Are Cody Whitehair and James Daniels going to be changing positions this season?
Three years ago, Hroniss Grasu went down with an ACL injury during the summer and suddenly, the Chicago Bears were in need of a center.
That’s when a rookie named Cody Whitehair stepped up, learned the position for the first time in his career and started all 16 games at center, earning all-rookie honors.
Whitehair has been the Bears’ starting center for the past three seasons, but prior to 2018, Ryan Pace drafted James Daniels out of Iowa, whose natural position is center.
Many speculated out of the gate that Daniels would be taking over at center and Whitehair would move back over to guard but as preseason and training camp got underway, it was clear that Whitehair would remain at center and Daniels would remain at guard.
Daniels eventually moved into the starting lineup and as the season progress, both players remained at those positions and there was no talk about them switching.
The switch makes plenty of sense but why now? Keep in mind Daniels came into the league at 20 years of age. There is a lot on the shoulders of the center in terms of pre-snap reads and checks/calls at the line of scrimmage.
The Bears may not have been comfortable putting that weight on Daniels’ shoulders, especially in a complicated offense like Matt Nagy’s.
With a year under his belt, perhaps the Bears feel the time is right. If Whitehair, in theory, is better at guard and Daniels would perform better at center, than it makes plenty of sense.
The only issue is that of Cody Whitehair’s extension. There has been plenty of talk this offseason about getting Whitehair extended who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Guards, on average, make about $2 million more per season than centers.
It would complicate the extension talks if the Bears are in the process of moving Whitehair to guard, however, it is possible that the Bears and Whitehair’s agent have already hammered out the framework, they are just waiting to announce the extension until later in the summer after the Bears know exactly how much cap space they have available.
Regardless, this is an interesting piece of news that has come out about the Bears’ upcoming season and one that will be fun to keep an eye on during training camp.