David Montgomery

Bears, Vikings Pursued David Montgomery; Lions Pivoted After Jamaal Williams Rejected Offer

While this year’s running back market did not produce a top-10 contract at the position, some interesting dominoes fell. Perhaps none more so than David Montgomery, who left the Bears to be the Lions’ Jamaal Williams replacement.

The Lions gave Montgomery a three-year, $18MM deal that includes $8.75MM fully guaranteed. The Bears wanted to retain their veteran starter, however, with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley indicating the team believed it made a competitive offer. It just was not enough to keep Montgomery in the Windy City, something GM Ryan Poles said he was interested in doing earlier this offseason.

Chicago’s offer did not include any guaranteed money beyond Year 1 of the deal, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Montgomery can collect $2.25MM in additional funds if he is on the Lions’ roster on Day 3 of the 2024 league year. Seeing as it would cost the Lions more than $6MM in dead money to cut Montgomery before that bonus date, it represents a good bet this will be at least a two-year partnership. Only Miles Sanders received more fully guaranteed money among running backs in free agency this year.

I would just kind of sum it up by saying players do have a choice,’’ Poles said of Montgomery’s decision, via Finley. ‘‘I thought we communicated well. I thought we negotiated well. At the same time, you don’t always know what’s going on in the background. But I thought we did a good job. We were transparent, we were organized and it just — it didn’t happen.”

Montgomery’s $6MM AAV matches the deal Williams played on from 2021-22. Williams said (via NewOrleans.football’s Mike Triplett) the Lions’ offer was disrespectful, leading him to the Saints on a three-year accord worth $12MM ($8.15MM fully guaranteed). The Lions did not pivot to Montgomery, 25, until Williams, 27, rejected their offer. Lions GM Brad Holmes said conversations with Williams’ agent at the Combine led him to believe the parties were closing in on another agreement.

From a budgeting and planning standpoint pre-free agency, we had an allotment of resources set aside, really for Jamaal,” Holmes said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “Didn’t really even really consider another running back higher than that amount of resources that we set aside for Jamaal. And business happens and that’s part of this business and it just didn’t work.

We tried, but when the market crystallized and it got to a point where David was in play, kind of within the range of resources that we had set aside, then that’s when we went ahead and went forward with David, which we’re extremely excited about.”

The Lions likely offered Williams a deal with similar terms as Montgomery’s, Biggs adds, pointing to the league’s 2022 rushing touchdown leader slightly miscalculating his market. The ex-Packers draftee still landed on his feet with the Saints, though his AAV is down compared to his Lions contract. Williams will move into position as Alvin Kamara insurance. Kamara could face a six-game suspension due to his February 2022 battery arrest.

As both NFC North teams believed they were on track to retain their starting backs, Biggs adds the Vikings also pursued Montgomery. It is unclear if Minnesota made Montgomery an offer, but this interest adds another layer to what has become an intriguing divisional backfield outlook. Dalvin Cook‘s seat remains uncertain, and multiple teams viewed the perennial Pro Bowler as available ahead of free agency. A day Montgomery committed to the Lions, the Vikings gave longtime Cook backup Alexander Mattison a two-year, $7MM deal that comes nearly fully guaranteed.

A day after Mattison’s agreement, the Bears gave D’Onta Foreman a one-year deal worth just $2MM ($1MM guaranteed). Foreman will team with Khalil Herbert in Chicago, though Biggs suggests the Bears adding to their backfield in the draft should not be ruled out. This intra-divisional shakeup involved the upper echelon of free agent backs, as the second wave at the position — from the Dolphins’ duo to Samaje Perine to Devin Singletary to Damien Harris — did not eclipse $3MM guaranteed. It will be interesting to see how the Bears and Lions fare with reshaped backfields.

Lions To Sign RB David Montgomery

The Lions are snagging a running back from a division rival. Detroit has agreed to terms with running back David Montgomery, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

Montgomery is signing a three-year deal worth $18MM, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The deal includes $11MM in guaranteed money, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

The former third-round running back was handed the full-time starting gig in 2020 and was more than productive, finishing with 1,508 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, with more than 400 of those yards coming via 54 receptions.

After topping 1,000 rushing yards during that 2020 campaign, Montgomery wasn’t able to eclipse that mark in 2021 nor 2022, averaging 825 rushing yards between those two seasons. Thanks to his receiving ability, he was still able to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the past two years, but his sub-4.0 yards per rush still left plenty to be desired.

