What the Bears Should do with their Current Offensive Linemen

The Bears had plenty of problems in 2022-23, and the offensive line sits on top of the list. Justin Fields was sacked 55 times this season, which was the most in the league. There were a lot of injuries that resulted in lots of movement along the line. However, there were still some bright spots and unexpected breakouts during the season. There were also some not-so-great performances. The question that comes up is what to do with the linemen. In this article, I’ll lay out some facts on cap hits and performance as well as what I believe the Bears should do.

Teven Jenkins
Jenkins was by far the best offensive lineman on the Bears this season. There was a fair share of confusion early in the season with Jenkins, after trade rumors surfaced and there was a supposed rocky relationship between Jenkins and coaches. However, they didn’t end up trading him and instead moved him from tackle to the guard position. Not only did he improve, he flourished. He was easily the best offensive lineman on the Bears, and it showed. He made the line better when he was playing. While he only played in 13 games and started in 11, he shined and kept Justin Fields clean. Even in a rocky rookie season, Jenkins showed passion and a desire to help his quarterback. Jenkins flipped his status from on the trade block to a blue-chip player on the line. He should be at guard in the season opener, no question.

Cody Whitehair
Cody Whitehair has been on the Bears for seven years and has played center and guard over his career. He was always a solid piece for the offensive line, playing well at any position. He was also dependable, missing only two games in his first six seasons. However, this season he missed five games and when he did play, he didn’t look like himself. He was easily beat and looked lost on the field. He certainly didn’t look like the Cody Whitehair of the past six seasons. If the Bears cut him (post-June first), they would save over 5 million dollars. While he has been a great player for the Bears, it might be time to let him go. It’s not the end of the world if they do keep him though. He might have just had a down year. However, it makes the most sense to cut him.

Braxton Jones
Braxton Jones was picked 168th overall(fifth round) out of Southern Utah in the 2022 NFL Draft. There wasn’t much hype coming out of the draft, but he impressed in training camp and practice and earned the starting tackle spot. He struggled at times but was overall a good addition to the line. He was also the only player on the entire Bears offense to play every single offensive snap. He played in all 1034 snaps for the Bear’s offense. He was also named to the Pro Football Writers Association(PFWA) all-rookie team. For a starting tackle, he was good. For a fifth-round tackle, he was incredible. There is no question that he has earned a starting tackle spot for the future.

Sam Mustipher
Sam Mustipher is an interesting player. On certain websites and analytic sites, he was rated as a top center in the game. However, his tape shows him being beaten by anyone and everyone. He was a promising player after being signed as a UDFA and starting at center. He has since declined and has been a weak spot on the offensive line. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, and while he could be kept, it would hopefully be as a depth piece. Lucas Patrick was signed to be the starting center over him, but injuries held him back. It would be the smart thing to do by letting him go.

Lucas Patrick
Lucas Patrick was signed to be the starting center over Mustipher in the offseason. He was signed to a two-year deal, so he has one left on his contract. He played his entire career in Green Bay before the Bears signed him, so he was projected to be a good fit. However, multiple injuries would keep him out of most of the season, as he played in only seven games. There hasn’t been much to judge him on due to this, but he looked decent when he made his lone start at center. He is already under contract, and it’s relatively inexpensive, so there wouldn’t be much harm in keeping him. He shouldn’t be the answer to the center position, but he would be a great mentor to a rookie or younger player brought in to eventually take over the spot.

Alex Leatherwood
Alex Leatherwood was claimed by the Bears in late August after the Las Vegas Raiders waived the former first-round pick. He was picked 17th overall in last year’s draft and started every game for the Raiders in his rookie year. He was not great, but it’s tough to start at tackle as a rookie. Leatherwood was also seen as more of a project coming into the draft. He has a lot of potential and could possibly benefit from a position change, like Teven Jenkins. He is under contract until 2025, so the Bears will have plenty of time to evaluate him and hopefully develop him into a starting guard or tackle.

Riley Reiff
Reiff was also signed this offseason to be the starting tackle. He started 10 games at tackle and played in 16. He was good enough, especially since the other options were Larry Borom and Alex Leatherwood. He will be looking for a new contract, and he could be kept as a depth piece. He is a good veteran to help possible rookie offensive linemen that the Bears draft. However, if he leaves it won’t be the end of the world.

Larry Borom
Borom had a good rookie season, after being selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he looked less capable of being a starter this season. He and Reiff were flipped throughout the season, with Reiff getting the heavier workload. Borom is another solid depth player that is under contract for a while still. There isn’t really any reason to get rid of him.

Ja’Tyre Carter
Carter was a seventh-round selection by the Bears in the 2022 draft. He really didn’t get any playing time, but he will most likely be on the roster heading into the 2023 season. He will probably be put on the practice squad once the season starts unless he can prove himself in training camp.
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