Over the weekend, 670 The Score's Chris Emma reported a juicy little bit of info about Nick Kwiatkoski. With Kwiatkoski and fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan both set to hit the market when the NFL's free agency window opens on March 18th, it's on GM Ryan Pace to decide, realistically, which one the team wants to bring back.
According to Emma, the team may focus on keeping Kwiatkoski:
The Bears are planning to prioritize Nick Kwiatkoski as a free agent. But there are multiple factors in play, including Danny Trevathan's market value and an expected addition at quarterback.— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) March 1, 2020
The Bears' offseason plan is taking shape: https://t.co/5xayCwlo0h
The Bears are prioritizing Kwiatkoski as a top free-agent target, sources said. But they must balance the cost of a contract for him against their other needs -- namely quarterback, where Chicago is set on bringing in competition for Mitchell Trubisky, sources indicated.
With Kwiatkoski and a veteran quarterback among the Bears' top priorities on the open market, general manager Ryan Pace and his brass may need to be creative with the cap. And if the bidding for Kwiatkoski goes beyond the Bears' comfort, they could side with the lower-cost alternative in linebacker Danny Trevathan.
Emma also notes that the team still values Trevathan's role on the defense and has a real interest in bringing him back. With that said, it's certainly no surprise to learn that the team would prefer to sign Kwiatkoski, who – besides being four years younger – earned a raise with his play in place of an injured Trevathan this season. In the final year of his rookie contract (4 years, $2.9 million), Kwiatkoski started eight games and finished with 76 tackles, three sacks and an interception.
If the Bears feel like they can't compete in Kwiatkoski's market, bringing back Trevathan would be an obvious next approach. The durability concerns are valid – Trevathan turns 30 in March and has only played 15 or more games four times in an eight year career. When he's on the field, though, he can still play; Pro Football Focus gave Trevathan 70+ grades in Run Defense, Tackling and Pass Rushing last year. And, as Emma said, there's plenty of familiarity and admiration.