Why the Easy Guard Solution for Bears Seems Really Complex

The Bears’ plight at right guard is one they could solve with some creative thinking.

Doing it this way could also disrupt the course of action GM Ryan Poles has taken to date, both in terms of personnel and salary cap.

Losing Dakota Dozier to a right knee injury means it’s either former center Sam Mustipher, two rookies at right guard, or possibly Teven Jenkins. Trying Jenkins there to start camp would mean starting rookie Braxton Jones at left tackle, but that might be the best option due to Mustipher’s complete inexperience at guard.

Some bear options

There are a number of free agent guards they could sign and several would be quite inexpensive and few would really fit the style of offense they run.

Ereck Flowers may be the best tackle/guard available in free agency right now, but the eight-year veteran is probably not cut out for this style offense, which requires mobile, fast and athletic blockers.

Flowers has allowed 31 sacks in seven seasons and is a 330-pound mauler well-suited to the inside zone blocking scheme or a power scheme. He’s not someone who shoots and runs wide to effectively block stretched plays or wide receiving screens. What he can do, he does well, and last year had his best overall Pro Football Focus rating of 72.0, which was better than former Bears right guard James Daniels’ best (71 ,0, 2021).

Another name is Laurent Duvernnay Tardif, and at 6-5, 321 he’s a bit more mobile but has missed too many games. In six seasons played, he never even started for a full year. Moreover, he played his first five seasons in the Polish Kansas City Chiefs teams and if anyone knew one thing about him, it would be the Bears GM. If the Poles thought it was a worthwhile decision, surely he would have done it already because of his familiarity.

A real option

There is a player who would fit and it wouldn’t be a cheap move. This would require some movement and would also disrupt the current plan.

The creativity he needs is moving center Lucas Patrick to right guard and signing free agent center JC Tretter, the former Browns starter.

Tretter followed a pattern much like Patrick in that he couldn’t get on the field much in Green Bay. Patrick finally made it and had respectable consecutive years before now ending up with the Bears.

Tretter went to Cleveland in 2017 and never missed a game. He was outstanding in the eyes of PFF, despite not achieving Pro Bowl or All-Pro status. Just once in Cleveland, his overall blocking dipped in the 60s at 69.1 his freshman year. He had a career high of 78.7 last year, 77.1 the year before. As a pass blocker, he’s had spectacular ratings in the 80s every year since 2016. He hasn’t had a pass blocking rating below 78.1 in a season he started a match.

Unlike Patrick, Tretter is a center. He’s not moving. Patrick played center last year and guard the year before for the Packers, so he’s able to handle both.

And Tretter can play that wide zone scheme as a 6-4, 307-pounder who can move around quite a bit. He played it in Cleveland under Kevin Stefanski.

Forget that

It all sounds too good to believe it couldn’t happen, but there are reasons to believe otherwise.

The Poles are trying to build a line for the future and a 31-year-old center isn’t quite a fit, to start with. They would need to sign Tretter on a short-term deal like they did with Patrick and that might not suit a player as efficient as Tretter. The reason why it would be short-term is both his age and the way the Poles build the team. It points to the future, to 2023 and 2024 talent acquisition in the draft and free agency. Getting bogged down in the line with a 31-year-old who will be ready to come out in a few years around the time the offense should be hitting full steam is not part of the plan.

Another reason is Tretter’s health. Although he played every game in Cleveland last year, he wasn’t practicing. Coaches disapprove of players who don’t practice. Browns Digest’s Pete Smith of FanNation reported that Tretter hardly ever trained due to ankle and knee injuries. There were plenty of other teams that could have signed Tretter had it not been for the issues. The Vikings needed a center, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was working in Cleveland. He knows all about Tretter and didn’t sign him.

The last reason is money. Not that the Bears are broke with $21.37 million burning a hole in the Poles’ pocket, according to Spotrac.com. However, they have real uses for a lot of that money, mostly contract extensions and bonuses for Roquan Smith and probably David Montgomery. Paying $9 million for Tretter would pretty much ruin some of those plans.

Signing Tretter would also ruin plans to make Patrick a starting center, and he’s a player the Poles see as capable of doing what Tretter has already done.

The likely outcome

For these reasons, it seems much more likely that the Bears would wait in camp and watch the progress of whatever inexperienced player they choose for the berth, then scratch a cut guard at some point in the preseason or just before the regular season. who they think could help if their plans seem to be failing.

They have four shots with Mustipher, possibly Jenkins, rookies Zachary Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter, and could even try their own rookie center Doug Kramer at guard or start him at center with Patrick moving to guard.

It’s cheaper and allows their current plans for Patrick and the other linemen to stay in place.

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