Coach John Fox recently intimated that the Chicago Bears have further work to do on the offensive line, a unit that already underwent a mini-overhaul with the arrival of right tackle Bobby Massie and corresponding placement of Kyle Long back at right guard.
“We need depth,” Fox said at the NFL owners meetings, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “We need a swing guy. We’ll probably address that shortly in the latter part of free agency.”
A reserve lineman with positional versatility is key on game day because NFL teams prefer to dress only seven at that spot.
As it stands now, Chicago has several backup tackles on the offseason roster -- Tayo Fabuluje, Nick Becton, Martin Wallace and Jason Weaver -- although none have significant offensive in-game experience. Weaver does have that coveted positional versatility -- the club’s official website lists him as guard/tackle.
The Bears released their top backup offensive tackle from last year, Jermon Bushrod, who ultimately followed former offensive coordinator Adam Gase to Miami. Bushrod signed a one-year deal with $985,000 guaranteed, virtually assuring him of a spot on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster, barring injury.
Patrick Omameh, 26, who started nine games at guard in 2015, previously played some tackle in Tampa, but is currently a free agent.
The group of free-agent tackles is mostly picked over, but a handful of ex-starters remain out of work. The familiar names in that group include William Beatty (New York Giants), Khalif Barnes (Oakland Raiders), Jake Long (Atlanta Falcons) and Nate Chandler (Carolina Panthers).
The Bears certainly want to avoid paying too much money for a swing guy, but the team still has more than $20 million in remaining salary cap space.