I wonder if anyone within Chicago's front office thought free agent offensive lineman John St. Clair would fetch the type of contract he signed Tuesday with Cleveland, a surprising development that left the Bears without an obvious success to retiring right tackle John Tait.
St. Clair got a three-year deal worth $9 million, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Browns essentially doubled the contract Chicago offered last month, a three-year contract worth $4.5 million.
It has long been assumed that St. Clair would re-sign with the Bears after starting all 16 games at left tackle in 2008. Chris Williams has taken over at left tackle, but Tait's retirement gave St. Clair a natural landing spot on the other side of the line.
St. Clair has been a utility backup for most of his career, and you could argue he is overpriced at $3 million per season. The Bears obviously had a lower value of his skills, but that assessment has left them needing to find a right tackle either in the draft or hope that a more prominent free agent materializes later in the offseason.
The only internal option is to shift newcomer Frank Omiyale to right tackle and re-insert Josh Beekman as the No. 1 left guard. But that would defeat the purpose of originally signing Omiyale, which was to upgrade the left guard position.
The cupboard otherwise is bare. (Pun intended.) At Tuesday's mini-camp practice, undrafted rookie Cody Balogh was working with the first team.