LT Jonah Williams Wants Out of Cincinnati, But is He Really a Fit for the Bears?
Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams wants a trade out of town. And for what it is worth, he checks some boxes in terms of being a player the Chicago Bears should want to look at in terms of a potential trade.
First, the scoop age from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport:
The 25-year-old has 42 regular-season starts (and 5 playoff games) under his belt since debuting in 2020. Using Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value metric (which attempts to be single number that is meant to be a catch-all for everything a player contributes), Williams has gotten better every year as a pro. And using Pro Football Focus’ overall grading, Williams is just one year removed from a 74.5 overall grade that put him 32nd among 83 qualifying tackles. It is never a bad thing to grade among the top half of players at your position.
But the thing is that I’m not sure the Bears would be getting that Williams. Last year, Williams’ 61.0 overall grade was 61st among 81 tackles. The pass-blocking was problematic, with his 12 sacks allowed (tied for the most in the league) and a woeful 62.8 pass-blocking grade (59th among 78 tackles). Williams’ run blocking was even worse, with a 51.0 run-block grade that was the ninth worst among players at the position. That’s a big yikes all around.
The idea of acquiring Williams looks good on paper. However, it doesn’t make sense for the Bears to roll the dice on a player who is essentially a one-year rental unless his new team signs him to an extension. When considering the numbers above, I can’t justify trading for or extending Williams. And when I think about the idea of moving Braxton Jones off the position to accommodate Williams, I like the idea of cutting a deal with the Bengals even less. It simply isn’t a fit.
But with that being said, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep our eyes open for offensive line help. After all, this is what the current state of the line projects to look like in Week 1:
- LT Braxton Jones
- LG Nate Davis
- C Cody Whitehair
- RG Teven Jenkins
- RT ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Or maybe it’ll look like this:
- LT Braxton Jones
- LG Cody Whitehair
- C Lucas Patrick
- RG Nate Davis
- RT Teven Jenkins
There are a couple of other iterations I’m playing around with in my head. But that we have major questions for at least two starting spots makes me itchy. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the NFL Draft is in 41 days. Owning the ninth pick has its perks. Among them is the opportunity to take one of the best offensive lineman prospects in this class. Is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski your pick to click? Or does Georgia’s Broderick Jones pique your interest? What about trading back, collecting more picks, and snagging a prospect such as Anton Harrison (Oklahoma), Dawand Jones (Ohio State), or Darnell Wright (Tennessee)? All of those players go off the board at or after the 16th pick in the first round.
My overarching point is that the Bears should be on a continuous search for offensive line help. We saw injuries pile up in recent years. With that, we saw how dire things became when Chicago’s best blockers weren’t available. Some players hitting the market will make more sense than others. In all honesty, there will be some who make no sense at all. But GM Ryan Poles should be thorough in his search to protect Justin Fields. As that should be the team’s top priority moving forward.