Bears have 5 defenders 30 or older with much to prove in 2021
The Bears have the oldest roster in the NFL, and the heart of their defense is right in the thick of the fight against time.
The Bears have the oldest roster in the NFL, and nearly half of their starting defense is 30 or older. It’s clear the window is closing for that group to be elite, and there have already been signs that it’s been slipping the last two seasons.
As the Bears try to stave off that decline, here are the five defenders fighting time on the wrong side of 30:
DT Akiem Hicks, 31
Hicks wants a contract extension as he prepares to play the final season of a four-year, $48 million deal. The Bears are going to be hesitant to spend big money on an 11th-year defensive tackle, but Hicks looks like he’s worth it. He’s still a top-notch pass rusher and run stopper, and other than time he missed for a freak dislocated elbow, he missed just two in the last six seasons.
OLB Khalil Mack, 30
Mack remains excellent, but he needs help. If he’s going to continue to face double and triple teams on every play because the Bears have no significant threat opposite him, his production will keep sliding. He had 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons after piling up 49 over the previous four.
OLB Robert Quinn, 31
Quinn had a resurgence with 11.5 sacks for the Cowboys in 2019, then got a five-year, $70 million deal from the Bears and gave them two sacks in 548 snaps. He has more to prove than any other defender.
ILB Danny Trevathan, 31
Trevathan is on injured reserve to start the season and will likely be replaced by veteran Alec Ogletree, who turns 30 this month. Trevathan is out because of a knee injury that general manager Ryan Pace said bothered him throughout the preseason, and that’s especially concerning considering he struggled early last season.
S Tashaun Gipson, 31
The Jaguars and Texans cut Gipson before his contract expired, but he has been a nice — and very affordable — find for the Bears. He had two interceptions and seven pass breakups while playing 98% of the snaps.