The Chicago Bears’ offensive line is going to look different to start 2018, but the changes might not be what some would have expected when the team wrapped up the 2017 season.
It looks like the Bears will be standing pat at right tackle with Bobby Massie returning for his third season with the team, writes JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago.
Massie hasn’t been spectacular during his two-year stint in Chicago, but has been steady (Pro Football Focus grades of 71.9, 69.9) and reliable (missing just two games) at a position that could use some stability. If the Bears were to move on from Massie, they would save $5.6 million in cap space, but would ensure the team working with its fourth different Week 1 starter at right tackle in four years.
This isn’t to say the Bears won’t explore free agent options that could create some competition at training camp. Because ideally, solidifying the offensive line tasked with protecting Mitch Trubisky should be as much of a priority as adding weapons on the outside. With that in mind, Stankevitz lays out some options who could provide different fits for the offense moving forward.
The Bears could shop at the top of the market and target Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, an option we explored recently as a replacement for Josh Sitton.
Chris Hubbard of the Steelers could provide a younger alternative with starting experience. Hubbard has started 14 of the 40 games he has appeared in with Pittsburgh and is three years younger than Massie, who will be 29 when the regular season begins. Hubbard also popped up as a possible Bears target in PFF’s offseason free agency preview.
Elsewhere on the line, we’ve discussed Zach Fulton as a possible fit after the team parted ways with Sitton and explored the concept of Fulton as the team’s starting center in this profile. Josh Kline (Titans) and Justin Pugh (Giants) could also be targets, though both have their limitations. Senio Kelemete, who crossed paths with Bears GM Ryan Pace while in New Orleans, has experience at all five positions on the line and could provide the kind of depth option the unit lacked last season.
Piecing together an offensive line that can protect Trubisky and clear holes for Jordan Howard is a challenge the Bears didn’t have to take on last offseason. The team was bringing back all five starters in the same spot and projected to be one of the league’s best groups. Instead, injuries tripped up the unit all season and was among one of the top reasons the offense never took off as expected. Addressing those issues the right way could go a long way toward getting the offense out of its rut.