The Bears and general manager Ryan Pace finally did it. They finally signed an offensive lineman in free agency. And while former Seattle Seahawk first-round pick Germain Ifedi's signing won't be met with much excitement or praise, his addition will have a big ripple effect on the depth chart throughout the offseason and into next fall.
Ifedi, like many other former first-rounders, joins the Bears with a skill set that at one time made him one of the top 32 prospects in the country but for one reason or another, he just hasn't lived up to his scouting report.
Seattle selected the former Texas A&M standout with the 31st pick of the 2016 NFL draft and while his play has left a bit to be desired, he does have 60 career starts (in 60 games played). His status as a starter may have been a product of the Seahawks' underwhelming offensive line group, however. He's never graded higher than a 58.8 by Pro Football Focus in any year of his career (his 58.8 came in 2019).
As bad as that grade appears, compare it to what the Bears received from their right guards last season. Kyle Long (38.0) and Rashaad Coward (51.0) were worse.
Ifedi wasn't signed by the Bears to compete for a starting job at right tackle. He's in Chicago to fight with Coward and second-year man Alex Bars to fill the vacancy at right guard. And when factoring pedigree, experience, and on-field production, Ifedi seems like the clubhouse leader.
Assuming Ifedi wins the right guard competition, Coward will slide back to a valuable reserve role. Having a player like Coward ready to step in at either guard spot in case of injury or poor play is critically important and arguably the best role he can fill for this team. Bars, who may be destined for the practice squad once again, will certainly be given a chance to prove he belongs in the conversation too. But the Bears don't appear willing to go through the bumps and bruises of a developmental season for any of their starters. Just look at what they've done at quarterback, edge rusher and even tight end; it's win-now mode in Chicago.
That's why Ifedi makes the most sense to pencil in as the starter: Charles Leno, Jr. (LT), James Daniels (LG), Cody Whitehair (C), Ifedi (RG) and Bobby Massie (RT).
Is Ifedi the answer? Is he the can't-miss fix? No. But he does have upside, and he'll have a chance to earn a lucrative second contract in Chicago if his first-round talent finally comes out.