Sam Mustipher is a Free Agent After Bears Decline Extending a RFA Qualifying Offer
The Chicago Bears will be looking for a new starting center in 2023.
Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) reports the Bears did not tender a qualifying offer to Sam Mustipher, who was a restricted free agent. And with that, Mustipher becomes a full-on free agent. Happy trails.
Mustipher, 26, has been the team’s primary starter at center since 2020. And while he has held down the fort during a time of great uncertainty, Mustipher’s time in Chicago appears to be up. It’s not like we didn’t see the writing on the wall, but this makes it official. To his credit, Mustipher went from UDFA signing and practice squad fodder to starting center for a heritage NFL franchise. That isn’t a common thing that happens. So on the one hand, I’ve got nothing but respect for Mustipher. But on the other hand, it is evident the Bears are OK moving on from Mustipher in the middle. as a restricted free agent.
As for the Bears’ options, there are plenty. So if you like choose-your-own-adventure games, following this just might be for you. Because the Bears could move Cody Whitehair back to the middle. Whitehair has ample experience at center, but spent last year at guard. Flanking Whitehair with Teven Jenkins and Nate Davis feels like a marginal upgrade from what the team finished the 2022 season rolling out along the interior. The team could also find a spot for Lucas Patrick, who was supposed to be Chicago’s center before injuries in the preseason and during the regular season threw those plans for a loop. And let’s not forget the NFL Draft, which has waves of interior offensive line talent available. But before we get to the draft, the Bears could kick the tires on some depth options.
Whatever the Bears choose to do, the end is here for Mustipher at center. Clean slates and fresh faces are always welcome around these parts.
As for the entire list of Bears free agents, Fishbain has the rest:
I imagine there could be some players who make their way back to Chicago. For instance, DeAndre Houston-Carson’s special teams prowess and versatility in the secondary could be useful. Mike Pennel or Angelo Blackson might make for some solid depth along the defensive line. Dakota Dozier could be an offensive lineman who is worth another look. However, there are a number of free agents leaving other teams who might be good options for the Bears, too. We’ll keep our eyes open for any and all possible movement.