Unfortunate news hit the wire Tuesday night. Free agent running back David Montgomery reportedly agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions on a 3 year, $18 million deal, with $11 million guaranteed. Montgomery leaves the Bears with a hole at RB, specifically a RB who can run between the tackles and be great at both blocking and catching on pass plays. And throughout the first 3 days of free agency, many running backs have flown off the market. So what do the Bears do now at the position?
What they have:
Firstly, the Bears still have Khalil Herbert, a rushing yards over expected monster. Herbert has proven to be the better outside zone runner, much faster and agile than Montgomery. But he has struggled mightily in pass protection, hasn’t quite become a threat in the passing game outside an occasional screen, and isn’t the best between the tackles runner. The Bears need to complement him; it won’t be quite the thunder/lightning duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, but they can make it just as efficient.
Also on the roster is Trestan Ebner. The 6th round pick from Baylor didn’t get much run last season, but he looked very slow when he did get the chance. He shouldn’t project higher than RB4, though it’s worth mentioning Lastly, the Bears signed Travis Homer to a 2 year deal worth $5 million after the Montgomery news broke. Homer projects as a change-of-pace RB3 or RB4, who will do a lot of work on special teams (his best highlight is a 70 yard TD run on a fake punt). He isn’t exactly a complement to Herbert though. He had just 35 touches last year, even with the injury to Rashaad Penny in Seattle.
Who is already taken:
Most top RBs have already signed. This includes Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard getting the tag, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson staying in Miami, and Rashaad Penny, Miles Sanders, Jamaal Williams, and the aforementioned Montgomery signing with new teams.
What will the Bears do with the available talent:
With Sanders and Penny off the board, I don’t think the Bears will sign one of the RBs who expects to be a starter and has more mileage on their legs. That probably rules out Ezekiel Elliot, Kareem Hunt, or Leonard Fournette I think they’ll sign a lower tier RB who can excel with a larger role. Alexander Mattison could be a target, as could D’Onta Foreman, Jerrick McKinnon, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary. Then they could take a RB like Tyjae Spears or Chase Brown or Evan Hull on day 3.
However, the Bears could also go the opposite route: another Homer-esque signing, then draft a RB on day 2. D’Ernest Johnson, James Robinson, Justin Jackson, Dontrell Hilliard, or Chase Edmonds could be had for about the minimum. On day 2, assuming Bijan Robinson goes round 1, the Bears could go for Jahmyr Gibbs, Devon Achane, Kendre Miller, or Kenny McIntosh.
It’ll simply depend on what other free agents Ryan Poles is able to sign now, leaving the other needs for the draft. Same goes for OT and DL after the other signings at LB and IOL.
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