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Who will Bears target for defense with DE Malik Jackson gone?

Malik Jackson (97) recovers a fumble for a touchdown during the first half of Super Bowl 50. (AP)

The Bears had interest in Denver Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, a key piece of their Super Bowl 50-winning team and a big-name free agent this year.

But the price is everything.

According to multiple outlets, Jackson will be signing a six-year deal, $90 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars when free agency officially opens on Wednesday. According to NFL Network, Jackson is getting $42 million guaranteed.

Jackson’s connection with the Bears was obvious. He spent three seasons in Denver with coach John Fox. Jackson said during Super Bowl week that it was “cool” to have coaches who are familiar with him, since it would help his cause in free agency.

The Oakland Raiders also were reportedly after Jackson, who recovered a fumble in Super Bowl 50 for a touchdown. Jack Del Rio, the Broncos’ former defensive coordinator, is the Raiders’ coach.

Jackson’s deal from the Jaguars was too much for the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace promised to be “mindful and strategic” and “smart and calculated” in free agency, when speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine.

So where do the Bears go from here to improve their defense?

Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan and New England Patriots defensive end Akiem Hicks are high on the Bears’ list of targets.

Similar to Jackson, Trevathan and Hicks have direct connections to the Bears. Trevathan played for Fox in Denver. Bears director of pro scouting Champ Kelly also was a Broncos’ executive when Trevathan was selected in the sixth round in 2012.

Hicks was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2012 when Pace was in their front office.

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