With a transfixed focus on surrounding the franchise’s salvation Mitchell Trubisky, it seemed as if pass rush had been shoved to the depths of the laundry list of offseason needs. In all reality, purging a crew that propelled the Bears to seventh in the league in sacks seems ill-informed and shedding all of Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston without any supplement seems risky. The Bears will no doubt be banking on a massive Leonard Floyd leap but missing ten games in the past two seasons due to injury and coming off a serious knee ailment does have cause for worry.
Luckily, sack leader for the Bears Akiem Hicks remains but this doesn’t change the fact they have lost three players in the top six for the team in that category. Hicks will be the anchor but the increasingly imperative edge position still has a ton of holes to be filled.
Not much had been picked up in the draft other than an undersized Joel Iyiegbuniwe and an injury-riddled Kylie Fitts in the later rounds and free agency didn’t see much aid enlisted either. The time has come for Floyd to earn his first round pedigree but staying healthy has to stay at the forefront for him. A touchy knee injury won’t be doing him any favors. However, in a move that went oddly under the radar, the Bears silently picked up a pass rusher who could potentially ease most of our worries for this group.
Though grabbing the troubled Aaron Lynch from the 49ers will be a gamble, especially considering how little the Bears have outside of him, a consonant breakout season with Floyd would solve a decent chunk of defensive problems for the Bears. A fifth-round pick from South Florida in 2014, Lynch immediately began his career as a viable option for the 49ers pass rush. Back to back six sack seasons indicated a rising pass-rushing force in the league.
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But then the injuries crept in. And the suspensions. And the weight issues. A four-game suspension for substance abuse to kick off the 2016 season, his should-be breakout year, had been the catalyst for his eventual fallout with San Francisco, only appearing in fourteen games in his last two seasons with the team. He eventually devolved into a healthy scratch on four separate occasions in his final year in a 49ers jersey, a frustrating year full of heartless injuries and cold benchings.
“I was pretty down and out with what was going on as far as not playing as much,” Lynch explained over a conference call. “Who wouldn’t be? Anybody who wants to play football is not going to be feeling too up. I was frustrated, but that’s why I’ve moved on and found a great spot with the Bears. And I’m happy to start it off right.”
Current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had been at the forefront of his smashing rookie campaign and a reunion with the creative coordinator could be exactly what Lynch needs to jumpstart his career once again. Even pulling off a six-sack season on par with his rookie year would be a huge boost to the defense, with no other player outside of Hicks eclipsing the five-sack mark for the entire season yet still propelling the Bears to the top ten in the league for sacks.
On only one year prove-it deal with potentially his career hanging in the balance, the incentive to perform will hopefully drive him to finally forcing the pieces into place and blossoming into a respectable pass rushing option. With so little in such a critical position in the modern league, the Bears need him to deliver and he needs him to deliver.
In Aaron Lynch we trust.