In Detroit, Montgomery won’t necessarily be leading the traditional rushing attack, as the organization could still look to squeeze some production out of D’Andre Swift. Instead, it sounds like this signing could spell the end of Jamaal Williams‘s tenure in Detroit, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Earlier tonight, Tyler Dunne tweeted that Williams and the Lions were far apart on a deal.

The Bears gave former sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert a look last season, and there’s a chance the team continues to add to the position.

Bears GM Ryan Poles Wants RB David Montgomery To Return

We tackled the stock Bears running back David Montgomery holds as he heads into free agency about a month ago. A key concern in his situation focused on whether or not Chicago would want to bring Montgomery back. Earlier this week, Bears general manager Ryan Poles gave us the answer, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times.

Poles made it clear in a public forum that he has a desire to keep Montgomery in the Windy City. “I’ve always wanted to keep David,” Poles told reporters. “I love his mentality, how he plays the game. I told him that to his face. He’s part of the identity that we had this year that kept us competitive.”

That PDA is endearing and likely sits well with the fourth-year running back out of Iowa State, but it doesn’t put food on his table. Compliments alone are not going to convince Montgomery to keep the “C” on his helmet, and Poles is aware of that.

“The second part of that is just the contract situation,” the rookie GM continued. “That’s something that we’ll see how that goes and if we can find common ground. Obviously, I’ve learned that you can want a player, and the value’s got to come together for it to happen.”

The value is going to be crucial, and there are two factors to take into account when trying to determine where Montgomery’s value falls. The first is current roster. Behind only quarterback Justin Herbert, Montgomery was second on the team in rushing yards, leading all running backs in Chicago. While that seems like a plus for Montgomery, it’s likely only the result of second-year running back Khalil Herbert missing three more games than Montgomery. Despite Montgomery outgaining Herbert 801 rushing yards to 731, Herbert averaged a higher rushing yards per game with 56.2 YPG compared to Montgomery’s 50.1. The benefit in performance comparison is that Montgomery is clearly the team’s preferred receiving back after hauling in 34 passes for 316 yards compared to Herbert, who was next closest for running backs with nine catches for 57 yards.

The second factor is going to be competition. This offseason’s free agent running back class is going to be stacked with talent. Montgomery will be competing for a new contract with the likes of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, and others. The plethora of options has the potential to saturate the market for running backs, leading to smaller contracts. If Montgomery wants to return to Chicago, though, he’ll hold the advantage over the others due to his familiarity with the franchise.

Statistically compared to recent contracts, Montgomery matches up closest with a player like Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette recently signed a three-year, $21MM deal after a contract year that looks vaguely similar to what Montgomery did this season. There are two factors in Montgomery’s favor, though. Montgomery doesn’t have the significant injury history that Fournette does, and Montgomery has been far more consistent with his production year in, year out. This could point to either a three-year deal with a slightly larger average annual value or a similar annual amount with another year tacked on. If Montgomery were in a vacuum, he would likely demand something like a three-year, $24MM contract or a four-year, $28MM deal.

If Montgomery finds his way back to Chicago, it will probably not be that steep of a payday. He may find that he can earn more money by taking a team-friendly deal with the only team he’s known so far, but with the emergence of Herbert, Montgomery won’t be able to demand top dollar value. It will be up to Poles and Montgomery to reach an agreement on value. If it helps, I hear Poles is “a big David Montgomery fan.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: David Montgomery

Bears running back David Montgomery will soon experience the challenges of a free agent running back in today’s NFL. A third-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Montgomery is currently in a contract year for a team that may not have reason to commit to him long-term. The final few games of the season could determine how the next stage of Montgomery’s career plays out.

Montgomery entered this season as the Bears’ No. 1 running back with backup Khalil Herbert providing the team with a strong secondary option. Montgomery had produced two strong seasons to kick off his career. As a rookie starting eight games, Montgomery racked up 889 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, adding 185 yards and a touchdown through the air as a receiving back. In his sophomore season, Montgomery showed a ton of promise, rushing for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 54 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

Last year, Chicago drafted Herbert in the sixth-round to supplement their rushing attack. Montgomery’s production slipped a bit as Herbert shared some of the offense, but he still produced 849 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns and showed he was the top receiving back with 301 yards on 42 catches. Herbert got his opportunities, though, and contributed 433 rushing yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

This year the story has changed a little bit. Despite the fact that, coming into today’s game, Montgomery had started all but one game and appeared in two more games than Herbert, who had missed the team’s last three games with a hip injury, Montgomery trailed Herbert by two rushing yards. Montgomery plays about 67% of the Bears’ offensive snaps on average, while Herbert averages around 37%. Still, until today’s loss against the Eagles, the backup running back, Herbert, was outgaining the starting running back, Montgomery, with an average rushing yards per game of 64.3 to 53.4. Montgomery has maintained his role as the team’s top receiving back this season.

