Bears Pursuing 8x Pro Bowl Offensive Lineman: Report

Trent Williams

Getty OL Trent Williams

The NFL’s legal tampering window opened Monday, and with it, a slew of rumored meetings, new deals and potential signings began to fly around the league like a swarm of crazed hornets. Amidst all the chaos, a surprising report came out of Chicago from one of the Bears’ top insiders.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, who is routinely breaking news relating to the team, revealed the following Monday afternoon: “Multiple NFL sources tell the Tribune that the Bears have at least inquired about what it will take to sign left tackle Trent Williams, who some believed was the No. 1 free agent entering the negotiating window.”

We all know the Bears need some major help on their o-line, but with the pipe dream of acquiring Russell Wilson still technically alive, how could they afford Williams and still get a franchise quarterback? Let’s dive in to what it all means.

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Biggs: Bears Need to Do ‘Heavy Lifting’ if They Want Williams

Here’s what Biggs had to say about Chicago’s interest in Williams, as well as who else may be looking to sign the eight-time Pro Bowler:

The Bears would need to do heavy lifting in order to create space to sign Williams, who turns 33 in July. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection was an elite performer for the San Francisco 49ers last season after sitting out the 2019 season with injuries and in a dispute with the Washington Football Team. The 49ers are believed to be attempting to re-sign Williams and he is drawing interest from other clubs, with the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs linked to him. The reduced salary cap this season at $182.5 million is not going to affect players like Williams, who will be seeking to be at or near the top of play for his position.

It’s likely that the Bears are simply doing their due diligence here. Williams is the top available offensive lineman this offseason, and general manager Ryan Pace is likely just putting the feelers out there, checking to see how much Williams is asking for.

The “dispute” mentioned by Biggs between Williams and the Washington Football Team stems from an incident in 2019. Williams had a cancerous growth removed from his head that year, and he reportedly demanded to be released or traded out of Washington, because he said the team’s medical staff ignored the growth and left it to remain untreated, according to The Washington Post. After a back and forth with the team, Williams sat out the entire season and was traded to San Francisco, where he flourished this season.

He was PFF’S top-graded tackle in 2020, finishing ahead of David Bakhtiari of the Packers with a league-best 91.9 overall grade at the position. He allowed four sacks, four quarterback hits and 19 total pressures on 957 snaps, and he would be an unquestionable upgrade over Charles Leno Jr. on the Bears’ offensive line.

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Bears Would Have to Unload Charles Leno Jr. to Sign Williams

The Bears currently have Leno playing out the last year of his four-year, $37 million contract. A seventh-round pick for the Bears in 2014, he has spent the bulk of his seven seasons playing left tackle.

The 6-3, 305-pound Leno has been nothing if not durable, as he has started all 16 games for Chicago over the last five seasons, and 13 games the year before that. Per Biggs, the Bears would free up $6.2 million in cap space by releasing him.

Naturally, when news of the Bears’ interest in the league’s top free-agent tackle emerged, many fans and analysts wondered whether the move signaled that they were also going after a highly-valued quarterback. It’s all speculation at this point, of course, but if the Bears don’t make a splash at the quarterback position, nothing else may matter much next season.

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