Armed with more than $100 million in salary cap space, the Chicago Bears have understandably been one of the most active teams throughout the entire 2023 offseason when it comes to adding players. On top of signing 15 unrestricted free agents up to this point, the Bears also made a blockbuster move to acquire DJ Moore from the Carolina Panthers and general manager Ryan Poles has undoubtedly done his part to reshape the roster.
One major area of focus was the offensive line, where the Bears were hoping for continued progression from former second-round pick Teven Jenkins, a converted tackle who has found a home for them at the left guard position. Unfortunately, Jenkins is now expected to miss a decent amount of time with an injury.
Even with former first-round pick Alex Leatherwood in wait, the Chicago Bears may have to dip into the free agent pool for a 16th major acquisition to their roster. It just so happens that one of the top projected free agent guards — former Denver Broncos second-round pick Dalton Risner — is still looking for work.
Risner’s availability at this point of the year is staggering. He was projected to receive somewhere in the realm of $8-10 million per season on a free agent contract. Even with some struggles in Denver after his rookie season, Risner was mostly a reliable starter who was probably better in the running game than he was in pass protection.
A constant shifting of offensive philosophies didn’t exactly help Risner, but he did get the chance to learn under Hall of Famer Mike Munchak for a few years with the Broncos.
Despite any struggles he may have had on the field as a guard with the Broncos, it’s shocking that he’s still available at this point in the offseason. Risner was a second-round pick in 2019, he’s been a consistent starter, and he was the Broncos’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee last year. The biggest reason he may still be available at this point is that he got into a scuffle with Broncos backup QB Brett Rypien on the sideline of the team’s Christmas Day loss to the Rams.
Now, nobody has flat-out come out and said this is the reason why Risner remains unsigned, but it would make the most sense. But the Chicago Bears might not have a better option at this point. As a matter of fact, a player of this caliber being available this deep into August?
It’s more of a gift from the football gods than anything else. With Teven Jenkins needing a good amount of time to recover, this could be the ideal situation for both the Chicago Bears and for Dalton Risner, for that matter. He’s been waiting for an opportunity to actually go play somewhere, and the Bears may now offer him that opportunity.