After sitting out of his fourth straight game today, Herbert is set to return next week to help Chicago in its last three games of the regular season. Montgomery will have a bit of an added challenge in the final few games of the season to show his worth to the Bears offense with his more-productive teammate back in the lineup. At 3-11, already eliminated from postseason contention, Montgomery will only have the final three games of the regular season to make his case.

If Montgomery hits free agency, he will join a stacked free agent class of running backs. After his fifth-year option was declined, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will be a free agent this offseason. Barring any new extensions before the end of the season, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Eagles running back Miles Sanders, and Cowboys running back Tony Pollard will all join Montgomery and Jacobs on the free agent market. Additionally, key contributors in Browns running back Kareem Hunt, Lions running back Jamaal Williams, Bills running back Devin Singletary, and Patriots running back Damien Harris will all hit free agency, as well. Even a score of reliable backups will be available in Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison, Cincinnati’s Samaje Perine, New York’s James Robinson, Miami’s Raheem Mostert, and Carolina’s D’Onta Foreman.

Needless to say, Montgomery will have a ton of competition in the free agent market. Regardless of the competition, what would a deal with Montgomery look like? Realistically, these days, for a running back that isn’t a super star, a three-year deal is standard. Star backs are set to earn around $14MM to $16MM per year, perhaps more if a suitor wants to set the market high for a free agent target. Strong starters will earn around $10MM to $13MM and second-tier backs will be in the range of about $6MM to $8MM.

Statistically compared to recent contracts, Montgomery matches up closest with a player like Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette recently signed a three-year, $21MM deal after a contract year that could look vaguely similar to what Montgomery is projected to do this year. There are two factors in Montgomery’s favor, though. Montgomery doesn’t have the significant injury history that Fournette does, and Montgomery has been far more consistent with his production year in, year out. This could point to either a three-year deal with a slightly larger average annual value or a similar annual amount with another year tacked on. If Montgomery were in a vacuum, he would likely demand something like a three-year, $24MM contract or a four-year, $28MM deal.

Unfortunately for Montgomery, he is not in a vacuum. With the excessive amount of competition he will face in the free agent market, Montgomery’s value may be diluted. It will be hard to convince a team to shell out big money for Montgomery if they can just sign a lesser deal to one of many options. This may lead Montgomery to seek a team-friendly deal in order to stay in Chicago. With the existing connection and chemistry, Montgomery may be able to get more value out of his current team than he would testing the markets.

Taking all of this into account, Montgomery still will likely earn a three-year contract, possibly even four- with his superior durability. In a diluted market or in a team friendly deal, I could see Montgomery signing with an average annual value of $6MM or $7MM. It would make sense to see Montgomery end up with a three-year, $19.5MM or four-year, $24MM deal this offseason. Whether he wants to stand pat in Chicago or test the free agent waters, Montgomery will have three more games to show what he’s worth.

Bears To Wait On Extension For RB David Montgomery?

Roquan Smith is not the only contract matter facing the Bears. They have their fourth-year starting running back, David Montgomery, also entering a walk year.

The Bears are being patient regarding a Montgomery extension, with Dan Graziano of ESPN.com noting the team should be expected to see how the veteran back looks in Chicago’s system before determining if it will go forward with a second contract. This is in line with how other teams are proceeding with backs from the 2019 draft class, which has seen teams operate with less urgency compared to the more talented 2017 contingent.

The primary Chicago starter since going in the 2019 third round, Montgomery has one 1,000-yard season (2020) and two 800-plus-yard campaigns. Helping the 2020 Bears to the playoffs, Montgomery reached 1,508 scrimmage yards that season. He notched 308 receiving yards in 2021 and will now transition to Luke Getsy‘s offense. Next Gen Stats rated Montgomery as below average in terms of rushing yards over expected (minus-26) last season, but he also rated 10th in rushing yards after first contact in 2021.

