The Bears Are *STILL* Looking to Add to Their Offensive Line Through Free Agency
After a big splash of signings at the outset of free agency, things have slowed to a trickle. Not just with the Chicago Bears, but around the NFL. But fear not, friend. More signings are on the horizon. And even at positions deemed to be a need in Chicago.
The Athletic’s Adam Jahns hints at the Bears keeping an eye on the market with hopes of adding a right tackle:
This is an oddly specific thing to tweet at this stage of free agency.
I’m not suggesting a free-agent right tackle signing is imminent, but planting this on our radar now makes me think the Bears are reaching out and kicking the tires on potential options. And that would be a good thing for this front office. Yes, there is a due diligence factor here. However, as Jahns points out, this team’s top right tackle starting options are Larry Borom and Alex Leatherwood. I don’t think that is going to cut it for this regime. Clearly, the Bears don’t think so either. Otherwise, they wouldn’t still be browsing free agency for veteran help at the position.
Borom has appeared in 23 games, made 17 starts, and played three different positions as a pro. That isn’t something we should take for granted. Useful depth with playing experience at three different offensive line positions doesn’t fall out of the sky every day. But the Bears should strive to do better in terms of finding a full-time starter — right? Meanwhile, Leatherwood remains a worthwhile reclamation project in my eyes. Unfortunately, the Leatherwood at tackle experiment didn’t go all too well last year. Maybe the Raiders were right to move him inside as quickly as they did when he was a rookie in 2021.
These Free Agent Options Make Sense as Bears Fits
Now that we’ve re-established the Bears have a need at right tackle, who makes sense as a possible target?
Let’s name names:
- Cameron Fleming, Broncos: Fleming started 15 games for Denver last year and has experience on both sides of the line. At age 30, Fleming doesn’t fit the age profile the Bears seem to target. However, you can make sense of it if you squint. For instance, I’d offer up that playing in Denver’s system last year means there is some familiarity with what Chicago wants to do offensively because Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy are branches from the same tree in Green Bay. The Bears could do worse than Fleming as a placeholder option.
- George Fant, Jets: Fant and Fleming check some similar boxes. Both are 30-year-old free-agent veterans who have notable starting experience at both tackle spots. Also, I don’t feel like it is much of a stretch to make the Luke Getsy-Matt LaFleur-Mike LaFleur connection. It feels like a vast majority of teams are running Shanahan style type of things. So perhaps those are the types of linemen the Bears might be targeting at this stage of free agency.
- Billy Turner, Broncos: I thought the Bears should’ve been in on Turner last offseason. The 31-year-old has shown he has all sorts of positional flexibility over the years. And that he crossed paths with Getsy in Green Bay from 2018-21 had me thinking he was a sensible fit. Maybe it makes more sense one year later with Chicago in search of veteran help to play the role of stopgap lineman.
- Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: OK, so Wynn might not be a perfect fit. And that the Patriots are letting him walk after signing ex-Bears lineman Riley Reiff might be a sign that Chicago should stay away. But there is a certain allure to a player who has a first-round prospect pedigree, starting experience, and age on his side. Wynn is 26 and he could still have some untapped upside. If the front office trusts the coaching staff Matt Eberflus has put together, then maybe they’ll target Wynn in free agency.
I want to be VERY clear here: The Bears’ best path to rebuilding their offensive line is through the draft. It doesn’t matter if it comes in Round 1, Day 2, or even the seventh round. This team needs to attack the draft with an extra sense of vigor in order to build the type of unit it wants in front of quarterback Justin Fields. However, the Bears aren’t going to fix all their holes in one offseason. Hence, the need to use free agency to fill in the gaps. Good thing there are still options worth checking out. And perhaps one will be joining the Bears soon.