Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery is entering just his second season in the league, and after a rookie year that included the usual ups and downs from a first-year player, the expectations are much higher for Year 2.
Montgomery ended last season with 889 yards and six touchdowns, but his 3.7 yards per carry left a bit to be desired. He ran hard; he ran determined. But in today's NFL, sub-900 yards just isn't good enough.
If he has another season with production like that, it could be his last in Chicago. Sure, that seems harsh. But take a look at the running backs who will be available in next year's free-agent market:
The free agent RB class of 2021 is currently loaded: Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, Kenyan Drake, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, James Conner, Matt Breida, Philip Lindsay, Kareem Hunt, James White, Tarik Cohen, Marlon Mack and more. https://t.co/dmH8GPnv1F— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 14, 2020
And it doesn't stop there. The 2021 NFL draft will provide teams looking to upgrade at running back with some pretty good options:
And so is the RB draft class of 2021. Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, Chuba Hubbard, Trey Sirmon, Brian Robinson, Rakeem Boyd, B.J. Emmons, Elijah Mitchell, Larry Rountree, Chris Evans, Trey Ragas... https://t.co/uFKa4vuRz1— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 14, 2020
Montgomery will run behind an improved offensive line in 2020 with the addition of Germain Ifedi and the coaching upgrade through Juan Castillo. The quarterback play should be improved, too, even if Mitch Trubisky wins the job. The presence of Nick Foles will force him to bring his A-game every week. Those two factors will create bigger running lanes and a greater likelihood Montgomery will find his way to the second level of opposing defenses.
But if he doesn't? The Bears won't be hurting for options to replace him.