Thursday, May 23, 2024

Former Player Fears Chicago Bears Failed To Fix Vital Position


GM Ryan Poles deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done this off-season. The Chicago Bears took care of so much important business. Jaylon Johnson was locked down to a new contract. Austin Booker arrived to bolster their thin pass rush. Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze vastly upgraded their firepower. Caleb Williams hopefully become the long-lost quarterback they’ve been missing. There isn’t too much to complain about with Poles’ work over the past three months. However, there is one exception.


After cutting Cody Whitehair and letting Lucas Patrick walk in free agency, the Bears had no definitive option in the middle of their offensive line. Rather than opt for a high draft choice or a top free agent, Poles took a somewhat circuitous route. He traded a 5th round pick to Buffalo for Ryan Bates, a part-time starting guard who had a small handful of starts at center. Then, he signed Coleman Shelton, who started at the position last season for the Los Angeles Rams. While he has experience in the type of offense the Bears will run, nobody would confuse him for a massive upgrade.

NFL Network analyst and former offensive lineman Brian Baldinger expressed fears on 670 The Score that Chicago didn’t do enough at a position that is vital to offensive success.

Subscribe to the BFR Youtube channel and ride shotgun with Dave and Ficky as they break down Bears football like nobody else.

The Chicago Bears playing it cheap at center is nothing new.

They have a long history of doing this. Jay Hilgenberg was an undrafted free agent in the 1980s, and Olin Kreutz was a 3rd round pick. They have only drafted a center in the 2nd round or higher once in the Super Bowl era, and that was James Daniels. Whitehair was a tackle in college. The Bears planned to make him a guard before an injury to Hroniss Grasu (another 3rd round pick) forced them to shift him to the middle. He was never a center in college. This bargain-hunting method is all the more perplexing given the array of excellent interior defensive linemen they’ve had to go against in recent years.

All signs point to Bates as the current favorite to claim the starting job. Poles has clearly favored him since the Chicago Bears tried signing the veteran as a restricted free agent two years ago. The GM sees something in him. Bates played well when given opportunities, but center is unfamiliar territory. This is a calculated gamble by the Bears. It explains why they signed Shelton. He serves as good insurance if Bates doesn’t take to the transition well. Either way, it feels like this is nothing but a stop-gap measure.


Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
May 23, 2024 10:50 pm

I find it curious that every single college team uses centers, and every pro team uses centers. At the same time, no player touches the ball more than the center, and yet, so few players are considered viable as centers, or coachable, or have the right “body type.”
Is the center position so uncoachable? I’m presuming that one of the signed guards will be playing at center, but given how many problems the Bears had in the center of their O-line last year, the desire to coach players would be the highest priority.

May 21, 2024 11:48 am

LT and C have been bargain bin selections. Nothing wrong with that if it works. They are two positions you might prioritize over a third receiver. Maybe Poles is banking on CW’s scrambling skills. If Braxton and Bates hold their own he won’t have to.

May 21, 2024 11:20 am

Poles seems to have an eye for getting the right pieces, and doing it without over spending. Being a former lineman, he must have seen something in Bates that others missed. And for a 5th round pick, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He couldn’t fill all the needs with this years draft, but he certainly has a good track record so far. Sweat was worth giving up a 2nd round pick. Moore came from trading down in the draft, while getting a RT in the process. A clear upgrade at safety, along with Edwards and Edmonds signings,… Read more »

Wes P
Wes P
May 21, 2024 8:32 am

It seems there’s always a position or two that still needs to be improved. The Bears had only so many options this year with limited draft choices and I think they made good use of their picks. However, time will tell if Bates or Shelton can do an adequate job at the center. They are becoming very close to having the talent they want at most positions but defensive end and center are two that will need to improve.

May 20, 2024 6:39 pm

I could see Connor Williams as a signing right before the season starts like Yannick last year. There is still too much he has to do before guys lean on him. Pilfer a guy of a practice squad.

Chicago SportsNEWS
Recommended for you

Give us your thoughts.x