Even after acquiring D.J. Moore, the Bears entered free agency with the NFL’s most cap space. But they stood down when it came to the top offensive linemen available.
Jawaan Taylor, Mike McGlinchey and Orlando Brown Jr. each signed for at least $16MM per year last week. The Bears could have obviously competed with the Chiefs, Broncos and Bengals for these blockers, but Ryan Poles‘ club did not. The team did try to land McGlinchey, however, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain confirming it was in on the new Broncos right tackle (subscription required).
As expected, McGlinchey landed a deal on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. The Broncos convinced the five-year 49ers right tackle to sign a five-year deal worth $87.5MM deal (fourth among right tackles), but McGlinchey did well to essentially secure three guaranteed years. His 2025 salary becomes fully guaranteed shortly after the 2024 league year begins, virtually locking in $52.5MM at signing. The Bears were not willing to go there, and the Broncos came from a place of desperation considering their track record at right tackle. Barring injury, McGlinchey will be Denver’s 11th Week 1 right tackle starter in 11 seasons.
Chicago pivoted from Larry Borom to Riley Reiff last season, but Reiff has since joined the Patriots on a one-year, $5MM deal. Reiff’s Pats pact includes $4.15MM guaranteed, per AtoZSports.com’s Doug Kyed (on Twitter). The deal includes up to $4MM in play-time incentives, Kyed adds. Borom would again be projected to start at right tackle, but the Bears will be connected to right-side options in the first round, The Athletic’s Adam Jahns adds.
This year’s draft includes top-10 tackle options Peter Skoronski, from nearby Northwestern, and Paris Johnson (Ohio State). The Bears have not drafted a tackle in Round 1 since Gabe Carimi in 2011, but Poles was with the Chiefs when they used the No. 1 overall pick on Eric Fisher two years later. With right tackle looking like the weak spot for Chicago up front, the team could use its No. 9 overall pick on one or trade down (again) to nab one of the other three first-round tackle prospects (Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison). Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock sends Johnson to Chicago.
On the interior, the Bears may be prepared to move Cody Whitehair to solve the guard logjam they created by Nate Davis‘ three-year, $30MM deal. Poles said Whitehair will be an option to move back to center, citing the seven-year veteran’s nearly 4,000 snaps at the position. Whitehair played center primarily to start his career, working as Chicago’s snapper over his first three seasons before moving to guard in 2019 to accommodate a James Daniels position switch.
Whitehair shifting to center would allow the Bears to have he, Davis and Teven Jenkins as interior starters. While Davis played right guard with the Titans, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs predicts Jenkins will stay at that position after showing considerable promise in 2022. Pro Football Focus rated Jenkins, whom the Bears tried at both tackle spots and dangled in trades last year, as the league’s No. 3 overall guard.