Charles Leno Jr. - Signed through 2021 - The Chicago Bears restructured Leno’s deal last year to create some extra cap space, while also creating two voidable years at the end of the contract (2022-23), so from a money standpoint he’s likely on the roster through the 2021 season at the very least. He had a down year for sure in 2019 and it took him a while to get acclimated to the referee’s tighter expectations, but he settled into a decent groove in the second half. But then he ruined whatever good vibes he was building by laying an egg in the season finale against the Vikings.
Leno has to bounce back in 2020 and I expect him to do so.
And by bounce back, I’m not talking about becoming one of the top left tackles in the NFL, I’m talking about simply being a consistent performer for the Bears. In the last four seasons Leno has missed only 11 offensive snaps and he’s started 77 straight games for the Bears at left tackle.
Even though his 2019 was below his usual standards, I’d argue that Leno was the best offensive lineman on the Bears. The right side was a mess all year long, and the center-left guard swap, then swap back, hurt the performances from Cody Whitehair and James Daniels. Whitehair eventually settled back into center and played well down the stretch, but Daniels was better as a rookie.
The entire unit needs to get better, and with only one expected change (RG), it’ll be up to the players in house to self scout and get it done.
An upgrade at the left tackle position would be nice, but until one presents itself, the Bears will be content to stay in the Leno business.
Bobby Massie - Signed through 2022 - You better get used to Massie starting at right tackle for the Bears, because he has at least one more year before the Bears could cut him with minimal dead cap space. Massie will turn 31 before the season starts, so if the Bears could draft his eventual replacement this year, that would be great.
Injuries hurt his 2019 season, but if healthy he’s a decent option for the Bears.
Cornelius Lucas III - Free agent - Lucas wasn’t very good last year filling in at right tackle, but he’s a reserve, so that was expected. I would rather see a younger prospect filling Chicago’s swing tackle role, but until they identify that guy they might bring Lucas back on a veteran minimum deal.
T.J. Clemmings - Free agent - He missed all of last year with an injury, so the Bears should be able to get him back on a vet minimum deal to compete for a back up role if they want.
Dino Boyd - Signed through 2020 - If he can show the ability to play guard as well as tackle he could be a surprise this offseason, but realistically speaking his best chance to stick around will be on the practice squad.
2020 OUTLOOK - With as much money as the Bears have tied up in their starting tackles, there’s no way they’ll drop any significant cash on another. They’ll try to upgrade their swing tackle in free agency, but I’m talking about an older vet trying to hold on in a reserve role, or a younger guy looking for a fresh start.
Now the 2020 NFL Draft is another story, because this is a solid tackle class. The Bears could target a guy in the second round, or even on day three, and have him in the mix for not only the swing tackle spot, but also at right guard.
Our draft expert, Jacob Infante, has thoughts on one rookie tackle in particular, UConn’s Matt Peart.
UConn is far from a football powerhouse, but they’re sending an intriguing prospect to the NFL in Peart. A long and nimble tackle prospect, he is still quite raw but could be a developmental option for the Bears in the fourth round.
At 6’6”, 310 pounds, and a 86” wingspan, he has a good frame for offensive tackle, but scouts say he needs to get stronger and to refine his technique. His athleticism shines on tape however, and he could grow into a starting role relatively quick.
I’ve seen Prince Tega Wanogho from Auburn mocked to the Bears in the second round, and he’s another long and athletic prospect that would fit the Bears zone blocking scheme.
What are your thoughts on the tackle spot for the Bears in 2020?