Bears’ $24 Million Pro Bowler Dubbed Among ‘Worst’ Signings of Offseason

D'Andre Swift, Eagles

Getty Running back D'Andre Swift, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chicago Bears have taken several big personnel swings over the past two years, and not all of them have worked out.

While players like edge rusher Montez Sweat and linebacker T.J. Edwards represent victories for general manager Ryan Poles, there are opposite instances involving the likes of wide receiver Chase Claypool, for example. The NFL draft, in which Chicago owns two of the top-nine picks, remains more than a week out, but the Bears have already been among the more active squads in free agency.

Among the headliners over the last month is the signing of a three-year contract worth $24 million for running back D’Andre Swift, who produced the first Pro Bowl campaign of his four-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Swift represents a significant investment in a position that much of the league has devalued over the past several years — a decision Ryan Fowler of Bleacher Report dubbed on Monday, April 15 as one of the “worst free-agent signings” of the offseason to this point.

With Khalil Herbert already in town along with Roschon Johnson — whom the team spent early Day 3 draft capital on last spring — there wasn’t a glaring need for another running back in Chicago.

While 2023 saw Swift reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in his career, the dominant Philadelphia Eagles offensive line deserves more credit than Swift does for his ability to create his own lanes and find open grass.

While the expected addition of Caleb Williams under center should lighten the box, ultimately presenting Swift with fewer bodies to maneuver around, it’s hard to envision that the 2020 second-round selection would have drastically outproduced that of Herbert or Johnson if the latter were presented a similar workload.

D’Andre Swift Offers Bears Unique Advantages Over Other RBs on Roster

D'Andre Swift

GettyFormer Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift.

While some of Fowler’s concerns may be valid, Swift brings a few things to the table that fall in favor of the contract the Bears offered him.

Swift will play the upcoming season at just 25 years old. He split duties in the backfield across his first three years with the Detroit Lions and has only eclipsed 151 carries on one occasion (last season, when he rushed the football 229 times).

He is a proven dual-threat back with a nose for the end zone, racking up 195 receptions for 1,412 receiving yards and 23 total TDs over the course of his NFL tenure. Swift has knowledge of the Lions’ offense and the approach/tendencies of head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, whom he played under for two seasons and one season, respectively.

Bears Have Added to WR Room, O-Line This Offseason

Braxton Jones Bears News Doug Kramer

GettyLeft tackle Braxton Jones of the Chicago Bears.

Another two plusses for Swift and his prospective performance in Chicago are the team’s arsenal of pass-catchers and the reasonable expectation that the offensive line will again improve in 2024.

Poles added Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen for the price of a fourth-round pick this offseason, who will play alongside DJ Moore and tight end Cole Kmet. The team may also draft a blue-chip playmaker with the No. 9 pick, as Washington Huskies wideout Rome Odunze or Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers could both still be on the board at that point.

If Chicago doesn’t select a pass-catcher with the 9th pick, the team may pick an offensive lineman to add depth to a unit that already includes promising players in Darnell Wright and Braxton Jones at the tackle positions. Both are early in their careers — having played just one and two years, respectively — and are still presumably on upward trajectories.

The Bears also added Coleman Shelton and Ryan Bates this offseason to increase depth across the offensive front.

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