Here are the Bears players headed towards free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Super Bowl is in the rear-view mirror, and every team is turning their focus to the 2022 season. The next roster-shaping event on the horizon is free agency in mid-March.
This will prove to be a crucial moment for new general manager Ryan Poles. The Bears have 35 players headed towards free agency.
They also have around $29 million in cap space to bolster their roster, which will be vital since the Bears only have five draft picks.
But Poles and his new staff will have to make some big decisions on players like Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols.
Here is a list of future unrestricted free agents by phase of the game. Unrestricted free agents are free to negotiate and sign with any team.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Quarterbacks: Andy Dalton
Running backs: Damien Williams
Wide receivers: Allen Robinson II, Damiere Byrd, Jakeem Grant Sr., Marquise Goodwin
Tight ends: Jimmy Graham, Jesse James
Offensive line: Jason Peters, James Daniels, Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson
Defensive line: Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, Margus Hunt, Bruce Irvin, Cassius Marsh
Linebackers: Christian Jones, Alec Ogletree, Joel Iyiegbuniwe,
Cornerbacks: Artie Burns
Safeties: Tashaun Gipson Sr., Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Marqui Christian
Punter: Pat O’Donnell
Long snapper: Patrick Scales
Restricted Free Agents
Unlike unrestricted free agents, the Bears have the right of first refusal if they tender them a qualifying offer.
The deadline to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents is March 16 at 3 p.m. CT.
Alex Bars, OL
Ryan Nall, RB
J.P. Holtz, TE
Teez Tabor, DB
Xavier Crawford, CB
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Exclusive rights free agents are subject to even more team control. By definition, an exclusive rights free agent is a player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract.
If the Bears offer any of these players a one-year contract at the league minimum, based on credited seasons, the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
Lachavious Simmons, OL
Sam Mustipher, C
Jesper Horsted, TE