I believe Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times had it first, friends and neighbors. Nice job, Sean. The Chicago Bears nailed down their second free agent signing on Tuesday, inking former Saints’ LT Jermon Bushrod to a five-year deal. The team has not confirmed the news but are expected to soon.
Bushrod had direct connections to Bears’ new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Aaron Kromer, who coached Bushrod in New Orleans and helped him to two Pro Bowls in 2011 and 2012. Bushrod has started all 16 games in each of his last three seasons at left tackle for the Saints and was highly coveted by his own team this offseason.
He is by no means an elite tackle, but there are very few of those in the NFL. He is, if nothing else, an upgrade on the left side for Chicago. But by how much? And maybe more importantly, for how much?
Pro Football Focus ranked Bushrod their sixth-rated free agent tackle but called him “serviceable if you either accept his inconsistencies or have the right leadership and coaching staff around him.”
What will be interesting to see is if what the Bears paid to coax him, $39.965M ($17.715M guaranteed), proves worth it. At 28 (29 in August) and coming off a slumping season, overpaying could be a questionable move in a year when the Draft is believed to be deep with offensive lineman. Because while that is not a sure-fire bet either, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper way to find out.
Now the question becomes what happens with the other tackles on the roster. It’s possible that the Bears could move J’Marcus Webb to right tackle and re-sign Jonathan Scott to compete as their swing with either someone new or Gabe Carimi, who struggled at tackle due to injury.
Carimi could also be moved over to guard, where he improved his play toward the end of 2012. All remains to be seen.
Only time will tell if it was the right move to make, but there is no doubt that the Bears improved their offensive line with the addition.
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