As we enter the second full month of the “offseason” in the NFL, the Chicago Bears still have a number of holes to fill. The most notable of which are on the offensive side of the ball, specifically along the offensive line.
Sure, adding Lucas Patrick to the mix at center is a nice touch. And you can count on the returns of Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, too. But we’re still looking at a line that won’t return its Week 1 starters at left tackle, right guard, and right tackle. That’s serious. And while the Bears could/should still address the line in the draft, they don’t have a first-round pick to play with this season.
Of course, Chicago could still find offensive line help in free agency. And it’s something GM Ryan Poles seems to have an interest in exploring.
“I would like to,” Poles said when asked about the possibility of the Bears signing a veteran left tackle in case the front office feels Teven Jenkins isn’t the guy for that spot (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “but the one thing to know, and I think that’s where mistakes are made — I can’t force something.”
The measured approach might not be popular, but it could be effective in this instance. Perhaps attacking this position with patience will keep this front office from jumping into similar mistakes made by their predecessors. Such as signing Germain Ifedi to play right guard before moving him to right tackle because of issues elsewhere on the line. Or, to go back even further down memory lane, signing an over-the-hill Orlando Pace to play left tackle. In short, is a time to undergo good process in search of good results. Especially when it comes to protecting Justin Fields’ blindside.
Let’s also remember how it was the Pace-Nagy-Castillo trio that were pegging Jenkins as a left tackle. It is possible that the Poles-Eberflus-Getsy-Morgan foursome envisions Jenkins at a different position. Without diving down that rabbit hole, let’s just remember that having options is generally good. Having in-house choices, free agent alternatives, and draft-eligible prospect fits puts the Bears in a great spot. I’m unsure how they can leverage this situation. But getting to this place at all is quite the departure from the previous regime.
In the end, part of me wonders if the Bears are better off playing the waiting game. Well, at least with this position group more so than any other. Teams evidently aren’t banging down the door to bring in possible veteran fits such as Duane Brown and Eric Fisher. Otherwise, they’d have signed with a team by now. It is possible the Bears could wait out the tackle market until after the NFL Draft. Once the draft closes up shop, the Monday that immediately follows begins the period in which free agent signings don’t count into the compensatory pick formula.