Ryan Pace felt confident in letting Josh Sitton walk
The Chicago Bears knew that they were going to get an interior lineman early in the 2018 NFL Draft
Ryan Pace was very open in his offseason strategy when talking to Dan Pompei of the Athletic. He discussed the decision to let Josh Sitton go, and why it made sense at the time.
"“We had to make a decision with his contract,” he said. “We knew we had the flexibility to play Cody Whitehair at center or guard. We like Eric Kush. And it was a deep position in the draft. So now we have a young group, and the addition of Harry Hiestand is understated. He’s awesome. Whoever we add to the room, he’s going to maximize. Especially a guy like James Daniels who is only 20-years old and has a lot of development ahead of him.”"
The first note to take away from that is that the Pace took a stand for Eric Kush. If the very worst possibility happened, they were comfortable with Eric Kush. Coming off of a lost season and with minimal starting experience those are strong words.
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Of course, that did not happen and now Pace has to feel great about the depth. Still, he does feel better about where he sits with James Daniels due to his age, and upside and Harry Hiestand due to his experience and pedigree.
While Daniels and Hiestand are the perfect match for years to come, there is likely not too much that Hiestand is going to pull out of Sitton that has not already been pulled.
James Daniels likely was the perfect scenario for the Chicago Bears in round two, but the team did know they had options. While they did have eyes on Quenton Nelson is round one, they did not feel pressed into taking Nelson that high due to the availability at the position in round two.
Ryan Pace went onto say.
"“We felt interior linemen went deep in the second round — whether it was James Daniels or Austin Corbett or Will Hernandez, they were going to be there. So to be able to hit with Roquan and then get a starting level interior lineman, it fit well for us.”"
The combination of Roquan Smith and James Daniels is likely better than Quenton Nelson and Darrius Leonard. Knowing that between Corbett, Hernandez and Daniels that somebody was going to be there had to be comforting.
When adding in four options over the first two rounds along with the confidence in Kush, the decision to move on from Sitton does seem very obvious.