There will be quite a few offensive linemen with expiring contracts as free agency approaches this off-season. The biggest name on that list in left tackle Charles Leno Jr. Leno Jr., has been a quietly steady force at the left tackle spot but he is “unspectacular” and is not a “franchise” left tackle. But he is serviceable until someone else comes along that can take over. That will happen when the Bears swing their attention to the position and make some changes. But this is probably not on their priority list.
Tackle Mike Adams will become a free agent. He played a little this season but landed on injured reserve just a few weeks ago. Adams is immensely talented but has struggled with execution (see his career in Pittsburgh) as well as injuries. He might be a fine backup with potential to start a game here or there but is not a full-time starter.
Nick Becton was another player Chicago stashed on injured reserve near the start of the season. He is another talent that hasn’t gotten a lot of exposure. Chicago could sign him to a one year deal and have another training camp body.
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Eric Kush has seen some action this year, including four starts and has proven himself to be an asset as a backup. He can step in and start as needed and the offensive line doesn’t have that much of a dip in talent when he hits the field. Kush is another player to re-sign and bring back next year.
Ted Larsen has seen considerable time in the lineup this season playing in 14 games with six starts. He’s another serviceable backup that can step in and play as needed. Having him back another year would be a great idea. He provides nice depth and capability as a starter.
Matt McCants was claimed off waivers and hasn’t seen any action yet this season. With just two games left, it’s doubtful he will make his way into the lineup in 2016 in any large capacity. This was likely something Chicago did to grab him and get him signed to possibly bring back to compete in training camp next season.
Listed as an offensive lineman, Patrick Scales will be an exclusive rights free agent at the end of the year. The Bear’s long snapper does his job without mistakes but the Bears could be looking for new blood here, it’s hard to tell. Long snappers come and go (unless you are Patrick Mannelly).
The smart thing for Chicago to do would be to lock him down another two to three seasons and worry about other positions. But in the ever-shifting space that is the Bears’ roster, he may become a roster casualty.
That’s quite a list of free agent offensive linemen. What should the Bears do with each of these guys? Leno Jr., should be offered a contract no questions asked. Larsen and Kush need to be re-signed to be back for another year. You can’t beat the depth they provide. Becton, Adams and McCants deserve the chance to try to make the roster in training camp next season and the Bears may like all three well enough to bring all three back. One year deals for them would be fair.
Finally, they should keep Scales and not have to go through the “pain” of finding another long snapper. There is nothing wrong with him so why not keep him.