[RELATED: Assessing Montgomery’s Extension Candidacy]

Chicago’s rebuild is set to usher in a new-look offensive line. Entering the preseason slate, the team is preparing to go with fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones and 12th-year veteran Riley Reiff at tackle. Newcomers are also expected to be starters at center (Lucas Patrick) and right guard (Michael Schofield). Left guard Cody Whitehair may well be the only holdover for the Bears, who have a new head coach and general manager in place. The staff turnover also clouds Montgomery’s future.

Multiple teams’ retention efforts this offseason did create a middle class of sorts at running back. The Cardinals and Buccaneers, respectively, signed James Conner and Leonard Fournette to three-year, $21MM deals. A significant gap exists between the top tier — populated largely by 2017 running back draftees — and that duo. Among veteran contracts, no running back is earning between $7-$12MM per year. With a solid season, Montgomery could be a candidate to bridge that gap. Of course, others reside in that space as well.

The Bears have Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney tied to rookie deals, and their defense — regardless of what happens with Smith — does not have many high-end contracts. But it is unclear how Poles and Co. will value the running back position. A few teams have starter- or starter-caliber backs on the early track for free agency in 2023. Saquon BarkleyKareem Hunt, and 2019 draftees Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, Damien Harris and Devin Singletary are unsigned beyond 2022. While it cannot be assumed all will be available, this setup could create a crowded market for backs next year.

Extension Candidate: David Montgomery

In recent years, a select number of running backs have received sizeable second contracts. Given his performances early in his career, and his importance to the Bears’ offense, David Montgomery could be the next in line for a new deal.

The 25-year-old had a productive college career at Iowa State. In his final two years in particular, he took on a heavy workload, ranking second and first in the Big 12 in carries in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He put up similar numbers across his sophomore and junior campaigns, totalling 2,362 rushing yards, an additional 453 yards through the air and 24 touchdowns.

That production made him one of the highest-rated backs in the 2019 draft class. He was firmly on Chicago’s radar, and the Bears traded up to N0. 73 to select him. As a result of the Khalil Mack trade, Montgomery represented the team’s top pick that year, something which heightened expectations as he entered the league. During that offseason, the Bears traded away Jordan Howard and signed Mike Davis, teaming the veteran with Tarik Cohen

Montgomery spent his rookie season splitting snaps with latter in particular. He was still able to start eight games and total over 1,000 scrimmage yards, however. That made it an easy transition for him to take over as a workhorse back in 2020, when Cohen began experiencing the injury troubles which limited him to three games that year, and cost him the entire 2021 campaign. Montgomery had the best season of his career to date, ranking fifth in the NFL with 1,070 rushing yards.

Having demonstrated his abilities both on the ground and in the passing game, expectations were once again high for the five-foot-eleven, 224-pounder heading into 2021. The Bears’ offense still featured Allen Robinson and was in line for a significant change at quarterback, with the team having drafted Justin Fields. Those two never generated the chemistry many were expecting, though, leaving Montgomery as the team’s top offensive weapon once again. He was limited to 13 games due to a knee injury, but still managed to record 1,150 scrimmage yards and score seven touchdowns.

In part because of Montgomery’s production on one hand, and the decided lack of consistently effective players around him on the other, he has accounted for nearly one-quarter of the Bears’ offense during his career. That figure ranks seventh in the league across that span, leaving him (especially in the absence of Robinson, who signed with the Rams in free agency) as the undisputed focal point of Chicago’s attack.

How much the team’s front office – now led by general manager Ryan Poles – is willing to pay him, knowing that fact, becomes a central question. In the absence of an extension being signed this summer, much will depend, of course, on his level of play in 2022 under new head coach Matt Eberflus. Fields is now the unquestioned starter, and is understandably expected to take a significant step forward. As for the backfield, Montgomery will be supported by 2021 sixth-rounder Khalil Herbert (who impressed in his rookie season) and, in all likelihood, Trestan Ebnerwhom the team drafted this April.

From a financial standpoint, the running back position has seen a notable upward trend in recent years. A total of eight backs are now under contract for at least $12MM per season, from 2016 draftees Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry to, most recently, Nick Chubb. Given his production, Montgomery may be the likeliest candidate for an extension amongst members of the 2019 class (the other most notable ones being Josh Jacobs, who had his fifth-year option declined by the Raiders, and Miles Sanders, who hasn’t been given as large of a workload by the Eagles).

