Bears Add Ex-Seahawks RB After Montgomery’s Departure: Report

Travis Homer Bears

Getty Travis Homer is expected to sign a two-year contract with the Bears when the new league year begins on Wednesday, March 15.

The Chicago Bears didn’t waste much time finding another running back to add to their backfield for the 2023 season after David Montgomery walked.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears are signing former Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer to a two-year contract worth a maximum of $4.5 million, adding more experience to their running back room for next season to work alongside presumed 2023 starter Khalil Herbert and former sixth-rounder Trestan Ebner.

News of Homer’s signing comes less than an hour after Schefter reported Montgomery had agreed to terms on a three-year, $18 million contract with the Detroit Lions that includes $11 million guaranteed. Montgomery, a 2019 third-round pick, had been the Bears’ lead running back for the past few seasons, but the emergence of Herbert and the Bears’ other looming roster needs made it unlikely he would return to Chicago in 2023.

Now, the mystery is over and the Bears officially have a new running back on the roster. Homer, 24, saw limited action out of the backfield during his four seasons in Seattle, carrying the ball just 83 times for 453 yards and a touchdown over 49 career games. He did have similar numbers as a receiver in the passing game, though, with 52 catches for 464 yards and two touchdowns and touts impressive speed with a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine during his draft year in 2019.

Homer is now the fifth free agent expected to sign with the Bears when the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 15. According to ESPN’s free agent tracker, Chicago is also expected to sign linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, interior offensive lineman Nate Davis and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker once free agents are officially allowed to sign with their new teams.

Bears Could Take Committee Approach at RB in 2023

Given his relatively small production, the Bears don’t appear to be signing Homer with the intention of having him replace Montgomery’s role in their offense. He is a depth signing, plain and simple, who boosts the room without Montgomery or (presumably) restricted free agent Darrynton Evans. Homer is also a valuable special teams weapon who notched seven special-teams tackles for the Seahawks in 2022 and has played 713 special-team snaps over the course of his four-year NFL career.

That said, don’t be surprised if the Bears proceed to ignore the running back position for the remainder of free agency now that they have Homer locked into place.

The Bears were the NFL’s top rushing offense in 2022, partly because quarterback Justin Fields had a historic season in which he ran for 1,143 yards — the second-most ever recorded by a quarterback in a single season behind Lamar Jackson. It also helped that Montgomery was steady and Herbert also took a nice step forward in his second year, even when hampered by a midseason hip injury that cost him four games. But the real victory was having three different ball carriers with 150-plus carries on the year.

The Bears will likely strive to do something similar again in 2023 with more of an emphasis on Herbert as the leading man. They will also probably attempt to limit the number of times Fields is running on a desperate scramble versus a designed run, which could tone down his rushing numbers some. If all that holds, it should mean more carries in the rotation for either Homer or Ebner to carve out a meaningful role.

Bears May Still Upgrade at RB During 2023 Draft

For the time being, Homer and Ebner are positioned to compete for the No. 2 rushing role behind Herbert in 2023 as the only other running backs on the roster. The Bears could also add another name to the mix — former Tennessee Titans third-rounder Darryton Evans — if they elect to tender him as a restricted free agent between now and the NFL deadline on April 21. If Evans does not return, though, the Bears could look to add more power to their backfield in the 2023 NFL draft.

The Bears still have several significant roster needs to address even after agreeing to multi-year deals with five free agents in the first two days of negotiations. Fortunately, they will have four picks in the top 64 of the 2023 NFL draft next month, including the ninth overall selection. If Chicago can patch enough holes between free agency and the first few rounds of the draft, though, it could make sense for them to invest a mid-to-late-round pick in another running back — especially in a class with some deep talent.

The Bijan Robinsons and Jahmyr Gibbses of the draft are probably unrealistic for the Bears unless Poles has some hidden plan up his sleeve, but there are some other NFL-ready backs who could be available to them at the top of the third round, such as UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet and Texas A&M’s Devon Achane. There should also be some good depth in the later rounds with Auburn’s Tank Bigsby, Tulane’s Tyjae Spears and Illinois’ Chase Brown among some of the most compelling options for the Bears.

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