I get a kick out of seeing Bears Chief Recruiting Officer Cordarrelle Patterson up to his old tricks.
Days after reviewing Quinton Spain’s game tape, Patterson checked in with free agent offensive lineman Larry Warford:
@wardaddy_75 what’s good big fella?
— cordarrelle patterson (@ceeflashpee84) October 23, 2020
If you’re familiar with Warford, it’s probably because of the Bears’ brief pursuit last offseason. The Saints released Warford in May, and the Bears were quickly rumored to have interest in the three-time Pro Bowler. However, that interest seemed to fizzle out. Warford’s asking price was viewed as a potential hangup, although a future pursuit wasn’t ruled out had costs come down. But when Warford opted out of playing in August due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, I figured that finally shut the door on coaxing Warford onto this roster.
It turns out that might not have been the case. Because as reporting from ESPN’s Dan Graziano points out, Warford’s opt-out is reversible. That’s because he was not on a team when he made his decision.
So, unlike Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman, Warford could conceivably change his mind and sign with a team that shows interest. And while I’m unsure of the Bears’ interest, Patterson seems to be intent on kicking the tires on a free agent who could conceivably help Chicago’s football team.
None of this is to say pencil in Warford as the Bears’ starting left guard, because there are some hangups. For instance, Warford is a life-long right guard. This isn’t to say he couldn’t be a productive player on the other side of Cody Whitehair, but the footwork and hand placement are different enough to point out. Even though I have never played guard, I can understand the difficulties in learning something new at this stage. And then there’s the money. OverTheCap.com estimates the Bears have $8,439,390 in available salary cap space. Chicago could conceivably slide a prorated Warford deal onto their books, but remember they have future considerations to deal with on the cap side. Just sayin’.
In the end, Warford is still intriguing because he is an upgrade. I spent a chunk of the offseason producing content nudging the Bears to seek help for the offensive line, doing so knowing it needed assistance — even if the returning members elevated their play from awful to passable. Through the early going of this season, the line has graded out as average (at best) based on analytical studies. But when it comes to a team in the thick of the playoff race, “average” isn’t good enough.
With that in mind, the Bears should be looking to upgrade by any means necessary. And if that includes coaxing a free agent into opting back into playing in 2020, then so be it.