The Bears Are Keeping Exclusive Rights Free Agents Sam Mustipher, Jesper Horsted, and Lachavious Simmons

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The Bears Are Keeping Exclusive Rights Free Agents Sam Mustipher, Jesper Horsted, and Lachavious Simmons

Chicago Bears

On what was a busy day around the NFL, the Bears weren’t totally quiet.

No, they didn’t make a splash move. But as we touched on in the Bullets, they retained a trio of Exclusive Rights Free Agents. Center Sam Mustipher and fellow offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons are back with the Bears, as is tight end Jesper Horsted. As a reminder, players who fall under the ERFA umbrella can negotiate only with their current team. Meaning Chicago was the only place they could’ve been chopping it up with in this offseason. And while the Bears didn’t have to bring them back, I’m glad they did. Mostly because they provide a glance at what could be coming down the pipeline.

Sam Mustipher and the Battle in the Trenches

Changes are coming to the offensive line, to be sure. And Mustipher’s job might be one that could change hands. But if the Bears didn’t have an interest in seeing what Mustipher could do with a new regime, then they probably would’ve let him go. Instead, Mustipher is in a position where he can win a job with a strong offseason, good showing in training camp, and having it translate to the preseason. GM Ryan Poles made mention that he wants to see a lighter and leaner line. With that in mind, I can’t imagine Mustipher stuffing his face with Lou Malnati’s pizzas this offseason as he did last year. And maybe getting back to a lighter playing weight will allow him to play more effectively in 2022.

Mustipher has 24 pro starts under his belt. And that isn’t an inconsequential number. Quality depth with starting experience is hard to find. But PFF  ranked Mustipher 36th among the 39 centers qualifying for grading last season. Not good. The Bears could look to upgrade (Brian Allen, anyone?) at the position, but Mustipher could stick around as depth depending on how the team goes about adding to the line this offseason. Keep in mind that Poles doesn’t seem too fond of last year’s line play.

Can Jesper Horsted Be a Robert Tonyan Type?

We recently found ourselves exploring the potential of the Bears taking a flier on a one-year “prove it” deal for a pass-catcher. But rather than target a traditional wide receiver, we thought of Robert Tonyan as an under-the-radar target.

Tonyan checks some boxes. He has a big body with a knack for catching passes in traffic. Find something quarterbacks love as much as tight ends or receivers who come away with more than their fair share of 50-50 balls. And with Tonyan coming off an injury-shortened 2021 season, the cost of doing business in the free agent market could make him a tremendous value.

But what if the Bears already have that type of player on their roster.

And what if it is Horsted?

Horsted is a receiver by trade from his time as a standout at Princeton. He has put in the work to grow into a tight end’s body, but hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to strut his stuff on offense. Horsted has been in on a grand total of 121 offensive snaps since debuting in 2019, but is just 25 years old. Perhaps new Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy sees something in Horsted that is worth exploring. Better yet, maybe Getsy has a plan on how to use the 6-4, 241-pound tight end. For what ever it is worth, there is some quality tape on Horsted out there:

P.S. I hear the Colts are in the market for a new QB. Just sayin’…

Some Love For Lachavious Simmons

Despite the regime change, Simmons remains an intriguing project lineman. The rising third-year player was a seventh-round pick in 2020 out of Tennessee State, so this front office isn’t necessarily tied to him. And yet, they’re keeping him around (at least, for the time being). That Simmons is sticking (for now) suggests there is something the front office likes about him. Maybe it is his size at 6-5 and 319 pounds. It could be potential positional versatility. Simmons was a starter at right tackle in an emergency situation last year and has spent some time at guard. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to seeing if a new offensive coaching staff, scheme, and position coach could aid the Bears in building some home-grown depth as the rest of the roster gets a makeover.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.