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Chicago Bears 2020 Roster Turnover: Is running back set?

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In this 13 part series we’ll take an in depth look at each position group for the Chicago Bears with an eye towards the 2020 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

David Montgomery - Signed through 2022 - It wasn’t the type of splash the Chicago Bears were hoping to make with their rookie running back last year, but Montgomery’s 889 yards rushing was the second most among all first year players. He’ll need to improve on the 3.7 yards per carry in 2020, but that’s partly on the offensive line too. I thought his willingness to just take what was there improved as the season wore on, and in his last fives games of the 2019 season his average yards per carry was a respectable 4.3.

The running game is a point of emphasis this offseason for Matt Nagy and his coaching staff, and getting Montgomery more production is a must.

Tarik Cohen - Signed through 2020 - Cohen’s effectiveness decreased in 2019 and getting his touches to mean more in 2020 will be a key part of turning the offense around. He had nine drops, his yards per catch was nearly cut in half from a season ago, and the flash plays we’ve grown accustomed to seeing during his first two years were few and far between. In 2019 Cohen had 2 plays from scrimmage that went for twenty or more yards, but in 2018 he had 16 such plays. Even as a punt returner his number of 20+ yard plays decreased to 3 last year from 7 in 2018.

Cohen is a mismatch and he’s best used on option routes out of the backfield, so hopefully the Bears will get back to what works with him, and hopefully he’s laser-focused in his contract year.

Ryan Nall - Signed through 2020 - Nall had the first two touches of his NFL career in the season finale last year, but he only had a grand total of 9 snaps on offense. The Bears probably don’t view him as anymore than a special teamer at this point, and he’ll have some competition for his spot on the roster.

2020 OUTLOOK - Technically speaking, Cordarrelle Patterson will also get some run at tailback for the Bears next year, but most of his reps were at wide out a year ago, so I’ll touch on him more in the WR article.

I doubt the Bears would drop any significant money on a free agent, but adding a young veteran or two to compete in camp makes sense.

The Bears saw seventh-round draft pick and practice squadder Kerrith Whyte Jr. leave for the Steelers last year, so drafting a running back isn’t something the Bears are opposed to doing. In a perfect world Whyte would have turned down the Steelers and been in the mix for some playing time in 2020 with the Bears, but the chance to get some actual offensive reps (plus a 53-man roster paycheck) was too much for him to turn down.

There are several running backs in the draft that the Bears could latch on to, so I asked our resident draft guru, Jacob Infante, his take on one of his favs, the Fighting Illini’s Reggie Corbin.

Tarik Cohen is entering the final year of his rookie contract, so the Bears could groom a guy like Corbin to be his successor. The Illinois standout is an electric runner with all-around great athleticism who could be good value in Rounds 5 or 6.

What do you guys think the Bears will do at running back this offseason?