I’m always wondering about how the Chicago Bears can improve their offensive line. Internal options like Alex Leatherwood intrigue me for the short term. And between the upcoming NFL Draft and a free agency, I can’t help but to look at the future for help in protecting quarterback Justin Fields. But with that in mind, I should know better than to dismiss more immediate alternatives in terms of help.
Sam Mustipher has been riding the struggle bus for a hearty chunk of this year. And while Mustipher has been battling since re-gaining his starting center job, it is clear that the center position is one place the Bears can upgrade from an incumbent and not think twice about it. And when I saw this tweet from NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero sharing that long-time NFL center Matt Paradis has been medically cleared to return to football after ACL surgery, my interest was piqued — especially when I saw the words “top center available” strung together:
Paradis getting medical clearance is an interesting piece of news. And it makes for a fun discussion in terms of the many ways GM Ryan Poles can rebuild his offensive line. Because while we’ve spent time exploring more traditional routes (such as free agency when the new league year begins or the 2023 NFL Draft), we shouldn’t overlook an in-season free agent signing of a player who is on the mend. Paradis, 33, might be more of a short-term fit. But he has 98 starts of experience and could be worth bringing into the mix as someone who serves as a bridge until a more desirable long-term option presents itself.
On the one hand, Paradis probably wants to join a contender at this stage of the year. But on the other hand, the Bears could offer a clear path to a starting role. And that could cut in multiple ways. For instance, Paradis could negotiate a pro-rated deal, use his time down the stretch to put some good tape out there for other teams, then re-enter the free-agent market this coming spring. Or Paradis and a team could come together on a multi-year pact that provides stability, a runway to start, and then a return to the market after next season. There are options. And with Pelissero noting that teams (plural!) are already expressing interest, Paradis will get whatever he desires.