NFL free agency will be here before we know it, and the Chicago Bears have plenty of players set to hit the market. From key starters to valuable reserves, general manager Ryan Poles will have important decisions to make about who to bring back.
Here at Bears Wire, we’re going through each individual player and breaking down their 2022 performance and whether or not they fit in the Bears’ long-term plans.
Next up is linebacker Nicholas Morrow, who served as a key contributor on defense, playing both MIKE and WILL linebacker. But his future in Chicago remains a big question mark.
The Bears signed Morrow to a one-year, prove-it deal, where he served as a key contributor on defense. Morrow led the Bears in tackles, and he set career highs in total tackles (116), solo tackles (83) and tackles for loss (11). He was an underrated contributor on defense, especially against the run, and wasn’t helped by a weak defensive line in front of him.
Morrow was one of Poles’ best free agent additions in an otherwise underwhelming class. While Morrow started the season at MIKE linebacker, he shifted to WILL linebacker after Roquan Smith was traded to the Ravens. His versatility and availability — he played 99.82% of defensive snaps — were definitely positives. With that said, he didn’t have a significant impact that would make him a lock for a contract extension.
Positional need: High
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Considering undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn is the only starter on the roster, it’s safe to say linebacker is a big position of need this offseason. Although, when compared to others like defensive and offensive line, it’s not as concerning. Especially when you factor in the fact that Chicago could bring back Morrow on a one- or two-year deal — at an affordable rate — to fill that hole until they find his replacement.
Sanborn certainly made a case to be the starter at MIKE linebacker in 2023, which means Chicago needs to lock down a WILL linebacker to fill an important position in Matt Eberflus’ defense. Could Morrow factor into the equation?
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It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bears bring Morrow back in 2023. Whether that’s in a starting role or as depth remains to be seen, especially considering his versatility when it comes to playing both MIKE and WILL linebacker in this defense. He also has great familiarity with this defense and would provide veteran leadership with a young roster.
Obviously, it all depends on how Poles chooses to address the need at linebacker. Does he go out and sign a big-name veteran, draft a young player to develop or both? Chicago definitely has the resources to do both. But having Morrow, who you could have at an affordable price, makes it easier to address bigger needs on the roster. Morrow definitely made a case for sticking around in some capacity, if the Bears want him.
2023 free agency profiles
We’re highlighting the Bears’ most notable free agents set to hit the open market in March: