The two planned starting guards for the Chicago Bears in the 2023 season only started eleven games each, which meant the Bears were forced to play the second stringer in twelve contests. The Bears will likely head into the 2024 season with the same starting plan at guard, but their backup plan needs to be better.
It’s not just guard depth that needs improvement; it’s at center, too, so bolstering the interior is a must.
Here’s how the guard position looks for Chicago heading into the 2024 season.
Teven Jenkins - Signed through 2024 - When he’s on the field, he’s been outstanding, but he missed five games last season and four in 2022. It’s why a fair contract extension for Jenkins will be tricky to figure out if the two sides talk money this offseason.
My guess is they’ll wait it out and see how ‘24 goes, similar to what happened last season with Jaylon Johnson. Jenkins could very well find himself in the same boat as Jaylon if he has a big year, and with him seemingly locked into the same position (left guard) for consecutive seasons, he is primed to do so.
Nate Davis - Signed through 2025 - Davis has also missed time in the last couple of years. In 2022, while in Tennessee, he missed five games, and last year in Chicago, he missed six. Davis had a difficult time in the offseason due to his mother’s illness and ultimate passing, which makes it tough to evaluate his play early. Then he suffered a high ankle sprain, which caused him to miss four games midseason, and then he left the season finale with a foot issue.
Davis has a significant cap hit in ‘24 ($11M), so he’s not going anywhere. Hopefully, he can get his body and mind right this offseason and come into camp raring to go.
Cody Whitehair - Signed through 2024 - While 2024 is Cody’s last contracted season, a $1.1 million void year is tacked on in 2025 — Thanks, Ryan Pace! — but if the Bears make him a post-June 1 cut, they’d save about $10 million in cap space.
I don’t see any scenario where Cody isn’t released, but after eight years and 118 starts at guard and center, another team will be interested if he wants to continue playing.
UPDATE: Cody was released on 2/15. (link)
Ja’Tyre Carter - Signed through 2025 - Carter hasn’t looked overmatched when given a chance, but after two early starts and offensive reps in three other games, Carter didn’t play on offense from week eight on.
Jerome Carvin - Signed through 2024 - The Bears signed Carvin on a reserve/futures deal after he spent time on their practice squad. Originally an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs, he does have experience at all three interior positions in college at Tennessee.
Bill Murray - Signed through 2024 - Murray is another reserve/futures guy who was on Chicago’s practice squad in 2023.
2024 Outlook: The Bears won’t spend big money at guard, but they need to find someone with starting experience. The problem is enticing a player who believes he’s a starter to come to a team with two guards already in place.
Dalton Risner signed a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Vikings a few weeks into the 2023 season and ended up starting 11 games. If his market never materializes, he may see a path to some playing time in Chicago.
Houston’s Michael Deiter and the Jets’ Connor McGovern can both play guard and center, but it wouldn’t surprise me if either Dan Feeney or Lucas Patrick returned as a backup on the interior.
With where the Bears are currently slated to draft, I would expect them to target a center, and if they can land one that can also play guard, that’ll be a bonus. Arkansas’ Beaux Limmer or Wisconsin’s Tanor Bortolini could be day three options.
What do you hope to see the Bears do at guard in 2024?
If the #Bears sign a center in FA, I’d still like them to add to the interior in the draft.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) February 10, 2024
Dominick Puni from Kansas is a Round 3-4 guy I like. Versatile OL with quick feet, a study anchor and a high motor. Would like him a lot in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/ODGsw54xxY