Chicago Bears offensive tackle Nate Chandler has announced his retirement at the age of 27.
What is it about joining the Chicago Bears offensive line that makes one want to retire? Free agent signee Nate Chandler announced his retirement the other day rather than go through training camp and compete for a backup position at right tackle.
The Bears added the former Carolina Panther just about a month ago, a late free agent addition that our own Mike Flannery hailed as a good move to bolster the Bears’ depth at tackle:
"Depth at the tackle position was one of most glaring holes left on the Chicago Bears 2016 roster and they helped fill it today by signing veteran tackle Nate Chandler, most recently of the Carolina Panthers."
Chandler’s retirement comes just about six weeks after veteran center Manny Ramirez decided to hang up his spikes rather than compete with second year center Hroniss Grasu and second round draft pick Codey Whitehair, who could play either center or guard.
The retirements put the Bears offensive line depth in a tenuous position. The Bears projected starting offensive line looks like this:
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LT Charles Leno
LG Cody Whitehair (R)
C Hroniss Grasu
RG Kyle Long
RT Bobby Massie
That’s not a bad little lineup with a mix of solid veterans, a couple of developing youngsters and a perennial Pro Bowler in Kyle Long anchoring the group. But if you peel the curtain back and look at the backups, it gets a little scary. You come up with names like Nick Becton, Jason Weaver and Ted Larsen.
I know that offensive linemen are not typically household name and don’t necessarily get name recognition, but I think we can safely say that there are significant question marks at the least with the Bears offensive line depth.
The sudden retirements make the Bears parting with stalwart guard Matt Slauson that much more significant. Slauson is the only Bears player to play 100% of the snaps last season. After Kyle Long’s 99.1% of snaps played, the next most snaps went to Charles Leno with nearly 85% of the offensive snaps. It’s rare to have anyone, much less an offensive linemen in the trenches, plays a full season.
As we get ready to head to Bourbonnais for training camp, it will be interesting to see how the depth on the Bears offensive line develops. Don’t be surprised if Ryan Pace dips back into the free agent waters to try to shore up the line if some of these youngsters don’t show up when they slap on the pads next week.