Bears

Should the Bears sign free agent running back Devonta Freeman?

Should the Bears sign free agent running back Devonta Freeman?

Former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman remains unsigned after being released earlier this offseason following a 2019 season that totaled 14 games and a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.

Freeman, who earned back-to-back trips to the Pro Bowl in 2015-16, was at one time considered one of the NFL's top dual-threat running backs. His best season came in 2015 when he ran for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding another 578 yards and three scores as a receiver. In 2016, he ran for a career-best 1,079 yards and 11 scores.

Injuries derailed what was a promising start to his career. He hasn't played a full 16 games in any of the last three years and in 2018, he missed 14 games with foot and groin injuries. 

Are Freeman's best days behind him? Maybe. Running backs tend to decline the closer they get to 30 years old, and at 28, Freeman is inching closer to the end of his career than its beginning. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have value for a team like the Bears, who lack any semblance of depth behind starter David Montgomery.

Chicago's running back depth chart is void of any real NFL talent behind Montgomery and Tarik Cohen, and let's face it, Cohen is more of a satellite weapon than he is a true running back.

So what's stopping the Bears from pursuing Freeman? Money.

Freeman is holding out for a reasonable payday that, apparently, involves demands beyond what the Seahawks offered in May (one-year, $4 million). The Bears, who still have in-house business to take care of, including an extension for wide receiver Allen Robinson, aren't going to offer Freeman a contract in that range. And they shouldn't. Montgomery is the unquestioned starter and that won't change even if a player like Freeman is added. As a result, he'll get a contract consistent with what's paid to a backup with starter's upside.

Remember: Freeman signed a five-year, $41.2 million extension with the Falcons in 2017, and like most players who believe they still have a lot left in the tank, he doesn't appear willing to lower his value by such an extreme amount.

Still, the market will determine Freeman's next deal. And if he's still hanging around and unsigned as training camp approaches, the Bears could find themselves in a favorable position to land an extremely talented running back at a mega-discount.

Chicago's offense will hinge on how productive the running game is in 2020. It would make sense to improve its chances of success by adding more talent. Freeman could be that guy, at the right price.

Charles Leno, Bobby Massie left off of PFF's top offensive tackles list

Charles Leno, Bobby Massie left off of PFF's top offensive tackles list

It's really hard to find one quality starting offensive tackle in the NFL, let alone two. Whether either of the Bears' starting tackles qualifies as a quality player is up for debate, but both Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie are, at the very least, competent starters in the league.

According to the analytics team at Pro Football Focus, neither Leno nor Massie ranks as a top-25 player at their position, however. Both Bears starters were left off of PFF's new list of the game's 25 best blindside protectors, one that included Giants rookie first-round pick, Andrew Thomas.

Massie was the Bears' 11th highest-graded player on offense in 2020, finishing the season with a 63.2 grade from PFF. It was the worst season score Massie's received in his career. As for Leno, he finished 2019 with a 58.6, which was his worst mark since his rookie season (53.6).

Massie was PFF's 65th overall tackle last year, while Leno was 87th. It's easy to see why they were left off the list.

The NFC North wasn't entirely blanked. David Bakhtiari (Packers) ranked third overall, while Taylor Decker (Lions) was 23rd.

Bears guard James Daniels looks primed for a breakout season in 2020

Bears guard James Daniels looks primed for a breakout season in 2020

Looks can often be deceiving, but in the case of Bears left guard James Daniels, his physical transformation this offseason has him looking like a player ready to breakout. 

Check it out:

Daniels will enter his third season in the league after being a second-round pick out of Iowa in 2018. Originally pegged as a center, Daniels has settled in at guard while Cody Whitehair returned to his best fit in the middle of the o-line.

Daniels owned the Bears' third-highest grade on offense from Pro Football Focus in 2019 (69.9) after logging 508 snaps at center and 561 at guard. His switch to left guard occurred in Week 10 and his uptick in performance was obvious. 

Chicago will have one new starter upfront this year, with Germain Ifedi expected to take hold of the right guard job. He should be a fine replacement for Kyle Long (and Rashaad Coward), but it's Daniels who has a chance to emerge as the Bears' best offensive lineman if his physical condition is any indication of the year that's in store.