Before the season started, the Bears' interior offensive line was made up of a bunch of guys that Jerry Angelo probably couldn't have traded away for a ham sandwich if he tried. Lance Louis was a seventh-round pick, Chris Williams was just learning the ropes of the guard position, Roberto Garza was switching from his guard position to take over the center spot from Olin Kreutz, Edwin WIlliams had some good games but couldn't crack the starting lineup, and Chris Spencer was brought in in the Training Camp Express as a "busted pick" from Tim Ruskell's Seattle era.
After the season? All five of those players started multiple games throughout the year, the team rushed for over 2000 yards for the second time in 20 years, and rushes through the line's interior garnered 4 yards per attempt.
So it's probably pretty certain that these five will stick on the roster. In Lester's excellent Roster Turnover series, he stated he could see a scenario where Garza is dropped due to salary cap concerns if Spencer shows up well in camp. He also points out that Spencer is the highest paid lineman at $2.25 million, plus a roster bonus.
Let that sink in for a second. For as "deep" as this pool of linemen is (especially guards and centers), the top two linemen in salary are making $4 million combined. And we wonder why the line's struggled? Hard to have a productive unit when three players are making one million or more. I'm not saying throwing money is the solution, but it sure can't hurt.
But I digress, particularly because a decent unit at value is usually paramount to a championship team. And in this case, the above five players provided 14 games at right guard (Spencer), 16 starts at center (Garza), 12 starts combined at right guard and right tackle (Louis), nine games at left guard before a season ending injury (C-Will) and the final seven games at left guard (E-Will), all at a combined cost last season of shy of six million. In addition, four of those players have taken at least practice snaps at center, two of them can play tackle, and three of them (Spencer and both Williamses) are entering the final year of their contracts.
So heading into next year, how comfortable are you with the interior of the Bears' offensive line? Would you like to see them add a player to the unit, and who would you bump off to add that player?