David Montgomery isn’t about to let strangers put words in his mouth.
Montgomery is set to become the Chicago Bears’ most high-profile free agent in their 2023 class, leaving many to wonder whether the team will decide to reinvest in its star running back this offseason and how much it might cost to bring him back for next season. Some people, however, have taken the speculation too far for his liking.
After Bleacher Nation posted a story with the headline “Sounds Like David Montgomery Is Seeking a Much Larger Contract Than the Bears Are Willing to Offer” that suggested he is seeking $12 million annually on his next deal, the 25-year-old took to Twitter directly to call them out about his alleged asking price in free agency.
“The s*** people pull out of their a**,” Montgomery tweeted. “Next time you talk to ‘David Montgomery,’ let me know.”
What is Montgomery’s Projected Market Value in 2023?
Make no mistake, Montgomery is going to be seeking a significant pay raise on his next NFL contract regardless of whether he stays in Chicago. He has averaged a little more than 900 rushing yards in each of his four seasons with the Bears and scored a total of 30 touchdowns — four receiving — over the course of his career, making him a viable option for any team looking to sign a quality lead back in 2023 free agency.
According to Spotrac’s calculated market value, though, Montgomery is projected to have an average annual value of about $7.2 million on his next contract, which would put him in roughly the same earnings bracket as Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette and Arizona’s James Conner. That’s far less than the $12 million annually that both Bleacher Nation and 670 The Score have argued Montgomery could be seeking in 2023.
Part of what could drive Montgomery’s overall price down is his competition in free agency. He is up against top-of-market options such as New York’s Saquon Barkley and Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs, both of whom Spotrac projects will be worth at least $12 million annually on their next contracts. There are also some minor injury questions for buyers to consider with Montgomery, who has missed five games over the past two seasons.
Will the Bears try to lock up him before he hits the open market in mid-March, though?
Bears ‘Love’ Montgomery, But Will They Pay Him?
Bears general manager Ryan Poles was asked about Montgomery’s impending free agency during his end-of-season press conference back in early January and didn’t shy away from saying he would like to see him stay with the Bears … if the value is right.
“I’ve always wanted to keep David,” Poles said. “I love his mentality, how he plays the game. I told him that to his face. He’s part of the identity that we had this year that kept us competitive. Now, the second part of that is just the contract situation. That’s something that we’ll see how that goes and if we can find common ground. Obviously, I’ve learned that you can want a player and the value’s got to come together for it to happen. I love the way he attacked this season. That’s a guy that does everything right. You all watched his tenacity, his fight. I’m a big David Montgomery fan.”
The key phrase there is: “The value’s got to come together for it to happen.” Nobody has reported anything beyond speculation about what Montgomery might be looking to get paid, and his tweet seems to indicate that $12 million annually isn’t in his plans, but what are the Bears looking to invest in the running back position?
According to Over the Cap, they have about $92 million in effective cap space for the 2023 season and could certainly afford to pay a premium for a rusher, but they also have Khalil Herbert and Trestan Ebner on rookie contracts and far greater needs across the board for next year’s roster. Perhaps, at this stage of the rebuild, the Bears would rather roll with the two backs they have or invest another Day 3 pick into a third one.
Then again, if the Bears and Montgomery can agree on a value, it could be even more useful to retain a familiar weapon for Justin Fields and the offense heading into 2023.