The Browns and Packers Just Threw a Bunch of Cold Water on the Bears' Offseason Spending Plans

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The Browns and Packers Just Threw a Bunch of Cold Water on the Bears’ Offseason Spending Plans

Chicago Bears

OK, I can live with Green Bay throwing a wrench in the Bears’ rebuilding plans. This is the type of stuff I’m used to based on years of obsessively following the Bears.

Namely, Elgton Jenkins’ extension from Green Bay didn’t bug me as much as it could have. The Packers generally don’t let good, young talent hit free agency. And retaining a Pro Bowl offensive lineman with starting experience at several positions was going to be a top priority.

But the Cleveland Browns giving offensive tackle Jack Conklin a sizable extension threw me for a loop:

Like Jenkins, Conklin was set to hit free agency this offseason. But unlike Jenkins, I was feeling as if it was realistic that Conklin would make it to the open market. Conklin is just one year removed from tearing a patella tendon and restructuring his deal to take a paycut. His reward on the step back and bet on himself is a nice four-year extension. One that includes $31 million in guarantees and could be worth as much as $60 million. Good on him. But bad news for the Bears and GM Ryan Poles, who have more than $100 million in available cap space. And the vibes were hinting that a chunk of that could go to an offensive line makeover. Losing two of the top free-agents-to-be throws those plans for a loop.

Last week’s game against the Eagles left me with one major takeaway. And it’s this: Everyone’s future along the offensive line should be looked at with a critical eye. No one should feel safe. Not one of the five regular starters. And no one from the bench who has been a fill-in as a starter. Anything and everything should be in consdieration when it comes to switching up the offensive line last year. A top 10 ranking by one analytically inclined group be damned, this did not look like a top 10 group last week. And, frankly, hasn’t looked like one all year. Hence, the desire from Bears fans to throw money at the problem. Hey, we’ve had worse ideas.

To be clear, there are still free agents to be had when the market opens up in March. But until then, we should brace ourselves for the wave of extensions that could come between now and when free agency festivities kick off. We’ll still keep an eye on players who are on the cusp of free agency. But the Jenkins and Conklin extensions remind us that not everyone eligible for free agency this offseason will make it. That means we’ll need to dive into contingency plans. Hopefully, the Bears are way ahead of us in that regard.

Author: Luis Medina

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