One thing is going to become apparent with new GM Ryan Poles. This Chicago Bears roster will see lots of changes over the next two or three offseasons. If it weren’t, then Ryan Pace would still have a job. This team is old and expensive. Now they’re coming off their first losing season since 2017. Poles’ job is to get things turned around. That will likely involve cutting all the dead weight Pace left behind. However, trickier decisions are looming as well. None bigger than David Montgomery.
The former 3rd round pick concluded another productive season at running back for Chicago. He finished with 1,150 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. It’s the third consecutive season he has topped the 1,000 total yards mark. Most would agree he was the Bears’ best player on offense. Only Darnell Mooney has a counterargument to that statement. This has led to a difficult question.
Do the Bears look to extend Montgomery?
Running backs still have a significant role in offenses today, but teams are more reluctant than ever to pay them big money. Only eight players have managed to top $10 million per year, and the teams that paid them are likely regretting those decisions with the benefit of hindsight. Ezekiel Elliott fell off a cliff after getting his money. Christian McCaffrey can’t stay healthy. Derrick Henry missed most of the previous season with an injury. It is situations like those that have teams so reluctant to pay any serious money at the position.
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Especially when it is pretty easy to replace production at running back on the cheap. Despite all of that, cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus told Bill Zimmerman of the Bears Banter podcast that he believes the Bears will still end up signing Montgomery to an extension. Not necessarily because of his production, either. It would be more of a locker room and culture move—a way to get other players to buy into the new regime.
“We know he is a great locker room guy. He would eat glass if Ryan Poles asked him to eat glass. All those things, when you are trying to establish a culture, and trying to get a locker room to buy in, those reasons and rationales aren’t always smart, but I really do, I think he’s going to get extended. I think it’ll fall in the 10 to 12 million per year range, maybe even more frankly. How it ages? Probably won’t be great but I do think that is a strong possibility.”
Paying David Montgomery can’t be about emotions
Giving a guy such a large contract must leave personal feelings from the locker room out of it. This must be a business decision. Poles has a responsibility to do what is best for the Bears. Paying Montgomery over $10 million per year is a lot. There is no question the running back has been rock-solid as a player since arriving three years ago. Still, nobody can say he’s played at the level of Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, or Alvin Kamara. All guys who are earning that kind of money.
This will sound harsh but paying A-grade money to a B-grade player is how the Bears got into the situation they’re in. Look at Eddie Jackson for confirmation. He had one great year in 2018 and turned that into a contract the team no doubt regrets. David Montgomery can’t make a similar boast. He’s been a model of consistency. He was an absolute warrior in some bad offenses, but he is also a player with a clear ceiling.
He isn’t likely to get any better than he is right now.
With so many other positions needing help, positions of greater value, it feels like paying him that kind of money isn’t the wisest decision. Also, don’t forget Poles comes from an organization that hasn’t extended a running back since the latest regime took over. Leadership aside, it just doesn’t seem like the new GM will be inclined to hand Montgomery that kind of money.