On the final year of his rookie contract, Montgomery will earn a base salary of $2.8MM, while carrying a slightly higher cap hit. The rebuilding Bears rank third in the league in cap space right now, and first in projected space for 2023, so affording even an above-market extension likely wouldn’t be problematic. As detailed by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, Montgomery isn’t focusing on his financial future heading into his contract year, however.

“At the end of the day, whether I’m going into my second year or my first year, I’ve still got to play football,” he said. “I could really care less about contracts, the contract terms and things, but I’m excited to be here for another year and play with my guys too.”

Bears Activate David Montgomery

The Bears have activated David Montgomery, per an official club announcement. He’ll return from the injured reserve list just in time to face the Steelers tonight in Pittsburgh. 

This is good, but expected news for the Bears. Head coach Matt Nagy said last week there was a good chance that Montgomery could return this week, marking his first action since Week 4.

Montgomery, 24, tallied 309 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns up until his injury, plus six catches for 49 yards. After his career year in 2020 — 1,070 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs — he should provide a boost for the Bears’ offense tonight. They enter the national TV matchup on a three-game losing streak, with their most recent L coming against the 49ers.

Breshad Perriman won’t be on hand, however. The wide receiver was dropped over the weekend, taking him off the roster without ever having played a down for Chicago.

Bears’ David Montgomery Returns To Practice

The Bears have designated David Montgomery for return from injured reserve, per a club announcement. This move kicks off a 21-day window for the Bears to activate the running back. If he’s not restored to the roster in the next three weeks, he will be ineligible to return in 2021. 

Montgomery was placed on IR with an MCL sprain in Week 4. To date, he has registered 309 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, plus six catches for 49 yards. The Bears were expected to lean on ex-Kansas City starter Damien Williams in his stead, but they’ve gotten more production out of sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert. To date, he has 351 yards (and a touchdown) off of 81 carries, with the bulk of those yards coming in the last three games. That includes 5.0+ yards per carry against the Packers and the Bucs.

Montgomery, 24, is coming off of his best season to date. In 2020, he tallied 1,070 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs, good for 4.3 yards per carry. If he’s ready in time, he could make his ’21 debut against the Steelers on Monday night.

Bears Move David Montgomery To IR, Activate Danny Trevathan

While the Bears moved their starting running back off their active roster Saturday, they received some good defensive news. The Bears activated Danny Trevathan off IR, putting the veteran linebacker in position to make his season debut in Week 5.

Trevathan will take David Montgomery‘s roster spot. Montgomery will miss at least Chicago’s next three games, and a more extended absence is expected. The third-year Bears starting running back is not believed to be out for the season — at least, not at this juncture — but the team will need to get by with a different backfield plan.

Chicago added ex-Kansas City starter Damien Williams this offseason. He should be expected to shoulder the brunt of the running back work in Montgomery’s absence. A career backup who saw Kareem Hunt‘s abrupt Chiefs departure change his career trajectory, Williams has managed to be an impact back without a considerable workload. In two Kansas City playoff slates, Williams totaled 10 touchdowns. Yet, he has just 310 career carries despite being in his age-29 season. Williams opted out of the 2020 campaign, leading him to the Bears.

Trevathan, 31, has been with the Bears since 2016. A knee injury during training camp sidelined the 10th-year linebacker, but Trevathan returned to practice last week. His presence alongside Roquan Smith stands to strengthen Chicago’s defense, which enters Week 5 10th in points allowed.

Bears’ David Montgomery To Miss Time

The Bears will be without David Montgomery for a while (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The running back’s knee injury isn’t a season ender, but it’s expected to cost him several weeks. 

Montgomery could return sometime around Week 10 — the Bears’ bye week. It’s unfortunate timing, especially on the heels of his second 100-yard game. Montgomery opened the year with 108 yards against the Rams and, on Sunday, put up 106 yards against Detroit. All in all, he has 309 yards and three touchdowns on the ground plus six grabs for 49 yards.

Ultimately, the injury is not as bad as it first appeared. Montgomery was down for a while after hurting his knee in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off of the field. And, historically, he’s been pretty resilient. Despite bumps and bruises, Montgomery missed just one game between 2019 and 2020.

In the meantime, that leaves the Bears with Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert as their lone RBs. Practice squader Ryan Nall could get called up, but the Bears may also want to explore some out-of-house options.