Simms: How Bears should address offensive line before 2021 NFL season

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Alex Shapiro
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Simms: How Bears should address offensive line next season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As we enter the second week of the Bears’ offseason, a lot of attention has been paid to the quarterback position, and whether or not the team will find a way to bring back No. 1 wide receiver Allen Robinson. How the team answers each of those question marks will obviously have huge ramifications for the offense in 2021. But Sunday Night Football’s Chris Simms says the team will also have to ask itself a huge question about the offensive line.

“‘Are we happy with some of the pieces we have there?’” Simms told NBC Sports Chicago. “‘Can we make that work with Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars and James Daniels returning from injury next year? Do we look at that and say, ok, I think we have our offensive line, and we’ve just got to figure out how to organize that group?’”

No position group underwent as much change over the course of the regular season than the offensive line. The Bears started the season with Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Germain Ifedi and Bobby Massie. But a mixture of poor play and injuries forced Nagy to do his best Joel Quenneville impersonation by pulling out the line blender often. Through the first 10 games of the season, the Bears used six different offensive line combinations, and were averaging only 78.2 rushing yards per game while surrendering 2.5 sacks per game. But in Week 12 they seemed to find an OL lineup that worked with Leno, Whitehair, Mustipher, Bars and Ifedi, moving from left to right. All of a sudden the Bears rushing offense came alive, averaging 144.2 yards per game over their last six games, while giving up 1.8 sacks per game.

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So with all that improvement over the second half of the season, would Simms run it back with the same personnel?

“I don’t think so. I still think there’s a guy or two that needs to be added to the group altogether.”

Easier said than done for the Bears, who enter the offseason with some of the least cap space in the league.

“You’ve got two tackles that it’s very easy to trim the fat this year,” Simms said. “Get rid of (Charles) Leno, (Bobby) Massie, and go out and try to find guys that are a little bit more in the prime of their careers, a little bit more dominant at the positions altogether, right now.”

According to Spotrac.com, a site that tracks contracts, cutting both Leno and Massie would save the Bears nearly $13 million total in 2021. That might not be enough to lock up even one of the top tackles in the league, so Ryan Pace will likely have to get more creative to fill out the line— let alone the rest of the roster.

“Other than that,” Simms said. “I think you have enough guys to play with to figure out who you want as your interior three.”

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