David Montgomery is one of the best young players on the Chicago Bears‘ roster and one of the team’s top offensive weapons.
Some think this makes him an attractive trade chip, while others, including many fans, think it makes him worthy of a hefty contract extension. Montgomery turns 25 in June and is entering the final year of his four-year, $4,015,380 rookie deal.
He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, and the Bears have the option of extending him before that time comes — or they could wait and try to match any other offers he might get in free agency. The franchise tag is also possible.
Spotrac has the young running back’s market value projected at $12.9 million per year, and salary cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus told Windy City Gridiron’s
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport is among those who feel Chicago should trade the talented rusher, and he came up with a proposal that would send Montgomery to the Houston Texans in exchange for two draft picks.
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Trade Proposal Sends Montgomery to Texans for Multiple 4th Rounders
Montgomery was ninth in the NFL in carries last season with 225, and he has quietly become one of the more bruising and dominant backs in the game. He averaged 2.53 yards after contact last year per PFF, forcing 38 missed tackles. He also had 21 runs of 10 or more yards last year despite missing four games as he battled through knee, shoulder and groin issues.
He finished with 849 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns last year, which came on the heels of his 1,070-yard, eight-TD season the year prior.
Davenport thinks Montgomery’s value might be too high for Chicago to compensate, and he proposed a trade sending him to a running back-needy AFC team: He has the Bears receiving a pair of 2022 fourth-round picks (No. 107 and No. 108 overall) in exchange for Montgomery and the Bears’ 2022 fifth-round pick (No. 148 overall).
“The Bears are facing a difficult decision in 2022. David Montgomery has become a capable every-down NFL back,” Davenport noted. “Montgomery is also heading into a contract year, and a rebuilding Bears team isn’t going to want to pay Montgomery the kind of annual salary he’s likely going to seek in a new contract.”
Would two fourth-round picks be enough for Monty’s services? That’s certainly debatable, but it does feel a tad low. There’s also very little chance Chicago would part ways with its fifth-round selection this year.
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Could Khalil Herbert Be a Factor?
Davenport also thinks the Bears could tag Montgomery, but might rather get some much-needed draft capital considering they have just six picks in the upcoming draft.
“The franchise tag in 2023 is a possibility,” Davenport wrote. “But the Bears could also look to move Montgomery to gain draft picks in a year in which the team doesn’t have many.”
He also thinks second-year running back Khalil Herbert’s standout rookie season could factor into the team’s decision-making when it comes to trading Montgomery.
“A pair of picks early in Round 4 may not appear to be much of a return for Montgomery, and the Bears might be able to goose that to a third-rounder,” Davenport added. “But running back just isn’t a highly valued position in today’s NFL.”
Herbert averaged 4.2 yards on 103 carries in his limited opportunities filling in for Montgomery last year, finishing with 529 all-purpose yards and two scores playing just 28% of the team’s offensive snaps.
While Herbert is an intriguing young back and a potential successor should Chicago move on from Montgomery in 2023, it seems likelier the Bears will explore the 1-2 punch of Montgomery and Herbert in the backfield as opposed to trading the elder back away.
We’ll see what happens, but keeping both backs around could be a big boost for the offense and give QB Justin Fields two capable weapons out of the backfield.