The Chicago Bears want to make the offensive line a priority this offseason. Signing free agent center Ryan Jensen could be a great move.
In just a couple of weeks, the new Chicago Bears regime gets its first shot at rebuilding the roster. The road to a new era of winning begins on March 16th, when the new league and free agency begin.
New general manager Ryan Poles has a big task ahead of him. He faces having over 60 percent of the roster hitting free agency. On one hand, he has a difficult job right off the bat. On the other hand, however, being in that situation gives him a chance to rebuild quicker than normal. The roster isn’t loaded with long, bloated contracts. If Poles makes the right decisions the Bears could be a contender earlier than most people expect.
As I mentioned, free agency starts on March 16th. Poles has to look through the available free agents and try to sign some who can help the team turn its fortunes around.
Veteran free agent could be top priority for the Chicago Bears OL woes
One area that Poles said would be a priority this offseason is the offensive line. He wants to protect the franchise quarterback, Justin Fields. Fields spent too much time basically running for his life behind a struggling offensive line.
Poles said that looking through the film he saw a weak offensive line too many times. Not weak as in strength but weak as in standing up for their quarterback and keeping him clean. The Bears’ offensive line gave up 58 sacks in 2021, the most in the NFL. Poles said he didn’t see enough of the linemen picking their quarterback up, whoever it was.
Poles also mentioned not seeing enough fight from the offensive linemen. He didn’t see them go after opponents who hit the quarterback a little more than expected. Even if it causes a penalty, opposing teams need to know that if they go extra at Fields it will result in consequences.
Poles wants a nasty unit. He wants the linemen to play through the whistle, sometimes even past the whistle. In the past, opposing defenses knew they were in for a long game when they faced the Chicago Bears. Poles wants those days to return.
"If I see my guy on the ground, I’m running over there, getting him up.., I don’t know if I saw that enough in the tape that I watched, and that’s critical… If you see something cheap, something dirty, you need to set the tone that that’s not gonna happen, because if you do let it happen once, it’s going to happen over and over and next thing you know, your quarterback is hurt. So that (nastiness) mentality is critical and is something we need to add."
One player Poles can go after who can check those boxes is center Ryan Jensen. The Bears have a need at center. Sam Mustipher is one of the current players who will hit free agency. The Bears might not want to go after Mustipher after having such a poor 2021 season. Mustipher’s shot as a starter couldn’t have gone worse and it appears as if his time in Chicago could be over as a result.
Jensen could be that nasty veteran leader the Bears need on the offensive line. He is no pushover and he demands that every player does his job. The Bears lack that veteran lineman who gets the rest of the unit in shape. The others need that alpha male who can lead them. Jensen is that guy.
Jensen is an eight-year player and made his first Pro Bowl this season. He is also a durable player, having played every game for the past five seasons. Additionally, he only committed 11 penalties in the past three seasons. As we know, the offensive line has committed a boatload of penalties every season. Having someone who does his job and avoids penalties is an example for the rest of the linemen to follow.
Many figured that Jensen would take a pay cut and stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but with Tom Brady‘s retirement, Jensen could see his way out of Tampa. Having a young, up-and-coming quarterback he could help would be an attractive option for him.
Signing Jensen could require a nice chunk of change. Signing him could cost the Bears $10-11 million per season. However, signing Jensen would give a big sign that Poles is serious about what he said about the offensive line.
The Bears should have enough to be able to work out a deal for Jensen. Having him with a fairly young Chicago Bears offensive line unit could transform it and help with Field’s development.