage and total tackles.
Suggs was at 789 snaps last season. With Mack and Floyd already locked into starting spots, Suggs can be subbed in to keep both fresh without missing a beat. Getting Suggs closer to 500 snaps will also help maximize what he has left in the tank.
But it’s not just on the field production the Bears would be paying for, they also get …
3. Super Bowl Experience
One of the biggest knocks on the Bears this season was their youth and their inability to close out games. Suggs would bring a veteran presence who knows how to win. In his career he has been to the playoffs nine times and, of course, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012.
And most importantly…
4. He Could Be Cheap
Everything above is all well and good, but in the end, it’s going to come down to price. After all, the Bears need to maximize every dollar they have this offseason.
Suggs made only $4 million last year, and if he wanted to sign a one-year deal at that price, the Bears should be able to make it work. Especially considering that is the same salary Lynch signed before last season.
When Chris Long was in a similar situation signing with the Eagles in 2017, helping them win a Super Bowl, he only got a contract worth $2.25 million per year.
Obviously, it makes a lot of sense for the Bears to sign Suggs to as cheap a contract as possible. But contract negotiations are a two-way street. So what’s in it for Suggs?
5. He Has Familiarity with Chuck Pagano
Chuck Pagano served as the Ravens defensive coordinator and defensive play caller in 2011. That season Suggs had his best season with a career-high 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles on his way to Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Suggs could be looking to re-ignite that relationship. His Defensive Player of the Year days are behind him, but it could lead to a perfect marriage.
After all, at Suggs’ age, he has to be thinking about what most players think about towards the end of their careers.
6. A Chance to Win a Championship
The Ravens made the playoffs last season, but no one actually thought they had a chance at getting to the Super Bowl let alone winning it.
The Bears, on the other hand, had the best defense in football and a top-10 offense. After a year of progression from the offense, the Bears are considered to be a Super Bowl contender.
Adding Suggs to an already impressive front seven is the definition of strengthening a strength. The move would help ensure there is as little of a drop off from the Vic Fangio to Pagano era as possible.
They would still have other needs to fill, specifically at defensive back, but if Suggs is willing to take a one-year deal, it not only leaves them with enough cap space to fill those needs this year but it also does not limit them financially down the road.
Suggs, Mack, and Floyd could all conceivably be on the field at the same time. At the very least it would give Pagano many different personnel groupings to play with.
Suggs’ familiarity with Pagano combined with the Bears Super Bowl window make it a perfect marriage.