This is the final look at the Chicago Bears offensive line, and the seventh overall in our 13 part series. If you need to catch up on any of the past articles, click here for the full Roster Series story-stream.
Jermon Bushrod - Signed through 2017 - The Bears felt they had to secure a professional left tackle last off season, so they ponied up the money to do so. Bushrod worked with Bears offensive coordinator / offensive line coach Aaron Kromer in New Orleans, so the Bears knew exactly what they were getting for $35 million dollars.
The inconsistent play and penalties from the tackle position in 2012 was just something Phil Emery had seen enough of. Bushrod was brought in to play the more difficult left side with J'Marcus Webb shifting over to the right side. Webb couldn't get it done, and the next guy on this list took over.
But back to Bushrod. Pro Football Focus had him in the red for the season at -2.0, which was way down at #50 overall. This was partly due to the large amount of hurries PFF tabbed him with, 42. I disagree with the hurries that PFF gave to the Bears tackles, as I believe many were just a product of the timing of the offense. This is a belief I share with Kromer, and something I've gone over at length here on WCG. If you care to rehash that argument here's the link to my side.
PFF had Bushrod solid for 15 games, but his -11.6 against the Rams killed his overall grade. The Bears left him on an island, pulled him on both the run and screen game, and I though he was a clear upgrade over Webb's play last season.
Jordan Mills - Signed through 2016 - Mills stated he planned on starting for the Bears when he was drafted, and he ended up starting all 16 games. I watched him closely all season long and even though he showed flashes, he played like a rookie. He showed promise, he uses his hands well, and has solid technique, but there were some rookie miscues that he'll need to improve on.
PFF gave Mills the most hurries in the league, 62 (but remember my thoughts on their hurry stat), and that led to a 74th ranked -31.1. While I think the Bears are hoping for that 1st year - 2nd year jump in improvement, I don't think they should go into 2014 without a solid back up plan.
I've mentioned a future Kyle Long / Jordan Mills swap at some point, with Mills kicking inside to guard. The problem with that is the Bears routinely ask their guards to pull, and Mills will need to show he's quick enough to get to his spot.
Don't get me wrong, I do see the potential in Mills, but I also know the reality shows he was the weak link on the line. He deserves to go into camp as the starting RT, but he should be pushed.
Eben Britton - Free Agent - I would like to see the Bears bring the versatile Britton back in 2014. He played tight end for the Bears, he knows guard, and he filled in at tackle. I wouldn't be surprised if he could jump in and play center if asked. Britton may have a better shot at starting elsewhere, but until free agency hits, it's hard to gauge what interest there may be in his services.
Last year he sat unemployed until mid April, and upon entering camp, his roster spot was far from secured. Britton was willing to do anything to make an impression on the coaches, and his hard work paid off. He played in weeks 4-17 and PFF graded his total play at +4.1. That was on 239 snaps overall, including a +3.1 for the final 48 he had at right tackle filling in for Mills.
Jonathan Scott - Free Agent - Scott filled in a bit during the 2012 season, but he didn't see any '13 action. I highly doubt the Bears will bring him back next year. If they do, it'll be on a veteran minimum contract with zero guaranteed money.
Joe Long - Signed through 2014 - I must have missed the memo on Long, but some fans already have him penciled in as the back up left tackle for 2014. He's under contract so he'll have a chance to complete, but nothing will be handed to Jake's younger brother. The Bears are his third team after going undrafted in 2012, and he shares his alma mater with Bears GM Phil Emery as both attended Wayne State University in Detroit.
He's 6'5", 304 pounds, and he started 49 games at left tackle in college. The scouting report on him was that he lacked athleticism to play on the left side in the NFL, and any future would be best spent on the right side. If he was smart, he would go the Eben Britton route and learn guard too. He'll have a shot at a roster spot, so you never can tell.
Rogers Gaines - Signed a reserve/future contract - Gaines is a big strong kid that played at a small school, and his NFL Combine page from last year compared him to J'Marcus Webb. But don't hold that against him.
The Baltimore Ravens signed him in 2013 as an undrafted free agent after starting his last two years at Tennessee State. He spent time on the Bears practice squad last season.
2014 OUTLOOK - In Gaines and Long the Bears have two raw prospects that they hope can win a swing tackle job. Britton is obviously the better player at this point in their careers, but he may have played his way out of Chicago. Scott is a possibility, especially if Britton walks, as would be another cheap veteran or two. Phil Emery will also be ready for the undrafted free agent pool.
What are your thoughts on the tackle position for the Chicago Bears?