Kyle Long - Signed through 2021 - The Chicago Bears need Kyle Long to bounce back after his surgeries this offseason. He had a procedure done in December to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and he had his labrum worked on last month. During the 2017 season he also dealt with a dislocated finger, which was speculated was the first of the three surgeries he endured this offseason. He also missed the first two games of 2017 while recovering from ankle surgery.
But now Long is on the road to recovery and to getting his body ready for training camp. General manager Ryan Pace, who signed Long to a big contract extension last year, says they are “confident in the direction he’s headed.”
If Long is healthy enough to practice this offseason, that will help stabilize the interior of their offensive line.
One more thing... Kyle Long isn’t moving to tackle.
Josh Sitton - Signed through 2018 - The Bears have a decision to make on Sitton because his contract has a team option for the 2018 season. The window to pick that option up opens on February 9, and closes on March 9. Electing to let him go will result in a cap savings of about $8 million.
With a new coaching regime in place parting with Sitton is a possibility, but he’s still an above average guard. Unless the Bears really think they’ll need the money they’ll save from dumping Sitton, I’d like to see him stay one more year.
Eric Kush - Signed though 2018 - The Bears really missed Kush last year. Had he been healthy, they never would have had to shuffle Cody Whitehair around so much. Kush is a decent player that can play all three spots on the interior. He also appears to be recovered from hamstring surgery.
Jordan Morgan - Signed through 2020 - After missing his entire rookie season, there’s no way to know what Morgan is at this point in his career. The Kutztown University product was a tackle in college, but the Bears’ plan was to play him at guard. I would assume new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand feels the same way about the 6’3” Morgan.
Tom Compton - Free agent - I thought Compton played better than the other offensive lineman they added last season on a one year deal, Bradley Sowell, but it’s time for the Bears to stop adding veteran backup stopgaps. They need some young players to step up and push these types of players off the roster. Hopefully Morgan is a viable option.
Cameron Lee - Signed though 2018 - It’s fun to root for a local kid, and Lee was a walk on at Illinois State after playing his high school ball at Oakwood High School which is about two and a half hours south of Chicago just outside of Champaign. He played guard and some right tackle in college, so the 6’5” Lee could be versatile enough to stick.
Will Pericak - Signed though 2018 - This will probably be Perciak’s last chance to stick on an NFL roster. The Bears are his seventh team since being an undrafted free agent of the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. Back then he was a defensive lineman, but in 2015 the Seattle Seahawks converted him to the offensive side of the ball.
2018 OUTLOOK - If I was running the show, my interior would be Long and Sitton at guards, and Cody Whitehair at center. Sitton’s issues last year seemed to come early, but he settled in and played good down the stretch. He’s not what he once was, but he’s still a starting caliber guard.
There’s been a lot a chatter about the Bears drafting Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson in the first round, and I wouldn’t be against that. He’s an NFL ready player, with perennial Pro Bowl potential.
I think the team has more pressing needs with the eighth pick in the draft, so going o-line later would be my preference. If the Bears can find a way to trade back in the second round and pick up a third rounder in the process, there are a few 2nd/3rd round type of prospects worth getting. Isaiah Wynn from Georgia played left tackle, but projects to guard because he’s a little on the short side (kind of like Cody Whitehair). UTEP guard Will Hernandez had a really good Senior Bowl. Iowa C/G James Daniels is a really good athlete, but would need to add some NFL strength. At some point, I really would like to see them address interior o-line in the draft.
On the free agency side of things, yesterday I talked about Kansas City’s Zach Fulton possibly joining new head coach Matt Nagy. He can play center and guard, but he’s going to get starter money. The only way I see the Bears paying him is if they plan to start him, which means Sitton would probably be gone. They’ll probably add a backup level guard/center in free agency just so they can get some competition in camp.