Earlier in the offseason, extending David Montgomery was seen as a “strong possibility,” and that had us exploring what level makes sense for the Bears.
But those rumors really haven’t kicked back up. Montgomery was playing coy when discussing a potential extension in April. And while you’d think it would be top of mind this time of year, Montgomery is maintaining tunnel vision.
Well, ESPN’s Dan Graziano has an update from Bears camp via an insider story from his trip to Bears camp.
“My sense is the Bears want to see Montgomery in the new offense before committing to him,” Graziano writes. “and hey, maybe he clicks.”
Montgomery, 25, is entering the final year of his rookie contract from 2019. He has just one 1,000-yard rushing season under his belt, which came in 2020. However, he was on pace for a second before an injury took him out of action for a few games. And I feel it is safe to wonder if Montgomery’s numbers would be different had he been running for a coach willing to properly deploy them in the offense.
Maybe we’ll find out if Montgomery has another level to his game in a season where there is an expectation that the ground game will be more prevalent in Luke Getsy’s scheme. Perhaps if he shows it, the Bears will be willing to hand out an extension to keep him around. That seems to be the gist of Graziano’s reporting. So let’s keep an eye on that as we move along.
But what if Montgomery doesn’t? That feels like a fair question to ask.
For what it’s worth, the Bears have all sorts of running back depth to start the year. Khalil Herbert made a case to be the team’s future starter when he was Montgomery’s fill-in during his IR stint. Darrynton Evans had pre-draft buzz in 2020 and was brought in as a waiver claim early in the offseason. Maybe there is some post-hype sleeper potential as a reserve. Trestan Ebner is a rookie who probably takes on more pass-catching, gadget package, and special teams duties. But there could be more to his game as he grows as a pro.
All that to say that the Bears could conceivably trade Montgomery at the NFL’s trade deadline. This isn’t something I’m necessarily openly rooting for right now. Montgomery has played well enough on his rookie deal to earn a second contract. And I feel that rewarding home-grown talent has its perks regarding player retention and the message it sends to the locker room. But if the sides aren’t close to a deal, then GM Ryan Poles should consider alternatives. And if things line up for the team to add some late-round draft capital by shipping their top back to a contender needing a backfield boost, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
But we’ve got a long time to go before we get to that bridge, let alone cross it. However, we should still keep in mind that bridge exists.