Ranking best free agent center options for Chicago Bears to sign this offseason

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The Chicago Bears traded for Ryan Bates, but that should not fill their need at center. Bates should be viewed as a depth option, and the team should be looking to draft or sign a center in free agency. If they are looking to sign a center, who would be the best options available?

The must-sign options 

1. Lloyd Cushenberry 

2. Andre James

3. Tyler Biadasz 

4. Aaron Brewer

5. Coleman Shelton 

If the Chicago Bears sign any of these five, they are going to be the starter next year. Cushenberry, James, and Biadasz all have over 3,000 career snaps at center, and all of them are just 26 years old. They are coming off of strong seasons and should have a solid market. 

Brewer has 1,185 snaps at center and is just 26 years old. Most of those snaps came last year when he finally took over as a full-time starter. He also has familiarity with the Chicago Bears assistant offensive line coach, Jason Houghtaling. 

Shelton earned the Rams starting center job in 2022 when Brian Allen got hurt and kept them momentum going into 2023, where he had a strong season. That is why he is testing the market. The Bears have the cap space and the need that these five should be high on their radar. 

The injury questions 

6. Connor Williams

7. Connor McGovern

Both the Connors would be great fits at center. Williams may be the best overall center of this group after he moved from guard to center in his switch of teams from Dallas to Miami. However, he tore his ACL in December. His status next year is up in the air. McGovern suffered a dislocated knee cap in October and has developed a small history of injuries. At the right price, both are solid additions, but they have their concerns. 

Starter experience

8. Evan Brown 

9. Nick Gates

10. Will Clapp

11. Mason Cole 

12. Michael Dieter

These players could compete with Ryan Bates and potentially a draft pick to start, but they would not be handed the job like the names above would. Evan Brown would come in with familiarity with how Shane Waldron does things. Still, last year, he won a training camp competition to start, and for most of his career, he has been a swing guard. 

Gates made 10 starts at center last year but was signed to be a depth addition after an injury in 2021 derailed his career. He could compete to get back into being a full-time starter. Clapp came in to start behind an injured Corey Linsley and played well. Michael Dieter did similar with the Houston Texans. 

Mason Cole started at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the past two years, but they also just cut him. 

Taking a swing on potential 

13. Matt Hennessy 

14. Brian Allen 

15. Nick Harris 

Hennessy was a third-round pick by Atlanta in the 2020 NFL draft. Things did not take off for him, but he is just 26 years old and has 1,138 snaps at center with 1,370 snaps overall. A change of scenery could still turn him into a starter. 

Brian Allen suffered a season-ending injury in 2022 and lost his job in 2023. Is he back to full health and ready to show he is still a quality starter?

Nick Harris was a fifth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns. He has 290 snaps at center in his career, but 222 came last year, and he held his own. He is just 25 years old and has potential. Harris also would come on a discounted deal. At the right price, he is worth a shot. 

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