There have been various rumors regarding the Chicago Bears, their trade options and candidates for their first-round draft pick. Names like Jimmy Garoppolo, Tony Romo, Jabrill Peppers and Mitch Trubisky have been linked to the team several times. Ironically though, one name has escaped this conversation and it’s due to a concerning felony charge.
No Future Left Tackle
Before discussing that though, let’s discuss the gaping hole on the Bears few people have mentioned lately. The left tackle position is in dire need of an upgrade. The failed experiment with Jermon Bushrod’s five-year contract, that turned into just under three due to his injuries, has left a hole on this team that hasn’t been filled. Current starter Charles Leno Jr., a surprising seventh-round pick that had a decent 2016 season, has been the temporary fill in. There is no future starter in sight at the left tackle position.
In addition to that, Chicago’s name has been mentioned several times when discussing quarterback trade options. Most recently as today, the Bears have been mentioned as the odds-on-favorite to land Garoppolo via trade. If that were to happen, most predict the Bears would have to surrender at least their second-round pick this season.
If the Bears lose out on New England’s backup, other options like Romo, Mike Glennon and Blake Bortles could be explored.
The bottom line is this, Chicago needs a quarterback …. really bad.
The problem though, they have nobody to protect his blindside.
Charles Leno Is Not The Answer
According to Pro Football Focus, Charles Leno Jr. was the 44th best offensive tackle in the league this season. His grade of 70.1 is the lowest possible to remain “average, ” one more tenth of a point and he’s “below average.” This has been masked by Chicago’s success running the football.
The Bears actually ranked fourth in the league when it comes to first downs gained by running left. That is a skewed statistic though because Kyle Long, arguably the game’s best guard, and Cody Whitehair, arguably the game’s best rookie lineman, helped Leno pave the way for the running backs.
Leno was a seventh-round pick for a reason. Originally projected as an NFL guard with long legs and short torso, he was referred to as a “soft-bodied” backup. Most analysts predicted his transition to an interior position, but the lack of options in Chicago kept him outside at tackle, left tackle.
As a result, Chicago ranks ninth in the league surrendering only 26 sacks and 24th giving up just 70 QB hits. General Manager Ryan Pace apparently made the right decision based on those numbers, the 3-12 record might have you thinking otherwise though. Also, how many Bears’ quarterbacks got hurt this year?
Leno played 933 snaps on offense last season, and according to Pro Football Focus, allowed four sacks, six quarterback hits and 32 quarterback hurries. He struggled primarily with strength on the outside but showed off impressive footwork for a late-round pick.
This year, he struggled out of the gate in Week 1 against the Houston Texans before playing ok football between Week 2 and Week 7. But, he has regressed as of late, giving up three sacks and six quarterback hurries in the last three games.
That’s the thing with Leno, he’s okay…. “temporary fill-in” is a good term to use.
How could Chicago possibly target a brand new quarterback, that’s expected to be expensive, without a better solution at left tackle?
Here’s where the felony comes into play.