NFL Chicago Bears

5 Chicago Bears Who Mean The Most To The Team’s Future

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Chicago Bears Who Mean The Most To The Team's Future

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Chicago Bears finished with an 8-8 record for the second time in the last three seasons, and also missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Under first-year head coach Marc Trestman, Chicago had a Top-3 scoring offense in the league, however, the defense could not hold up their end of the bargain. Unprecedentedly, the defense ranked last in rushing yards allowed. In a city like Chicago, that must change sooner rather than later.

In the upcoming draft, the Bears will have the 14th overall pick and defense will almost certainly be the target area on draft day. Chicago could use help in all three levels on the defensive side. In a franchise role-reversal, a team that relied heavily on defense and special teams to carry a suppar offense can now score points, but is having a hard time stopping attacks. Now, with multiple Pro-Bowl players on the offensive side, the defense needs to once again develop that stout reputation.

Through the help of the draft and free agency, the Bears will be in a position to reload the depth chart and make a run at the playoffs. Current free agents include Henry Melton, Corey Wootton, Major Wright and Charles Tillman. If they decide to not bring back one or all of them, there are plenty of other impact players out on the market.

Chicago finds themselves in a difficult division with little room for error. The upcoming draft will be a very important one for the franchise, as their window of opportunity is there for the taking. The Bears have core players on offense under control for the next few seasons, and just may be a few pieces away from a Super Bowl run.

The Bears have their man at head coach and they have picked their poison with a franchise quarterback. It was one fateful pass that took them from winning a division championship a season ago to out of the playoffs. How the Bears respond will play a key part in their future as a franchise.

Here are five players that will play major roles in that future.

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Their Next Draft Pick

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

When was the last time the Bears' offense carried the Bears' defense?

The 2013 season was a struggle to put it kindly for the Monsters of the Midway. If the Bears hope to make a Super Bowl run in the near future, they need to quickly improve on defense. A huge upgrade in the draft would be the big defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan from Florida State. He would help Chicago defend the run and get the Bears' defense back to normal.

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4. Brandon Marshall

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

In his two seasons in Chicago, Brandon Marshall has yet to miss a start and has added another dimensions to the Bears' forward passing attack. He only has one year left on his current deal, but after signing the quarterback of the future, the Bears now need to keep the dynamic duo intact for the next several seasons. A Bears' receiver averaging 100 catches and double-digit touchdowns is a welcomed sight.

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3. Jay Cutler

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The most controversial player in Chicago is Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Whether fans like it or not, Cutler re-signed with Chicago for a seven-year deal and is the franchise quarterback under head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will certainly keep things interesting on and off the field, and any Super Bowl hopes for the Bears rest on his right arm.

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2. Alshon Jeffery

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The human-highlight reel Alshon Jeffery had a break-out Pro Bowl year this season. Opposite Brandon Marshall, Jeffery pulled in 89 catches, more than 1,400 yards, and seven touchdowns. He and Marshall are currently the best wide-receiver duo in the league; if the quarterback can get these two the ball, the future will be bright in Chicago.

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1. Matt Forte

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For as good as the passing attack is developing in Chicago, the Bears will always be a running team. Matt Forte is one of the top five all-purpose backs in the league currently. Forte is under contract for a few more seasons, and in his first year under the Trestman system, he gained more than 1,900 all-purpose yards with 12 touchdowns.

The Bears suddenly have an offense that can put points on the board, and that bodes well for the future.