The Chicago Bears haven’t made their intentions clear as yet. Yet it isn’t hard to see just from what has happened to this point. Initially, it looked like they were angling to find a serious upgrade at right tackle after cutting Bobby Massie. However, that changed when they re-signed Germain Ifedi. He will fill that spot this season. So that raises the bigger question. Are the Bears also planning to move on from Charles Leno?
The bread crumbs are out there to follow. It’s common knowledge GM Ryan Pace made a play last week to possibly lure eight-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams to Chicago. Williams has been a left tackle his entire career. In the end, he signed a monster deal in San Francisco. Around that same time, SM reported the team was also looking into both Eric Fisher and Russell Okung as well. Both career left tackles.
It isn’t hard to read between the lines there.
The Bears could be seeking a bridge off Leno Island. The former 7th round pick has been their left tackle since 2015. He hasn’t missed a game in that time and even made the Pro Bowl in 2018. All things considered, that was probably one of their best picks of the 2010s. Still, his play the past two years can be called average at best.
Adding to the problem is his contract. Leno counts $11.3 million against the cap this coming season. Chicago is hard-pressed for money. Releasing him would net $6.2 million in additional space. With some quality veterans available who could be cheaper along with a stacked draft class at the position? All the signs are there for a possible switch looming.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2021
Bears doing homework on Charles Leno draft replacements too
They have been active for weeks in meeting with tackle prospects. Rashawn Slater, Dillon Radunz, and Sam Cosmi are just three names they’ve been collecting extra data on. One can surmise others are on their list as well. Everything about this team says they’re planning to invest in that position. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity.
Fisher was released by the Kansas City Chiefs a few weeks ago. He’s recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in the AFC championship game. So nobody is in a rush to sign him. The same can be said for Okung who dealt with calf problems last year. The Bears likely wish to have a good sense of their health situations before deciding on whether to move on from Charles Leno. Not an unwise consideration.
Either way, it’s not hard to see the writing on the wall.
Both Leno and Ifedi will be free agents in 2022. That makes it clear enough they’re going to draft somebody next month. It’s just a matter of when. Will they seek to move away from Leno sooner than later? The warning signs are hard to ignore. If the Bears want to take advantage of the cap relief he’d bring, one has to imagine it will happen sooner than later. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much point to it unless they really feel Fisher, Okung, or somebody else is that big of an upgrade.