This offseason, the Chicago Bears will undoubtedly be adding to their running back room.
D'Onta Foreman is a free agent, and his spot needs to be filled. But, to what degree do the Bears need to focus on the position?
Khalil Herbert proved he can be the lead back. Roschon Johnson was fantastic as a pass-catching running back and showed he can run with a head full of steam when given the opportunity.
So, do the Bears really need to go after a top running back this offseason? Bleacher Report's David Kenyon seems to think so, as he recently listed the Bears as an "ideal landing spot" for both Saquon Barkley and Austin Ekeler.
Do Saquon Barkley or Austin Ekeler make sense for the Bears?
Let's start with Barkley, who will be playing his age-27 season in 2024. The 2022 season saw Barkley have a career year, but he followed it up having to play behind one of the worst offensive lines in football and amidst a tough quarterback situation.
If he reverted to what he was in 2022, Barkley could add quite a bit to this offense. He's still one of the more well-rounded and electric players at his position. With Johnson and Herbert sprinkled in, Chicago would continue to stay atop the league in rushing.
The problem with Barkley, though, is the fact that he'd want a multi-year deal, and that simply isn't a wise decision for the Bears. He's a player who hasn't played a full season since his rookie year and injuries have always been a concern. For a team like the Bears, who are building a younger roster into (hopefully) a contender, Barkley probably shouldn't be a target. He'll also come more expensive than his fellow free agents.
Now, on to Ekeler, who looked like a shell of himself in 2023. He couldn't have been fully healthy. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, there. But, like Barkley, Ekeler doesn't really fall in line with the Bears' current trajectory.
"Or, perhaps the Chicago Bears will offer more playing time and a longer-term contract with less money and a tougher path to the postseason," Kenyon wrote.
He will be 29 years old in May, and recent history would tell us that paying a 29-year-old running back is a bad idea. We're also talking about a running back with over 1,400 career touches. He doesn't have a whole lot left, and although he wants to play this coming season, it shouldn't be in Chicago.
Rather than paying a free agent, the Bears should once again go to the draft well. Building this roster through the draft is what will make this into a long-lasting, worthwhile project for Ryan Poles.
Between Barkley's health, Ekeler's decline in play and age, and what it would cost to sign both of them, the Bears should steer clear.