Chicago Bears Land LB Matthew Wells in Trade with Patriots


In a move that seems to benefit both teams, the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots engaged in a trade involving second-year guard Ryan Groy and rookie linebacker Matthew Wells. The trade was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN.

In Groy, New England obtains offensive line depth.  For the Bears, Wells provides another intriguing young piece at linebacker for Vic Fangio and the rebuilding Chicago defense.

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Chicago has depth in training camp on the offensive line, allowing them to part with Groy even though the undrafted player out of Wisconsin showed some promise late in 2014 during a handful of starts. At guard the Bears projected starters are Kyle Long and Matt Slauson while Vladimir Ducasse, Conor Boffeli and rookie Tyler Moore provide depth.

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Center Will Montgomery has experience at guard and can slide over in a pinch, especially if rookie Hroniss Grasu comes along quickly and seizes the starting center job. Jordan Mills is also a possibility to slide inside from his current right tackle position. The aforementioned Long is a trendy pick to end up at tackle eventually.

The Long-to-tackle idea is contingent on the Bears’ willingness to uproot him from the position in which he’s been an All-Pro his first two years. For that reason, perhaps the move doesn’t come until it’s a matter of necessity.

Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears guard Ryan Groy (79) against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

On the other side of this trade is New England, whose linebacker depth is such that Wells didn’t stand the best shot of making the team despite being a sixth round selection in this past April’s draft. Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower headline the group that is expected to be one of the best linebacker units in the league.

With Wells likely on the outside looking in, the Patriots shipped him off to Chicago in exchange for Groy and the offensive line depth he’ll bring. New England is betting that Groy, once projected to go as high as the third round in the 2014 draft before going without hearing his name called, can fulfill some of that potential under their championship-caliber tutelage.

It’s hard to argue with their track record and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see Groy go on to some level of success with the Pats.

Dec 31, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Matthew Wells (22) yells at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Charles Perkins (21) in the second quarter Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears get Wells, a linebacker who is a tad undersized but makes his bones in coverage thanks to some impressive speed (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds at his pro day). How Fangio decides to deploy Wells will remain to be seen, but with any luck we’ll get our first look at him this coming Thursday against the Dolphins in the Bears’ preseason opener.

Initially Wells figures to get plenty of looks on special teams and its easy to imagine the benefits of a guy with his speed barreling down the field in kick coverage. Also I can envision him as a situational linebacker appearing more often in obvious passing situations, either for his coverage skills or as a blitzer who can cover ground fast.

The already-interesting roster competition at linebacker just got a bit more intriguing.

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