$60 Million All-Pro Eyeing Return With Bears After not Playing in 2021

Kelechi Osemele

Getty Guard Kelechi Osemele hasn't played since Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season.

The Chicago Bears have set their 53-man roster and 16-player practice squad, but that doesn’t mean general manager Ryan Poles and company are going to stop looking for ways to make the team better.

According to the NFL’s September 1 waiver wire, the Bears brought veteran guard Kelechi Osemele in for a workout.

A second-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, Osemele was a starter for the Ravens team that won Super Bowl 47 in 2013. After four years in Baltimore, the 33-year-old Osemele signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Raiders, where he was named a first-team All-Pro in 2016 while getting named to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017.

He was traded to the New York Jets in 2019, and he spent the 2020 season in Kansas City with the Chiefs, where he got to know Poles when the current Bears GM was assistant director of player personnel. A nine-year NFL veteran, Osemele hasn’t played since the 2020 regular season, when he suffered torn tendons in both his knees in a Week 5 contest playing against the Raiders.

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Osemele Has Been Injury-Plagued in Recent Years

After signing with the Jets in 2019, Osemele tore his labrum earlier in the season. He wanted surgery to repair it, but the Jets denied his request. Instead, team doctors asked the offensive lineman to take painkillers, saying surgery was unnecessary at the time. Osemele decided to have surgery on the advice of his own physicians, and the Jets released him shortly after that.

He landed in Kansas City the following year and went down with torn tendons after four starts. He has not played since.

In those four starts and 282 snaps at left guard, the 6-foot-5, 330-pound O-Lineman gave up just four pressures (no sacks or QB hits), per PFF. He did get flagged five times, however.

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Would Osemele Be Backup Left Guard?

After missing the entire season last year, there’s no way Osemele would be anything but a depth signing for the Bears. With the regular season approaching on September 11, they appear to have their offensive line relatively set, although presumed starting center Lucas Patrick has yet to officially return after injuring the thumb on his snapping hand.

With rookie Braxton Jones at left tackle, Larry Borom at right tackle, veteran Cody Whitehair at left guard, Teven Jenkins at right guard, and either Patrick or Sam Mustipher at center, the starting lineup is seemingly set.

Osemele, then, would likely start out as a backup, maybe even on the practice squad at left tackle, where he has experience. During his most recent season as an active player, though, he shared an openness to playing wherever he was needed.

“I’m pretty open,” Osemele said in 2020 about where he’d be willing to pay on the line, via the Kansas City Star. “They kind of just said I’m going to be in the rotation. I’m learning the playbook right now. Obviously, there’s a lot of wrinkles to learn. But in any way, shape or form, I’m able to help, I’m just excited to do my part and help.”

We’ll see if he gets a chance to revive his career in the Windy City.

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