Whenever the Bears get around to building their offensive line, they’ll do so without going back to a familiar face.
James Daniels, a second-round pick by Chicago in 2018, is signing a healthy free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
A three-year pact worth $26.5 million comes out to the tune of $8.8 million per year. Daniels getting paid handsomely is a win for multiple parties and on a variety of fronts. Firstly, it is a win for Daniels to get a hefty chunk of change on a multi-year deal. Not just because of the money up front, but also it sets him up to hit free agency after his age 27 season. Few players get an opportunity to cash in on one big free agent contract, let alone two. And Daniels will soon be in a place where he can do just that with this deal. And for the Steelers, they get a versatile offensive lineman who can play any number of interior line positions. As an added bonus, he has familiarity with Mitchell Trubisky — who just signed on to be the Steelers QB1. It is always nice to have a friend when you move somewhere new.
Selfishly, I can’t help but think about the Bears as winners here. Yeah, losing Daniels will sting a bit. Admittedly, I don’t love letting home-grown players leave after their rookie deals when they are still just 24 years old. And at a deal that looks like fair market value, part of me wonders if the Bears should’ve been ponying up a competitive deal to keep Daniels around. HOWEVER, the combination of Chicago letting Daniels walk and him getting a chunky pay check means the Bears are positioning themselves to do well in the compensatory draft pick formula.
Of course, the Larry Ogunjobi signing will negate one pick. But if the Daniels signing is followed by notable deals for Allen Robinson II, Akiem Hicks, and Jakeem Grant Sr., then the Bears could be cooking’ with fire. But only if they don’t make a ton of notable free agent signings that count against the formula that could net them a future pick.
All in all, this is something to keep an eye on as it all develops in front of us.
UPDATE — Well, this seems like a thrifty and affordable deal for the Steelers:
James Daniels’ #Steelers Contract
– 3 years, $26.5M
– $8.75M fully guaranteed
– 1 year $10M practical
1 year showcase with starter value through 2024 if he sticks.
Full Breakdown: https://t.co/dsaOpLziNQ
— Spotrac (@spotrac) March 15, 2022