Bears Season in Review: Danny Trevathan

Bears Season in Review: Danny Trevathan

Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan has been one of the defense's most reliable and productive starters since joining the team in 2016 despite an injury-riddled four-year tenure.

Trevathan's managed just one 16-game season with the Bears, as injuries have limited him to 12 or fewer starts in the other three. In 2019, Trevathan suited up for nine games and finished with 70 tackles and one sack.

His season came to an early end because of a gruesome left elbow injury in Week 10 against the Lions and has created doubt about his future in Chicago. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and with fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also on an expiring contract, GM Ryan Pace will be forced to choose between the proven yet injured starter and the young career backup poised to breakout.

It will be a difficult decision for Pace to make considering Trevathan, when healthy, remains one of the NFL's most talented and effective inside linebackers. He ranked sixth on the Bears this season with a 70.9 run-defense grade from Pro Football Focus and while Kwiatkoski was arguably Chicago's best linebacker at the end of the season, Trevathan is more of a proven commodity for a defense that's championship-caliber when he's in the lineup.

But as the old football saying goes, the best ability is availability. And unfortunately for Trevathan, who was Pace's first big free-agent signing as Chicago's general manager, he just hasn't been available enough to feel good about his outlook moving forward.

We may have seen the last of Trevathan in a Bears uniform. His time in Chicago will be viewed mostly as 'what could've been,' but one thing is for sure: The Bears were a better team over the last four seasons with Trevathan than without.

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

The NFL Combine isn't just about timing draft prospects in the 40-yard dash or measuring how high they can jump. It's also when free-agency plans begin crystallizing with general managers meeting with agents of prospective veteran targets.

And that's why the rumors that come from Indianapolis often have more value than any other time In the offseason. 

In the case of the Bears, those rumors are beginning to swirl around the quarterback position.

It's important to pay close attention to the words Fowler used: The Bears are in the market for a veteran who can push Mitch Trubisky, not necessarily replace him. 

Ryan Pace has always preached competition as the key to bringing the best out of every player. There's been no competition for Trubisky since he unseated Mike Glennon for the starting job as a rookie in 2017, and while that's normally the case for a quarterback drafted as highly as Trubisky, he's been given more than enough time to hold the presumed-starter role.

So who will the Bears target? Players like Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum and Andy Dalton are the first who come to mind. They won't cost nearly as much to acquire as players like Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater or Jameis Winston and all profile as quality backups who can emerge as capable starters, much like Ryan Tannehill was for the Titans in 2019.

Fowler's tweet also suggests the Bears may not be in the market for a quarterback early in the 2020 NFL draft. If, in fact, they add a veteran passer in free agency, it would be a waste of a second-round pick to select a rookie who'd, at best, be QB3 in 2020. They'd be better off focusing on a developmental prospect toward the end of Day 3.

One thing seems pretty obvious at this point: The Bears will have a quarterback competition in training camp, even if it isn't touted as one publicly. Trubisky won't be handed the starting job in 2020; he'll have to earn it, and that may be what brings the very best out of him.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.