The Chicago Bears’ offensive line needs cannot be understated.
Because even after signing Gage Cervenka and bringing Elijah Wilkinson off the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Bears’ offensive line is still a list of walking wounded. Two starting tackles (Germain Ifedi, Teven Jenkins) remain out. Starting left guard (James Daniels) has been missing in action, too. Larry Borom and Lachavious Simmons have sat while dealing with concussions. And now, Alex Bars — who has experience inside and out — left Thursday’s practice with a knee injury. It’s all such a mess. And with the season opener 30 days away, it’s one the Bears should be desperately looking to clean up.
So, here’s the bad news: Chicago hasn’t done much of anything to plug some of the holes along its line. But the good news is that it isn’t (entirely) for a lack of trying. ESPN’s Field Yates tweets the Bears put in a waiver claim on guard David Moore, an undrafted free agent who was with the Panthers before being let go onto the waiver wire. Moore, who was also targeted by the Browns and Raiders, ultimately landed with the Jets because New York’s placement on the wire priority list. In other words, only the Jaguars could’ve prevented the Jets from scooping up Moore. So, while it stings to miss out on someone who could’ve been a fit, the odds were against the Bears scooping Moore up and adding him to the roster.
But just because the Bears were failures in their pursuit of Moore doesn’t mean they should stop trying. And in another sliver of good news, Chicago still has options if it wants to address its like before the season.
For instance, PFF’s Brad Spielberger mentions Andre Dillard as a possible Bears trade target.
Dillard, a first-round pick in 2019, did not play in 2020, but did pick up 16 games (4 starts) worth of experience as a rookie. The 25-year-old appears to be on the outside looking in at a starting role. And while I’m sure teams don’t love giving up offensive line depth, Spielberger suggests the Bears and Eagles could find middle ground on a player who could start in Chicago (even if he won’t in Philly). Spielberger envisions the Bears getting Dillard in exchange for the fifth-round pick that came in the Anthony Miller trade, as well as a 2023 sixth-rounder. And if that’s all it takes to land a starting-caliber lineman with as much as four years of team control on a rookie deal, then sign the Bears up.
Another situation the Bears should be watching is in Seattle with Duane Brown.
The Seahawks left tackle is having a hold-in at camp, for which he has reported, but won’t practice while his contract situation remains unsolved. Brown, 36, is a four-time Pro Bowler who was a fist-team All-Pro in 2012. That feels like a long time ago, to be sure. However, Brown has a lengthy history of being a solid NFL tackle as he enters his mid-to-late 30s. Brown recently landed on B/R’s list of NFL players most likely to be dealt before the start of the 2021 season. And while a middle-round pick doesn’t seem like much of a return for Seattle, it is better than nothing. Especially if an extension isn’t in the works out west. For the Bears, trading for Brown could represent a bridge situation that allows Teven Jenkins (when healthy) to develop as a right tackle.
Just as I mentioned above, getting a starting caliber left tackle while not paying a premium in draft capital seems ideal. For what it’s worth, maybe Bears GM Ryan Pace’s conversations with his Seattle counterpart John Schneider could be helpful if Chicago chooses to go down this path.
Should the Bears choose to kick the tires on free agents, Russell Okung and Rick Wagner are among the available names who could pique their interest. But there’s a reason these players are still out there. Right?
It’s impossible to look at the Bears offensive line issues without realizing how much they fumbled the bag this offseason. Not signing Morgan Moses after bringing him in for a visit looks even worse now. Cutting Bobby Massie after consecutive injury shortened seasons was a sensible move that created cap space. But parting ways with Charles Leno Jr. is as big of a misstep now as it was when it first went down. The Bears cut a steady, reliable player for some cap savings at a position group that will have three players starting at different positions than the ones they began at in 2020. The rest of the group is full of question marks, even if the depth (once everyone is healthy) looks better now than it did a year ago.
In the end, the best news is that there is still time to right the wrongs of this offseason. But the bad news is that time is ticking and that options could be thinning out if the Bears continue to sit and watch.